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Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Gilbert, Arizona
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Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Hello! We were supposed to come last October 2 days after the blizzard happened. We canceled our trip/flight and lost a lot of money. Well, we are attempting the trip again! This time we will be there from Friday, July 11 - Friday, July 18. We arrive around 10am on Friday, and fly out early the following Friday. We are staying on the west edge of Rapid City at Lake Park Campground. We have a 6 year old girl. Since we are going to be there for quite awhile, I'm sure we can fit everything in, but I just need help grouping activities together. We want to do one of the caves..wind or jewel. I can't remember which one was recommended to us with small children. We want to see all the major sites & drives. Also, is there any horseback tour that is recommended especially with a young child who has never been on a horse? Also, does anyone know of any pow wow celebrations we could attend? Thank you so much in advance for all your help & opinions!! It is GREATLY appreciated! :)

South Dakota
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1. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Good groupings:

-Reptile Gardens with Bear Country

-Jewel Cave, Crazy Horse, Sylvan Lake, Needles Highway

-Mt. Coolidge, Wildlife Loop, Wind Cave, Mammoth Site

-Wall Drug, Badlands

-Iron Mt Rd, Rushmore, Alpine Slide, Big Thunder Gold Mine

-Devil's Tower, Spearfish Canyon, Fish Hatchery

I would also squeeze in Storybook Island somewhere. Since you are staying in Rapid, this should be easy to do.

Can't help you with the horse. Brule is recommended on here in lieu of a pow wow.

I remember you from last fall and always wondered how it panned out. Sorry you had to take a hit and I hope it goes better this time. Kudos to you for allowing enough days to see the area. We have had a ton of people on here lately trying to squeeze this in in two days.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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2. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills


I remember your also. So sorry things didn't work out the 1st itme.

Here's a link to pow wows in South Dakota:


I don't think any will correspond in regards to area and timing of your trip. Brule is a highly recommended native American show with contemporary music. Concerts occur outside Hill City at the High Country Guest Ranch.


For horseback riding, I'd contact a stable directly and ask your question. Most of us on here are not experienced with horseback riding. The most recommended stables are Blue Bell in Custer State Park and Andy's Trail Rides in Lead.

I am not sure if you know how to access your previous postings. You got some tips from us before, and here's a link to your original posting so you can go back and review. I think it will answer a lot of your questions.


If you'd like, feel free to give us a laundry list of attractions you'd like to see, and we will put together an itinerary for you.

Let us know how else we can assist.

Gilbert, Arizona
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3. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Thank you both again for replying! Yes, Allegiant canceled flights that weekend until the morning we were supposed to fly out. Since there still was no power & people stranded no way were we about to fly into that…plus if you remember the government was shut down! Oh my, our trip just wasn't supposed to happen in October, but we are excited to try this again! I'm sure you will be having a record heat wave, but at least we are from AZ so we are used to hot! lol

So we arrive on a Friday around 10:00am. We will have a full 7 days to explore the area! Thanks for the link to the old post on groupings. I guess I need help in daily schedule as to spread drives out, and to not fit too much into one day. I don't know how long one would expect to spend at these sites.

I know we would like to do:

Wall Drug / Badlands

Jewel Cave / Crazy Horse (would also like to see the laser show) / Needles Hwy / Sylvan Lake

Mt. Rushmore (would also like to see the night lighting show) / Alpine Slide / Big Thunder Gold Mine

Spearfish Canyon (hike Roughlock Falls) / Devils Tower

Bear Country / Storybook Island / Reptile Gardens

1880's Train from Keystone to Hill City (I think our daughter would love this)

Mammoth Site?

We would also like to add in a:

2 hour horseback riding at Blue Bell Lodge

Chuckwagon Dinner & Show (which is best?)

Chapel in the Hills

Brule Show

Any suggestions are very appreciated!! Thank you both for your advice!!

Arlington, Virginia
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4. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Based on my trip to the Black Hills last summer, this is how much time I would allow for some of the places you want to visit:

1. Wall Drug - 1 to 1.5 hours depending on how much shopping/eating you tend to do

2. Badlands - Highly recommend a full day and overnight here

3. Sylvan Lake - The 1-mile walk around the lake, which I recommend, should take less than an hour. Add time if you want to rent canoes/kayaks/paddle boats or swim.

4. Mt. Rushmore Evening Lighting--Arrive around 5 pm. This will give you enough time to walk the Presidential Trail, see the Sculptor's Studio, visit the museum and see the excellent film and get a bite to eat before taking seats NLT 8:15 - 8:30 for the 9pm program. I recommend staying about 30 - 45 minutes after the program ends to allow the traffic from the parking garage to leave. You can look around the gift shop during this time.

5. Reptile Gardens - 3 hours

6. Chapel in the Hills - 30 minutes for the chapel and buildings; another 30 minutes to walk the trail around the site if you want

Pitman, New Jersey
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5. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

Ok, I will take a stab at an itinerary:

July 11: Arrive at 10 a.m. Head for the Badlands, spending the day. Lunch or dinner at Wall Drug. Head back to your campground outside of Rapid.

July 12: Bear Country; Storybook Island; Chapel in the Hills (won't take long as Longhorn mentioned, unless you start talking to the caretakers like we did and wind up spending an evening...lol). Brule show

July 13: Spearfish Canyon & Devil's Tower. If you get an early start you will be back before dinner. By leaving early, you can get to see something else in the evening. I'd recommend Reptile Gardens. I think they are open til 7 or 8 in summer.

July 14: 1880 Train Ride; Head to Blue Bell Stables in the afternoon for your ride. I would recommend doing the chuck wagon dinner at Blue Bell Lodge. I have not done a chuckwagon dinner, but this one is highly rated on here. It is more expensive than others. I hear you get to ride a wagon to an outdoor area where everyon dines and listens to western music. The food at Custer State Park lodges is excellent, so I'm sure the dinner food quality is very good. Another alternative to this chuckwagon would be Fort Hayes, which others have liked. Circle B and Flying T are others.

July 15: Jewel Cave (arrive 1st thing to insure an early tour time); Needles Hwy; Sylvan Lake, stopping for a possible picnic and walk around the shore; Crazy Horse

July 16: Wildlife Loop (Included this because I know your child will love it); Mammoth Site; Wind Cave (I included this too because I think you could fit it in, and Wind and Jewel are very different caves. Both are worthwhile).

July 17: Iron Mt Rd (Drive from South to North) to Rushmore. See the monument by day. Take a break and head to the Alpine Slide and Big Thunder Mine. Return for the lighting ceremony. I highly recommend eating at Big Time Pizza in Keystone.

These days could be moved around in any order, but I would try to see the Badlands on your arrival day if possible. You are only an hour away from the airport.

Let us know if more questions arise.

6. Re: Itinerary suggestions for a week in the Black Hills

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