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Rapid City to Yellowstone

Fort Lauderdale
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212 posts
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Rapid City to Yellowstone

I am planning a summer trip with the fam (including my 10 and 7 year old boys), and part of the trip involves a drive from Rapid City, SD to Yellowstone NP.

Although warned that this is a VERY long drive, is it possible to go straight through without going nuts? We're the type of family who likes to "nest" as opposed to staying one night at multiple hotels.

What are some good stops between the two places to get out, stretch, and spend 1-2 hours enjoying something? Devil's Tower is already on my list. After that and before Cody, what else?


Everett, Washington
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1. Re: Rapid City to Yellowstone

It's really not that bad of a drive. We've done Thermopolis to St. Paul in a day. DT will consume a bit of time. If you leave from Rapid City pretty early you will have rising sun behind you so not in the eyes. Getting to DT while sun is still low in east may afford some nice pictures because the entrance to the monument is on the east side. On the otherhand the visitor center is on the west side of the tower so too low a sun angle would put that side in shade.

If you use the Highway 111 exit from I-90 at exit 199 to get to DT (via Hwy 24 near Aladdin) there is a quick site to see a mile or two east on the northside frontage road. A big sinkhole where the Indians drove Buffalo over the edge. The bones are 30 feet deep. There is a trail to the bottom of the hole and a display above telling about it.

There's a relatively nice rest area on I-90 where it crosses the Powder River about 35-40 miles west of Gillette. The area is scenic ina stark badlands sort of way. If I recall correctly the actual building for the bathrooms was an experiment in solar heating & lighting and handling of the waste water.

The town of Buffalo has lots of options for lunch. Especially on Business-90 just before it connects with Main St. There is a fairly large city park (Prosinski Park) with the largest free swimming pool in WY just south of US 16 on Burritt Ave., a little past Main St., that would make a nice picnic spot.

Taking US 16 over Powder River Pass then down through Ten Sleep Canyon is very scenic with lots of pull out areas. Not much for doing anything in particular but there may be some alpine meadow hiking opportunities near the summit of the pass. One might be:


or even just a portion of the route without actually going all the way up. Disclaimer...I've not hiked this area. Also...at 10,000+ feet the air is thin if you are not used to it.

At Greybull there is an WWII airplane graveyard at the airport (just off US 16/20) but it is on the opposite side of the runways and not accessible up close except for a few planes right at the corner of Airport Rd. and US 16/20.

South Pole
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2. Re: Rapid City to Yellowstone

we did yellowstone-cody-rapid city with a detour to devils tower over 2 days. i would not like to do it in one. the cody stopover was relaxing and it's a nice town, and fun,to visit. we went via the granite pass route which is quite spectacular. lots of animals on the road between cody and yellowstone even during the day so would be very careful at night if u decide to drive straight thru. nothing much else to see on that leg after the dam but some wonderful scenery.

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3. Re: Rapid City to Yellowstone

How about stopping at the Little Bighorn Battlefield? Haven't done it with kids but my husband and I did on our first trip out.

We've always driven from the Custer SP area to either Billings or Red Lodge and then gone on to the park the next day. It is a long days drive between those 2 points.

If I'm reading your post correctly, I think you're going in thru Cody and the east entrance, but not staying overnight in Cody? Definitely doable if you get up and out early from Rapid City but the road from Cody to YNP is winding and slower going than you'll find on the interstate. Cody is a neat town too. Might be worth your while to stay there for the night, and then get going early and really enjoy the road in to YNP.

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4. Re: Rapid City to Yellowstone

We went in 2007 with our 3 kids; 5, 2, and 1. We drove to Rapid City and did the activities around that area for 2 days and then headed to Yellowstone.

I would suggest staying in Cody for one night before entering Yellowstone. If you are going to stop and stretch your legs and enjoy for a couple hours, you will never make it to Yellowstone in one day.

Devils Tower is a must hit and there is a lot to do in Cody.

Definetly take two days for the drive so you can actually enjot things along the way. You don't want to drive at night as you will miss many pretty sights.

5. Re: Rapid City to Yellowstone

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