Mostly we're interested in scenic drives / easy to moderate hikes for photo opportunities. I made plane reservations for Aug. 28 - Sept. 8 to Rapid City, and am thinking of a big loop, about 2 nights Badlands, 3 nights Custer/Wind Cave/Hot Springs, 2 nights Mt. Rushmore, 3 nights Spearfish/Devil's Tower, more or less, bookended with nights in Rapid City since we have a long flight.
Does that seem like the right amount of time for each area, and the right order? It would put us at Mt. Rushmore on Monday, Labor Day -- is that a mistake? Will it be crazy crowded?
Or instead of a big loop, would a three-pronged spoke from RC to each area be better? Is highway 18 a nice drive -- is there a good southern route from Badlands to Hot Springs, or is it better to get back on I-90?