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re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

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Chicago, IL
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re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

Hi! I am back! :) Because I realized there was so much to do, and the fact that we do want to do alot, but still need to have a little slower pace because of our 7 year-old, we added another day to the Keystone area. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Also, we love to go to places where the locals go and also eat the local cuisine. Any tips on places not to miss - or quirky places - or the best bison dinners (my husband would be all over this!) would be appreciated! :)

Tuesday, July 31: Leave Chicago bright and early, arrive in Mitchell, SD that night. Spend night in Mitchell.

Wed. Aug. 1st: Tour the Corn Palace (quirky, I know, but a fun stop), drive to Wall Drug, tour the Badlands. Arrive in Keystone that evening (maybe make the Mt. Rushmore night lighting ceremony if time allows?). Or just relax in the town, etc.

Thursday, Aug. 2nd: Custer State Park wild life loop - picnic by Sylvan Lake, Wind Cave? Mt Rushmore? Spend night in Keystone.

Friday, Aug. 3rd: Crazy Horse? Jewel Cave? Spend night in Keystone.

Saturday: Head out to Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood. Spend night in Sundance.

Sunday: Up early to explore Devil's Tower, drive to Cody, take in rodeo at night, spend night in Cody.

So we are more open now as far as our time and not as rushed in the area. If we were to explore only one cave is there a thought on which one to choose? Also, we would like to ride the Alpine Slide - thoughts? Any and all info is appreciated! Thank you! :)


Pitman, New Jersey
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1. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

Hi Tracy,

It's certainly a workable plan and won't be crazy busy.

On 8/2, I'd do the following:

Wildlife Loop (early am)

Wind Cave

Iron Mt. Rd.


Alpine Slide


Jewel Cave

Needles Hwy

Picnic at Sylvan Lake, plus walking the shore

Crazy Horse

I would add Devil's Tower to your Spearfish day. There's not a whole lot for a youngster in Deadwood, and it would allow you to get to Cody sooner.

As for choosing a cave, if your child has never toured one, Jewel is a good starter. It's more open and not so cramped. Some people feel claustrophobic in Wind Cave, and some are unphased (me.) They will turn out the lights in either one. It's good to know so you can prepare your child. Personally, I would not choose, as you have time for both, and they are equally worthwhile.

As for the best bison dinner..Blue Bell Lodge in Custer State Park! The State Game Lodge gets rave reviews too. Service is excellent at Blue Bell.

Let us know if more questions come up.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

After coming to the Black Hills since 1998, usually 2 x's a year, we have found some restaurants that we favor. Some are known to tourists and others are mainly known by the locals. To add to the excellent advice from srltravelplanner here are our suggestions for dining.

For the best bison dinners, any of the lodges in Custer State Park offer bison burgers, steaks and local game such as pheasant, elk, trout, etc. Blue Bell also offers a Buffalo Meatloaf which is very good. Both State Game Lodge and Sylvan Lake offer the biggest variety of buffalo and always have excellent dinners. State Game Lodge has a luncheon buffet that offers an excellent Buffalo Stew. Legion Lake's little cafe only offers buffalo burgers, I believe, but is also a good place for a light lunch. Game Lodge and Sylvan Lake's dining rooms are the fanciest but you can dress casually for any of the dining rooms. If you go on the website for the Custer State Park Resorts, you can look over the menus and prices of all the lodge dining rooms.

The Powder House Lodge, about a mile north of Keystone on US Hwy. 16, also offers buffalo and wild game as well as chicken, pasta, fish and burgers. They also have a nice wine list. We always have good meals here whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. For more casual meals in Keystone, there is a grill on top of the mountain, where the Alpine Slide is, that has excellent burgers. I am surprised srltravelplanner didn't mention Big Time Pizza. She raves about the pizza at Big Time. I tease her that she needs to come to Chicago for pizza to rave about. Although it does not compare to Chicago's top pizzarias, I will admit that it is the best pizza we have had west of Illinois.

As previously mentioned, the Alpine Inn in Hill City is a favorite with the tourists as well as the locals. We actually prefer their lunch menu over their dinner menu. Lunch is German fare entrees and/or wonderful sandwiches. The only thing offered on the dinner menu is a 4oz. & 6oz. filet mignon, baked potatoe and a lettuce wedge salad, though at a very decent price. Desserts are wonderful so make sure you leave some room. Lines are long for the dinner hour and they are closed on Sundays. They DO NOT accept credit cards; CASH ONLY. They do have an ATM on the premisis.

US Highway 385 north towards Deadwood has a couple local favorites. We always dine at the Horse Creek Inn about 8 miles north of Hill City near Sheridan Lake. The menu consists of steaks, seafood, chicken, sitr frys, etc., and prime rib on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is usually a Chef's Special every night. The restaurant just recently changed hands and we have not eaten there since the new owner's took over. However, our local friends say it is still good. As you get closer to Deadwood you will find the Sugar Shack, a hole-in-the-wall type place with great burgers. It used to be mainly a local place but the tourists have gotten the word. It is usually very busy.

Once you get into Deadwood we have four places we usually go to eat. For a casual lunch Kevin Costner's Midnight Star, on Main Street, is a sports bar with so-so food but the restaurant is filled with costumes from his movies. Jake's Atop the Midnight Star is Costner's 5 star restaurant which is excellent and pricey as well. The Deadwood Grille at the Lodge of Deadwood is Jake's competition but the prices are more reasonable. We really like dining here. The Deadwood Social Club is another establishment that serves a very good meal, mainly italian entrees.

Our absolute favorite local dive is the cafe at Cheyenne Crossing, at the south entrance to Spearfish Canyon. Fantastic food and desserts all made from scratch, reasonable prices, very casual and friendly service. This little restaurant has won awards and all the locals come here. It is family owned and they treat you like family. No matter what time of day you will get a great meal. Our favorite is the Indian Taco and their pies and their carrot cake and their ..... I could go on and on. I am going to give you their website so that you can view a sample of their menu, check out their hours and figure out how to get there.


Aside from Cheyenne Crossing and the Alpine Inn a great place for pie is the Purple Pie House on US Hwy. 16 in the town of Custer. You can not miss it. It is purple.

Edited: 26 June 2012, 03:57
Jackson, Wisconsin
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3. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

There is also an online coupon for the alpine slide

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

slrtravelplan and mountainmama - what a WEALTH of information!! Thank you SO much! And such a quick response! I am printing all of this out and it will be a great guide! And mountainmama - all the food suggestions!! Thank you!!! We cannot wait. It's funny - I made all of our hotel reservations in January, but everything away in a folder, and am just now looking at the details and am getting so excited. Thank you again! :)

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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5. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day


You and I are going to share a Chicago pizza someday!! :) They don't have pizza like Big Time does here in Jersey.


Yes, I LOVE Big Time Pizza. The cheeseburger pizza is extremely yummy. This is a must for casual dining, IMO. Alpine Inn is wonderful too, especially at lunch.

Enjoy all the other great suggestions from Mt. Mama. I've gotta check out Cheyenne Crossing. It sounds wonderful.

6. Re: re-working itinerary - just added an extra day

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