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PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Ohio
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PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Starting mid-June my husband, 11 yr old daughter and I are embarking on a major road trip from Ohio with the pop up tent camper. Our 1st major stop will be this area. I'm allowing about 3 1/2 days here. We would like to see Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore, Badlands, Custer State Park, Needles, Wall Drug & do the JR Paleontologist Program at The Mammoth Site. Wind Cave & Cosomos Mystery is on the bubble. Also my daughter, I'm sure would love gold mining but can't find much on it. Am I crazy? Can we fit this all in? How would you arrange it to make the most of your time? I'm clueless at this point. We are fairly active people and love hiking, biking but nothing streneous. My husband loves to fish. We love the Native American culture. Any suggestions would be very appreciated. After this area, we are headed to Cody for for a night in route to Yellowstone. Would you stop at Devil's Tower? Thanks, Rhonda

Everett, Washington
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1. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Allowing 3-1/2 days in Black Hills or including trip from OH? From OH it would be fairly easy 2-day Custer.

If the full 3-1/2 days to tour then for the noted sites on interest I would suggest a base in Custer (the town) and there are a number of campgrounds available to park the trailer and day trip from there. Final day exiting the Hills via Spearfish Canyon on way to I-90. Badlands and Wall Drug would be on the way to Black Hills so might necessitate a pretty long first day to get to Sioux Falls or Mitchell allowing time for Badlands in late morning and Wall Drug for lunch.

A day to go north to Rushmore and Crazy Horse (great Nat. Am. museum, displays and shop). Then a day to swing south through Custer park and Needles Hwy and down to Hot Springs and Mammoth site. Maybe even time for water park/pool at Evan's Plunge?

If you stop at Devils Tower it will seriously delay route to Cody over the Bighorns. Do-able if you leave early. Better yet do 2 nts in Custer them move up to Spearfish or Surgis area (Bear Butte State Park as a few campsites) on 3rd day via Lead/Deadwood (better chance of gold panning there) and leave that other 1/2 day to get to Devils Tower. There is (or was last I saw) a nice KOA at the base of the Tower (outside the Monument) that plays the movie "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind" every night with the tower looming up behind the screen. On route to DT exit at exit 199 and turn right on the frontage road for a qucik view of the Vore Buffalo Jump. Nice short hike to the bottom where all the bones are.

Then a fairly easy day to Cody. Personally I like Powder River Pass and Ten Sleep Canyon (spectacular) out of Buffalo versus Granite Pass and Wind River Canyon. About the same distance either way. On the way up either pass as you do the initial climb be sure to look back at the vista from various turnout spots and scenic overlooks.

Pitman, New Jersey
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2. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Hi Rhonda,

As Sequim said, you could definitely see the Badlands/Wall Drug on the way to the Black Hills. I am taking your post to read that you will camp in this area for 3.5 days?

You could probably see a lot of your list in the 3.5 days. You will be busy, but you could do quite a bit. If you love Native American culture, you will really enjoy Crazy Horse and the museum there. I would allot at least a morning there, and I would also allot around 3 hours for Mt Rushmore. If possible, the lighting ceremony at night is very moving.

As for Custer SP, some people spend days, and some do a quick drive through. Do you want to experience other sections of Custer SP besides Needles Hwy? The Wildlife Loop is great fun and joins Wind Cave National Park. You will see bison, wild burros, pronghorn, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, deer, and more here! Iron Mountain Rd is known for its pigtail bridges and tunnels that frame Mt. Rushmore,and Sylvan Lake is a lovely picnic spot and has boating and level trails. With your limited time, you will probably pick the section(s) that interest you most.

We did visit the Mammoth Site and enjoyed it. It's a little bit further out of the way, but you could probably fit it in. We spent about 2 hours here, but with the program your daughter will participate in, it will probably take longer.

I would nix the Cosmos and try to fit at least Jewel or Wind Cave in. I preferred Jewel, but it's really a matter of opinion. Jewel is more open and has a wider variety of formations. Wind Cave is known for its boxwork, a unique formation that resembles spider webs.

As for gold mines, you have Big Thunder in Keystone that offers tours and panning, and there's Broken Boot outside Deadwood that also offers panning. We toured Big Thunder one evening after dinner. It didn't take long. My then 7 year old daughter said it was lame and liked the gift shop better. :) As Sequim mentioned, you find more relating to mining in the northern section of the hills.

Sequim spoke of making a base in Custer. You can also consider the towns of Hill City or Keystone. They are also central to attractions. Have you ordered a guide from travelsd.com? This booklet has a listing of campgrounds that will probably be helpful to you.

I have not driven from the Black Hills to Cody, so I am unfamiliar with the drive time. If you can see Devil's Tower, I'd highly recommend it. There's a nice level 2 mile trail around the base of the tower and a fun prairie dog town here. You could probably do a quick look in about 2 hours. An early start would definitely be in order.

I hope this helps some. Please let us know if you have more questions. We will try to help however we can. Have fun planning!

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

I think that you can fit most of this in your trip time. There is a place to pan for gold in Keystone. We didn't spend a lot of time in Custer State park because we were headed to Yellowstone and I knew that we would see lots of wildlife there and in Cody.

We left Keystone very early and went thru Deadwood and stopped at Mt. Moriah cemetery, ate lunch in Sundance and then went to Devil's Tower and on to Cody and it was a long day in a SUV. We did have a terrible rain storm on the interstate and had to slow down after we left Devil's Tower.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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4. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

We were in the Custer area last Summer and spent 5 days exploring. I would have to say my kids enjoyed touring Jewel cave more than our trip to the Mammoth site. Also, as previous posters have said travel time to the Mammoth site is longer than you'd expect. My boys(9,7,6) enjoyed our hikes around both Sylvan and Legion lakes, too.

We made the drive to Devils Tower and felt it was worth the trip...take the ranger tour and you'll get some good insight into the history of Devils Tower..

So much to see, so little time:)

Endless Mountains...
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5. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Sequim88 been out this area many times and never knew of the Vore buffalo jump.Looks very interesting and will stop there next time.

You gave some great advice and I'll add a little.

Stop at the Lewis And Clark expedition visitor center

near the Chamberlin exit off I90.Great visit here and the view of the Missouri river and the roving hills of South Dakota below a SPECTACULAR sight.

Mitchell nice stop,vist Corn Palace and dine at the Depot restaurant right up the road.

Stop at the Badlands then Wall Drug for lunch before heading up to the Black Hills

I would make my base in Hill City...make sure to dine here at the Alpine Inn (AWESOME).

Leave Hill City early and on way to Cody stop at Deadwood and time permitting visit Mt Moriah cemetery

where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane buried side by side.Devils Tower next a must.

We visit here many times from Pa (driving) and always felt never enough time in these beautiful places you are visiting.Also would try To visit Grand Teton Park, a short drive from Yellowstone..

Can't miss on this trip.....

Everett, Washington
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6. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

The VBJ is one of those quirky little finds "on the road". We first learned of it from, of all things, a Vore family member while sitting in a hot tub in Thermopolis, WY. The guy was a watershed resources manager for the state and after talking about job opportunities for our U-ND Geography major daughter he mentioned the buffalo jump. He said he grew up up on the hill across the frontage road. The family donated the 8+ acres to UW (and later the VBJ Foundation) for research.

There is a pretty good web site at: http://vorebuffalojump.org/

Especially the history page.

In the summer there are usually really helpful students from the U of Wyoming at the site to explain things and after hours there is a display board as well. The excavation site itself has a big cover that is closed after hours so visiting during the day gets a glimpse where the bones are being dug out. It's an active U-Wyo research site. Unlike a lot of tourist attractions education seems to be the key here. Free to visit but a donation is highly suggested.

This is one of our "every time we pass by" stops just to see what has changed. Especially appropriate for anyone interested in Native American culture.

Endless Mountains...
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7. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

Sequim, looking forward to stopping there on our next trip out there.Great info you provided on this.

If I lived in St Paul i would be in the South Dakota /Yellowstone area every year.Lucky you except for your weather..

Liked the stretch of I90 in Minn.when coming off I35 Minn has nice welcome sign, SD a lot to be desired.

SD real tacky....

Just a few points...traveling this great country.

Endless Mountains...
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8. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

That is the South Dakota welcome sign that is real tacky.South Dakota Black Hills AWESOME....

love Hill City....

Everett, Washington
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9. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

We'll be "passing through" again in August on way home from son's place in Seattle. We usually stop for a couple days in Thermopolis then 1-day it from there but this time might stop in Deadwood for a night. Which will mean time to check out the new visitor building at VBJ.

SD signs and rest areas are not a elaborate as MN's but then again the population there is much lower and they don't have MN's high income taxes. Heck, SD has no income tax at all!

Do you mean this:

iamontheroad.com/images/…20sign.jpg (just a pics from a random sites)

as opposed to:

mountainproject.com/images/27/30/105812730_m… ?

I will gladly trade tacky signs for no state income tax. ;) That was darned nice for the year we lived in Mitchell, SD.

Rapid City, SD
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10. Re: PLEASE HELP!!!! I need help figuring out my itinerary

I find the "SPEED LIMIT STRICTLY ENFORCED" signs that are located just past the Welcome to SD signs the most tacky. Back when the interstate speed limit went up to 75 the state thought that they were going to ticket anyone going a drop over 75. Well, after 15 years or so, you can drive 80-82 without getting pulled over but we still have the signs to remind us.