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Family Trip to Black Hills over 4th of July

Minneapolis...
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Family Trip to Black Hills over 4th of July

We are planning a family trip from Minneapolis with 10 and 13 year old girls to the Black Hills June 28-July 6th. We want to stay first night somewhere between Sioux Falls and Mitchell in a hotel, then we will be camping in Hill City through the 5th. We want to figure out the perfect itinerary to see everything! Here is our must see list, can anyone advise the following

1. A place to stay in SF or Mitchell that we can park our 26 ft trailer the first night.

2. A day by day itinerary

3. Anything that is a must see that we haven't listed. Not as interested in Crazy Horse or waterpark type attractions. Also, any ideas on where to get discounts on some of these?

Custer State Park - Needles Highway, Sylvan Lake Maybe spend entire day, where do we start?

Mount Rushmore - which day to avoid the worst crowd

Jewel or Wind Cave

Bear Country - what time of day?

Some type of chuck wagon dinner

Maybe horseback riding for girls while husband fishes

Thanks so much!

Apple Valley...
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1. Re: Family Trip to Black Hills over 4th of July

In Custer State Park, a good way to start is early in the morning with the Wildlife Loop (and Mt Coolidge Fire Lookout for the views) and then on to Iron Mountain Rd and up to Keystone for afternoon at Mt Rushmore. Stop at the Alpine Slide Attraction while in Keystone as the girls will enjoy that. Be sure to go back for the evening program at Mt Rushmore, very patriotic!

On another day start maybe at Jewel Cave in the morning (no reservations this year) then head to Needles Hwy and Sylvan Lake area in Custer State Park. The lake is a nice place for a picnic and has water activities as well as an interesting fairly easy hike around with some rock climbing the kids will enjoy, just beautiful!

Be sure to see the Badlands Scenic Loop Rd on the way into the Black Hills/Rapid City area after leaving your first night camping spot. Enter at the Interior, SD exit and exit at the Wall, SD exit, not too far from Wall Drug.

From what I have read on here, Mt Rushmore has celebration on July 3rd so I would maybe avoid that day if you are looking for a less busy time, although to be honest, there will probably be some crowds any day. I did not find the crowds too bad, just have to be patient trying to get pictures. Also make sure to do the Presidential Trail which takes you up closer for better pics. I guess do Mt Rushmore one of the first few days you are there as it may get busier the closer to the holiday weekend?

The animals are more active in the morning or early evening when its not as hot. I did Bear Country around 5pm or so I think and it was nice, they were out and walking around a lot and the baby bears are so much fun to watch! Bear Country USA is located very near Ft Hays Chuckwagon which was an awesome musical performance show, also nearby is the Cosmos Mystery Area attraction which I found very fun and got lots of recommendations from total strangers for before I went.

Custer State Park has several lakes for fishing and Blue Bell Lodge has horseback riding. I am sure there are other options maybe even in Hill City.

You would also have time probably with the # of days scheduled, to go up to the Northern Hills and visit Spearfish Canyon Scenic Drive and short hikes to some waterfalls as a day trip?

Are you interested in hiking, gold panning, history? Hill City is the start of the 1880 train route and there are many other attractions. I would say that Crazy Horse is worth a quick visit and they do an evening laser show as well.

Visit www.travelsd.com for more a travel guide, ideas, maps, sample itineraries, etc.

Edited: 24 May 2013, 17:31
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2. Re: Family Trip to Black Hills over 4th of July

There's really no place to spend the night BETWEEN Sioux Falls and Mitchell. You will have to pick one or the other. MItchell is about an hour west of Sioux Falls.

Is the trailer you're referring to a camping trailer? If so, instead of a hotel, would you consider camping at Jellystone in Brandon, SD? It's basically a suburb of Sioux Falls. It's clean and has lots of activities for kids (nice pool, jumping pillow, mini golf, activities, hayrides). Do be warned, it's close to I-90, so if you make a reservation request, ask for something in a row further away from the freeway.

If you do not want to do a campground, I usually suggest the Brimark Inn for good budget lodging. My parents like it and it rates well on TA. I'm not sure about trailer parking, although it seems to be in a somewhat open area. I would call and ask. For something more upscale, I'd recommend the Clubhouse Suites (again, ask about trailer parking). The Clubhouse is in a more congested area, which could make trailer parking challenging. The flip side is that there are more restaurants nearby than you'll find at the Brimark.

I would suggest getting gas at the Flying J just south of the intersection of I-90 and I-29. Be warned there are often lines for pumps because everyone knows it's the cheapest gas around. They also have special pumps specifically for people with RVs and campers and nice RV/trailer parking.

In Mitchell, I'd recommend the KOA. It's close to, yet far enough from the freeway that it's quiet. It's clean and well-maintained. The pool is freezing cold.

I've never found a Mitchell motel that is exactly to my liking. The newer and nicer ones closest to the interstate are surprisingly expensive for a town of that size in the middle of SD. Others have some issues (as you know, you get what you pay for). The Days Inn has a nice waterslide, but I experienced multiple problems when I stayed there.

If you stay in Sioux Falls, be sure to check out Falls Park on the way out or on the way home.

3. Re: Family Trip to Black Hills over 4th of July

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