July 30, 2011

Mt. Rushmore here we come!

Okay guys, we're planning our summer vacation to Mt. Rushmore in beautiful South Dakota! I would love to hear your favorite places to visit.....what are the sites we must see? Any favorite towns, shops, restaurants to visit along the way? What about hotels, are they all booked this time of year? We'd love to stay at some fun little cabins along the way if they have those. We'll be traveling up through Western Kansas through Nebraska.

Here's some tourist attractions I've seen online: Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Parkway, Road Kit Route, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Badlands National Park. What are your favorites?

I know you guys are great at offering suggestions, especially those of you that have visited the area or live nearby. So thanks in advance!

Also.......I've spent quite a bit of time preparing my Road Kit Mini Album and will be sharing posts all week long that show little tips, ideas I've tried, pre-made embellishments...stay tuned starting tomorrow!

34 comments:

Christa said...

We enjoyed Wall Drug (a store), but I can't remember exactly where it would be in regards to the rest of your travel plans. I thought it was near the Badlands, but it's been a few years. Enjoy your trip! :)

Jennifer McGee said...

Have a fun, fun, trip! My favorite memories from my family vacations growing up were at Badlands Nat'l Park. I loved the trip to Mt. Rushmore, too. Can't give any advice on places to stay it's been over 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

being from SD Mt Rushmore is a must.Yes the hotels r usually booked ahead. Reservations r a must especially now as the Bikers r starting to roll in for the Rally.If u have a chance 2 stop at the Busted Nut Bar & Grill in Draper SD u should. Super food! Enjoy ur trip!

Amy said...

Also from SD, you might want to look into Bear Country, USA & Reptile Gardens.

Linda said...

All of the above :) We borrowed an RV to take my mother (75) to see Mt. Rushmore....and did all of the sites mentioned. The drive alone was some of the best! We threw in Yellowstone & Devil's Tower. We went last August and it was a little later but we were able to find hotels as the RV was not big enough for all 5 adults. Enjoy your trip!!!

Crafting Katie said...

Hey Michelle! I'm just finishing up a road trip with my son and my parents. We drove from California to Michigan and are on our way back. You can check out my son's blog to see a lot of places that we visited that are on your route: http://www.summerroadtrip11.blogspot.com

LisaVB said...

Sturgis week is starting so you may have a hard time getting a hotel room anywhere in the Black Hills area this week. Definitely call ahead to get a room!

There is a hot springs indoor pool that was fun. Needles highway is a beautiful drive. Custer State Park, Bear Country, Reptile Garden. Keystone had a train that took you up in the forest that was fun.

If you are coming up I-29 from Kansas...my store is about 30 minutes off i_29 (it's the same town Betsy Veldman's from and we'd love to meet you for lunch or something!)

Michelle Tech said...

OH dear, are you coming here between now August 14th? The Sturgis Rally is on (that's where I'm from, but I live between there and Hill City now, kind of in the middle of those 2 and Deadwood and Rapid City). Hotels will be all be booked and travel in the hills will be pokey and full of motorcycles. But still fun!

If you find that you need a place to stay, our guest house is available! My scrapbooking/stamping friend from Iowa (and her husband) stay in our house while we operate a large rally campground in Sturgis, so the main house is full, but the guest house sleeps 6 or so!

Contact me if you wish! You are certainly welcome to stay!!!

OH, don't miss the 1880 Train in Hill City, and grab dinner at The Alpine Inn there too! So many awesome things to do here. Swim at Pactola Lake, so beautiful here in the mountains.

Ms. Craftsalot said...

I live 45 minutes from Devil's Tower, so I can vouch that that is an awesome site! Wall Drug is in Wall, SD. At Mt.Rushmore make sure to walk the trail that takes you closer to the heads-great photo ops there!!! Bear Country USA is fun with allnof the wild animals, to drive through, but you get to walk around the baby and small animal enclosures. Spearfish Canyon is beautiful to drive through which you could do driving to Devil's Tower or coming from there. Also Hill City is a neat little town with lots of artist shops and great restaurants-especially the soda shop one. And Hill City is near Custer. Crazy Horse is worth the visit. Their museum is full of history. But if you don't have time for it, at least drive by it and get pictures from the road. It's just down the road from Mt.Rushmore. Have fun and enjoy!!!! If you have any questions please feel free to email me and i can try to get whatever info you may need. amandalsmith75 at live dot com .

Colleen said...

It is so exciting that you are heading to Mt. Rushmore! The Black Hills area is so beautiful. You've already identified many great spots. Here are a couple more to consider:
There is a Mammoth Site (archaeological dig site) in Hot Springs, SD with a building enclosing much of the site http://www.mammothsite.com/hours.html I've gone multiple times and it is well worth a visit if you can work it in. Also, depending on which route you take through Nebraska, Carhenge in Alliance http://www.carhenge.com is a great "photo op" for your girls (with your new Instax camera) to add to your Road Trip Album or the Smash Book! Have a wonderful trip and I can't wait to read all your tips this week on the blog!

Colleen said...

One more scenic drive (you might already have considered since you highlighted Custer State Park) in the Black Hills is Iron Mountain Road (highway 16A). It is different than Needles Highway (highway 87 with breathtaking scenery, too!). Iron Mountain Road is famous for it's Pigtail Bridges, wondrous scenery, wildlife, and tunnels FRAMING Mt. Rushmore. It won't disappoint, though as a previous comment noted there may be quite a bit of motorcycle traffic with the Sturgis Rally this time of year! Are you a closet-biker and that's really the reason you're heading to the Black Hills? heehee :-) http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/activities/drives.aspx

Eveline said...

Have fun.
Eveline.

Sheri said...

Be sure you include one closing ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. It is incredibly moving and a must if you are going. There is enough to do there that if you get there late afternoon you could poke around and wait for it. You know Crazy Horse is just up the road. Don't know if it has ever opened but you can see it from the road. And yes, Wall Drug is a fun place to go. It is 70 miles from Mt. Rushmore. Sure wish you were going through Omaha NE. We could have a Pepsi and a hug - Not in that order though :)

I'm Renee said...

OMG!!!
I haven't been to Mt. Rushmore...but it's in our plans for next Summer! :)
My dear friend Cathy (the Button Boutique...)
has a vacation home in Montana and since love-of-life-man-that-I-married sees himself as the Great American Hunter/Fisherman/Gatherer...only logical since he grew up in DETROIT...*giggle*...and has always wanted to go fly-fishing in Montana...so when I mentioned it to her...she has welcomed us to use it when we can.
Since we can't fly with our daughter...we're planning the ultimate road next Summer to Montana and Mt. Rushmore is along the way!
Wounded Knee is on our list...
we won't be there long...
but I can't wait to hear all about your trip so we know what to make a definite must see!
Have FUN!! :)

KAREN said...

I went on this route when I was about 13. Mt Rushmore, the Badlands, Devil's Tower. Look for fields of sunflowers (do they have these in Kansas?), black, fertile soil. Are you close to Yellowstone - Old Faithful is pretty cool. Wall Drug is a neat, one-of-a-kind old fashioned drug store. It's a great trip, have a blast with your family and I can't wait to see what you do with your road trip mini!!

Cindy said...

We did the trip from INdiana to Yellowstone a few years ago. The Black Hills are awesome! I would recommend Crazy Horse, Wind Cave and Devil's Tower. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Kevin Costner has a restaurant in Deadwood, SD. I've heard its good and I think there is a casino there also. Have a blast!

Margi Mae said...

I didn't mean that to be anonymous...ooops

Tamra said...

I live in Rapid City and just read all the comments. Everyone hit the best hilights....Mt. Rushmore and taking the time to do the quick walking trail there, and closing ceremony....Custer state park is beautiful and you will see buffalo plus there are lots of beautiful hiking trails...Reptile Gardens is a personal favorite of mine because my dear friends own it and my son worked there wrestling the gators and doing snake shows....that was where he met his future wife....she trains the birds and runs the bird shows....they are getting married there September 10th in the Japanese Gardens....it is not just reptiles...it has beautiful orchids in the dome that are fabulous, and many other fun things to see. Bear Country is a fun drive through park. Deadwood is fun to walk through and Kevin Costners restaurant has alot of his outfits from movies he was in on the wall....it is casinos everywhere so don't know how that fits with the kids. When are you leaving?.....I would be happy to grab a bunch of pamphlets of sites around the area today and pop them in the mail to you....I am sad tho that your time here will be during the rally...things do get a bit more complicated during that time, and more expensive....not really an accurate take on how serene things are normally. If you want me to mail info just e-mail me....tlb6060@rap.midco.net. Hope you have a wonderful time!!

Susan said...

If you get the chance be sure to see the Devil's Tower while you are out there. It is well worth it.

Lizzy said...

I would recommend going to Mt Rushmore at nightfall. They have a beautiful movie & light up ceremony that is breathtaking. I loved the Badlands, and would highly recommend it, as well as Custer State Park and the Needles drive (the Black Hills are just lovely!!!). I would avoid Wall Drug b/c it's just a tourist trap with a whole lot of junk for sale. But if you need a break from nature or a place to get out of the heat (we did), it can provide lots of entertainment!!!

Jan L said...

We just did that trip last summer and had a blast. We loved the Bad Lands and Needles Highway. Mt. Rushmore is so impressive, especially at night, ticket can be used more than once so go during the day for the tour and back at night for the ceremony. Devils Tower was amazing, maybe you will see some climbers! You should eat at the Alpine Inn, best meal all week. They only serve steak and salad for dinner. We thought Deadwood was a waste of time, unless you like bars and casino's. Wall Drug is a tourist trap but they have great chocolate covered donuts! Have a great trip.

Jo Lee said...

Although it's been several years, we still have fond memories of going to Blue Bell Lodge which I think is near Custer. It was a beautiful area; you can ride horses, go on jeep tours and even have a chuck wagon cookout. Have a wonderful, safe trip!

Katie Skiff said...

We went in May, my brother lives there so we travel there often. You do know you need a month to see it all? lol...
The Interstate to Rapid City is full... 1880 Town is awesome, memorbila from Dances with Wolves, Mitchell has the corn palace. Make sure you stop at Wall Drug, you will see billboards for it, I think it's about 50 miles from Rapid. (free water...lol) The girls will probably like Cosmos Mystery area on the road from Rapid to Mt. Rushmore. Also Reptile Gardens, Bear Country. Keystone is at the bottom of the hill, full of fun stuff. The Pres. Wax Museum is fun, full of info, but takes awhile. There is so much over there, it's almost overwhelming once you get going. The places you mentioned are also great, one place we were not impressed with was Crazy Horse. It's expensive and not much to see compared to Rushmore (basically you can see the monument from the road, unless you want to read up on it, save your money) Have fun!! I don't know when you are going, but now until the middle of August is close to when the Sturgis rally is. Be prepared for LOTS, and I mean LOTS!!! of bikers and people and everyone jacking the prices sky high for everything. Rooms, food, etc. If you stay South of Rapid you should be ok, but they infest the whole Black Hills area. Have fun... I can't wait to see you photos and your album

Debbie Fisher (debbiedee) said...

are you taking 180 thru NE? We live 6 miles off of 180 and I would love to say "hi" if you have time.

Carol R. said...

I loved my trip to South Dakota. We stayed in a cabin in Custer State Park. If you have time and like horses, I would recommend the two hour horseback ride that they offer. We went to Crazy Horse. It isn't complete yet, but it was still cool to see. You can even bring a rock home from there. I would skip Wall Drug. It is a tourist trap and not worth going to. We only spent 1/2 hour there. Loved the Badlands but didn't get to spend much time there as we had to check into the cabin before 9 p.m. Went to Mount Rushmore during the day and then back for the evening ceremony. Definitely worth it. Take the drive around Custer State Park. You should run into buffalo on the road and some wild burroughs. The burroughs were so cute. You can get out the car to feed them. We had two stick their heads into my car and try to lick me. I ended up in my brother-in-law's lap in the driver's seat trying to get away from them. I was laughing so hard I was crying. We still talk about it and it has been about 3 years. We didn't even think about getting pics of that.

Audiene said...

If you haven't been before, you must see the Crazy Horse Monument too. We went a few years ago after we saw Mt. Rushmore and it was so worth it! Neat to see all the artifacts from all over the world and the history. The kids enjoyed it too and it didn't feel as touristy as Mt. Rushmore. Check the gates out there too. Awesome carving and art.

Heather said...

Some of my favorite places to visit in SD were: Jewel Cave, Bear Country USA, Reptile Gardens, Mount Moriah Cemetery in Dead Wood, and The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs (you visit an actual archaeological dig).

I wish we could have seen more of The Badland (we only drove along the scenic loop just off the highway) and we were supposed to drive over the border to Devil's Tower but my friends had difficulty getting up that day, so we had to cut something out of the day's itinerary. Otherwise, one of the best trips ever!

Anonymous said...

Spearfish Canyon is a beautiful drive and not far from Rapid City. If you have time, a tour of the Adams House in Deadwood is very interesting. The Adams Museum is also good, but I prefer the house if you are pressed for time. The Black Hills are so beautiful! I hope you enjoy your visit.

Jennifer K said...

Hi Mish. I see that some others have already warned you that the Sturgis motorcycle rally is going on for the next two weeks so you'll probably have a heck of a time finding a hotel room anywhere near western South Dakota. The whole area will be full of bikes but it will be fun!

One thing that I love to visit is the Cosmos Mystery Area. I'm not sure if it's a complete optical illusion (all smoke and mirrors as my DH says) or whether it's "real" but they claim there's some special magnetic force field or something that allows people to stand on walls and do crazy stunts.

Other places I like to visit in western SD are Keystone, Lead, and Deadwood.

Have a great time!

Stacy W. said...

I live in SD...wish you were coming through Sioux Falls, would love to meet you :) We go there all the time, although it's been several years now since we've been there. I read everyone's comments and would agree with them all, been there done that. I don't remember how far it is but when we went to Devil's Tower we also went to Jackson Hole. Wyoming which was a fun town if memoery serves. I know we have visited the hot springs when there too (can't remember if they are in Rapid City). Every time we go we make sure that one night we eat at Sanford's Grub & Pub. I would say it's a MUST. Very laid back, fun atmosphere. It is themed off the show Sanford & Son and is in Rapid City. We also have been to the Firehouse Brewing Co. several times. Have fun and enjoy your trip. Our state has been very hot and humid lately.

Cindy said...

Everything you said, Wall drug is on the East side of Mt. Rushmore if driving in from that direction. It's an awesome place with all kinds of 'touristy' shops. We love to have coffee and one of their homemade cinnamon rolls. (divide it between 2 people, they are big!)

Wall is 1 hour 15 minutes east of Keystone, but worth it if you want something fun to do.

Casie said...

If anyone one in the family is into old steam trains, then the 1880's Train from Custer to Hill City is a must do! We did the Rapid City trip last summer and had a blast. Hit all the usual sites that have been listed. Also drove through Spearfish Canyon and looked at some of the waterfalls. Did a quick bus tour of Deadwood which was great as we were fans of the HBO series. Be sure and get yourself a Black Hills Gold souvenir too! Check out the Roadside America website for some odd/fun things to stop and see on the way. Like the Corn Palace in Mitchel SD!! Enjoy the trip!!

South Dakota Office of Tourism said...

Wow, you've received some great feedback about your trip to South Dakota. We're glad that you'll be able to visit our great state.

Follow the suggestions of those who have left comments here, they are great. Enjoy your trip and make sure you message us @travelsd on twitter along your way!

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