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Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

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Wake Forest, North...
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Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

i will have one free day in Rapid City in July. i'm already going to Mt. Rushmore. we are thinking of checking out either Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the Badlands. Has anyone been to these parks and what would you recommend if we only have one day to visit?

Pitman, New Jersey
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1. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Wow..this is a tough choice. Are you staying in Rapid City?

If you are, the Badlands is an easy ride. It will take about 1.5 hours to get out there. Depending on how much you like to stop and get out of the car, you can probably see the Badlands in about 3-4 hours. We spent this amount of time here and stopped at the visitor's center and almost every overlook. I love to take pictures. We took some short walks as well. Some like to incorporate a stop at Wall Drug into a Badlands trip. Depending on how much you like quirky, souvenir places, you may or may not like it. Wall Drug is one of the biggest tourist trips I have ever seen, but some really do enjoy it. Getting back to the Badlands, you will find some amazing, unique scenery here that is well worth seeing.

Wind & Jewel Caves provide fascinating underground adventures. Both rank in the top 5 in cave length. Jewel is the 2nd longest, and Wind is 5th, I believe. Wind is known for a formation called boxwork, which resembles spider webs. Jewel is a more open cave that features many beautiful formations including stalactites, stalagmites, popcorn, cave bacon, and more. You could possibly see both in one day if you got an early start. They're roughly 45 mins apart, and tours last 2 hours in each. Another idea would be to visit Wind Cave and then drive the wildlife loop which is part of Custer State Park. The 2 join each other. If you enjoy wildlife viewing, you will love the drive. You will see wild burros, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, deer, bison, and pronghorn.

I am a fond lover of caves, so I think I'd pick the cave adventures over the Badlands. However, it really depends on what you like. To get an idea of what you will see at each place, check out nps.gov, and click on South Dakota. You will be able to view pics from each park on this site.

I hope you enjoy your short trip! If you have any more questions, please ask.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

I vote for a trip through the wildlife loop at Custer State Park and then do one of the caves. You can eat a great lunch at the State Game Lodge. We did that last June.

KCK
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3. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Might be reading it wrong, but it sounds like you only have one day for sight seeing and you plan on going to Rushmore that day also?

Pitman, New Jersey
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4. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Wyco..I see what you mean now that I re-read JenSue's post. I originally took it as a free-day in addition to the Rushmore day. Now I'm thinking you may be right. Hopefully Jensue will get back to us soon to clarify.

Wake Forest, North...
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5. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

thanks for the advice, i really like the idea of doing the wildlife loop and one of the caves. sorry for the confustion though. we have a trip planned to Mt. Rushmore through to Yellowstone. We'll be flying in a day earlier to Rapid City so we will have a whole day free to explore

Pitman, New Jersey
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6. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Ok..so my original interpretation was correct. Thanks for clarifying. What time are you arriving the day before? I'm just trying to get you the most "bang for the buck" so to speak. You can easily see Rushmore in about 3 hours, but I do highly recommend going back at night for the lighting ceremony. When visiting in the day, be sure to take time to walk the Presidential trail. I was thinking if you got there early enough, you might be able to fit something else in besides the monument.

If you decide the do the wildlife loop, you can incorporate it with Wind Cave National Park, as the 2 join each other. However, keep in mind you will see a lot of wildlife in Yellowstone; actually you will see more animals there than in SD.

I was just trying to get a better feel for the actual total time you have in the area, as there's much to see and do. You will want to maximize your time here as much as you can.

You are going to have a wonderful time in both the Black Hills and Yellowstone. Have fun planning, and stop back with any more questions you think of.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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7. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

We preferred Jewel Cave to Wind Cave, liked the cave better. If you take an early tour, then you can drive around in Custer State Park. If you don't see much wildlife, don't worry, you are headed to Yellowstone the "Serengeti of the US"!

We did Custer State Park, Wind Cave and Mt Rushmore all in one day and enjoyed the trip!

Pitman, New Jersey
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8. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Despite my own recommendation, we liked Jewel better as well. It's more open and the formations are defintiely prettier. I was thinking since the wildlife loop and Wind Cave National Park join each other, it would be easily incorporated. Both caves are fantastic in their own rights, and they are unique from each other. If you see both, you will see different formations. Jensue, if you are just seeing Mt. Rushmore in a day, you might be able to see something else on the same day as Rushmore, as I said in one of my earlier posts.

KCK
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9. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

If you have a whole day, I would spend time in Custer State Park (I love that park) and Jewel Cave.

It is kind of cheesey, but I have always enjoyed going to Crazy Horse. There is just so much to do in this area.

Pitman, New Jersey
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10. Re: Jewel Cave, Wind Cave or the badlands

Crazy Horse is something everyone has to experience once. The history behind the monument is even more fascintating than Mt. Rushmore, imo. There's so much to see and do in the Black Hills. I have a feeling JennSue will want to go back for a longer visit.