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2011 vacation

Calgary, Canada
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2011 vacation

I'm in the beginning stages of planning a 2 week travel trailer vacation to S Dakota from Alberta in late July 2011. Some questions I have are:

1. what is the most scenic way from southern alberta to custer state park.

2. which campgrounds have dump stations within the campground

3. which attractions are must see

4. Should we go back to Alberta the same way or go up thru N Dakota; and if so what should we see along the way.

My husband and I are in our early 40's; no children. We enjoy hiking and geocaching. Any reccomendations are greatly appreciated.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: 2011 vacation

Hi Tracey,

Here's a link to a thread about geocaching from about 2 months ago that you may find helpful:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60865-i1594-k3888…

Tatanka visits the area annually and is very knowledgeable.

I will leave your specific camping questions to someone who camps, but I can tell you many enjoy camping in Custer State Park. Here's a link to campgrounds there:

…sd.gov/state-parks/…

Others prefer more amenities at campgrounds, so you might like Palmer Gulch:

http://www.palmergulch.com/

Here's my short list of must sees:

Custer State Park

Mt Rushmore

Crazy Horse

Badlands National Park

Devil's Tower

Wind Cave

Jewel Cave

Depending on how much time you will actually have in the Black Hills, you could possibly add Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon,and perhaps some of the many privately owned caves in the area.

From the sounds of it, I think you will really enjoy Custer State Park. While there, be sure to check out Sylvan Lake, drive the Needles Hwy and Wildlife Loop, and Iron Mountain Rd (drive from south to north for the best views of Rushmore).

For travel route questions, I'd post this on the Road Trips forum as well.

For additonal information on attractions in the area, be sure to order a travel guide at travelsd.com.

Please feel free to return with more questions. We'd be glad to help.

Golden, Canada
Destination Expert
for Regina
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2. Re: 2011 vacation

Stopping anywhere along the way? You've been to Yellowstone, Glacier, and Waterton?

I would not go through North Dakota as it wouldn't be practical to take anything other than the most westerly route and US-85 is painfully desolate... it makes Hwy 1 east of Medicine Hat look exciting, lol.

I'd consider taking highways on both sides of Glacier as the north south routes, other routes further east in Montana are also possible depends what you want to see.

South from Calgary through Kananaskis Country skirting Waterton and Glacier through Bozeman and east from there... possibly through Yellowstone, Beartooth Highway if you like mountain driving and 14 through the Bighorn Mountains eventually reaching SD. Return would be similar area but other highway options exist. Head up past Flathead Lake, east side, and return via Crowsnest Pass.

Edited: 27 October 2010, 08:20
Golden, Canada
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for Regina
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3. Re: 2011 vacation

Before you scratch ND, do look into Theodore Roosevelt National Park both North and South Units.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: 2011 vacation

wow, this forum doesn't get too busy. I do appreciate the feedback though. Must book something soon.........

Brookings, SD
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5. Re: 2011 vacation

Also be aware that by last week in July, traffic really picks up in anticipation of the Sturigs Motorcycle Rally in August.

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: 2011 vacation

I would be looking at leaving CSP around July 25th or 26th and hoping to be in Southern Alberta by Friday. Any reccommendations for camping for a night in Sturgis, Deadwood, Spearfish area? Would like to tour the area before heading home. Need a dumpstation close by.

Thanks,

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: 2011 vacation

Another question. Is the camping in Custer State Park the "best" to do all excursions listed above? We have yet to book a spot but have explored some of the campgrounds. (They are all very small with very few trees) When I google mapped Badlands, it's almost 2.5 hours away from CSP. (that's alot of driving in one day) We have never been to the area and are hoping to take in as much as possible, while still enjoying a "relaxing" vacation. We would prob be in SD from the 18th-25th or 26th. We have been to Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP. My guess is Custer will be alot like Yellowstone; am I right?

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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8. Re: 2011 vacation

Custer is fine, but you will have a bit further to drive out to the Badlands as you noted. Honestly, once you get on I90, it will go very quickly. More than 1/2 of the drive can be on there. To me, 2.5 hours isn't really that bad, but I realize everyone has different opinions on drive times, particularly when he/she may want to relax more.

One thought might be to divide your time, but I don't know if you want to uproot your campsite, I'd just go for it. IMO, Keystone or Hill City are slightly more centralized, but I'm sure camping in Custer would be a fantastic experience. I am not a camper, so I really can't make a good recommendation there. Some do like Palmer Gulch Campground which is located in the Keystone/Hill City area.

As for Custer State Park being like Yellowstone..well..not exactly. The main similarity here is the wildlife. For its size, you will find a pretty high abundance of wildlife in Custer. Of course, not as much as Yellowstone, however. The scenery is quite different as well. As you know, Yellowstone has a large diversity of features like thermal areas, mountains, waterfalls, and lakes. Custer's scenery is less colorful, but beautiful in its own right. The Cathedral Spires along with Needles Hwy are particularly striking, as is Sylvan Lake. Similar to Yellowstone, you will find plenty of recreational opportunities in Custer, such as fishing, hiking, and horseback riding.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: 2011 vacation

Though small, the campground at Blue Bell Lodge in Custer State Park is very shaded and a beautiful, serene campground. We have camped there and absolutely loved it.

Calgary, Canada
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10. Re: 2011 vacation

Is it worth it to spend a couple of nights in Badlands National Park? If we are going to dirve 2.5 hours from Custer (still don't have campground selected) I figured we might as well stay for a night or 2.