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Planning on getting on the road with H and K and their dad and heading to South Dakota this summer. Flying to Sioux Falls or Rapid City, renting a car and seeing anything and everything around Rapid City; national parks, MtRushmore, Crazy Horse etc.†
Been reading and researching quite a bit but would love to hear from anyone who has been there.

Moderator Comment: This thread is mirrored to these forums: TRAVEL DISCUSSION, OFF TOPIC. — May. 23, 2017 @ 12:20pm
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Visit kkh, that's his territory and you can have a whole H and K thing.

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  • At Rushmore, do the little trail thing at the base, it's short and gives you a different perspective. I've heard the laser show is dated, never seen it.
  • Needles Highway an awesome drive, not for those who get carsick.
  • One wacky things my kids really grooved on was Ft. Hays chuckwagon. 99 cents for ayce pancakes. You can get all the other usual stuff, but the prices are reasonable for those. At night they do shows, never done them, just the breakfast. They have an old west town with shops, craftsmen, demonstrations, etc. Very touristy, but like I say, the kids talked about it maybe the most after vaca.
  • Reptile Gardens is good for the price (Bird Show stupid; snake and gator show good, all included).
  • Harney Peak is a rewarding and scenic hike (3.5 miles, I think?)

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Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

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scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

† No. †And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills. †I really should go. †Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much. †When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished." †

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store. †

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Just watch out for little white cars with darkly tinted windows, and groups of squad cars following you around. You have no idea, they're everywhere, and they're watching you!

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Kandykornhead said:   scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

† No. †And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills. †I really should go. †Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much. †When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished." †

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store. †


As a teenager, I wasn't impressed. Then again I wasn't impressed with mt. Rushmore. Cool but so much further away than all the pictures would suggest.

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scrouds said:   
Kandykornhead said:   
scrouds said:   Did they ever finish the crazy horse memorial?

Visit Wall drugs. You'll see the signs.

† No. †And, I've never been the zillions of times I've been to the Rapid area/Black Hills. †I really should go. †Here's the consensus from the many I've spoken to about it: "It's something, you should see it once. Admission is too much. †When you see the progress you leave with the impression that it will never be finished." †

Wall Drug is a like a super duper giant truck stop/dollar store. †


As a teenager, I wasn't impressed. Then again I wasn't impressed with mt. Rushmore. Cool but so much further away than all the pictures would suggest.

† And it's not even finished.

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We stayed for a week last summer and these are a few places we enjoyed:

Gaslight Grill - It's in Rockerville just outside of Rapid City, the highway goes around the town but it's super easy to find. The food is really good!

Prairie Berry Winery - I know you're taking kids and not sure if you're into wine, but we sampled a ton of things (wine, jam, different relishes) and ate lunch. Super expensive lunch but the wine is great. My little loved the pretzels they had for sampling and we were able to play bags while we waited for lunch.

Harney Peak - this is an amazing hike, but it's a hike. I was prepared for a hike but depending on the ages of your kids you may not want to go. We carried our little in a Tula (baby carrier) so it made it a little harder than normal, gorgeous views when you make it to the top! If hiking isn't your thing, Sylvan lake is really pretty which is where you start the hike up to Harney Peak.

Reptile Gardens - I second this one! It was a ton of fun and we loved being able to see the turtles up close! It's not every day you can pet a turtle larger than your child. If you stop at a gas station before you go you can generally find a discount in one of those local attraction booklets.

Storybook Gardens - Depending on the age of your kids, I would say ages 0-5 this was a blast. It's free and it gave my little time to run around and play. It's just a giant park with characters from childhood stories, but it's free and when you've been cooped up in the car after a long drive it's a nice place to stretch your legs.

Wind Cave National Park - This was really neat, but probably not for everyone. It was neat to hear/see the history of the caves and it was fun walking around. It is super cold though so bring a light jacket. Also I'm not sure if they changed it but they didn't list the times that tours were available on the website so luckily we arrived 15 minutes before one started, but just to be sure you might want to call. There's a nice picnic area a few miles before the caves so we packed a picnic and ate before we went, it's kind of a long drive to get there but you get to see a ton of Custer if you're coming from Rapid City.

If you visit Mt. Rushmore and plan on going back (we went once to see the lights and once during the day) hang onto your parking pass/ticket. You can get back in for free if you have it. Same goes if you enter Custer, hang onto your pass because it's good for a decent amount of time.

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Deadwood is a lot of fun, especially if you've watched the HBO series.

I went to Mt. Rushmore on the 4th of July, and they had an orchestra playing at the base of the mountain. It was great (a program heavy on patriotic songs, obviously). I'm glad I went when they had an event, otherwise I may have been a touch disappointed.

I was shocked at how cool the Badlands were. Way more beautiful than I expected, and I spent an entire day hiking the area. I should have allotted more time, it was the highlight of the trip for me.

If you cross the border into Wyoming, you can easily visit Devil's Tower, most famous for 'Close Encounters'.

The Minuteman Missile site was an interesting look back at the Cold War; kids might find it cool or boring, not really sure.

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If you need to rent a call just use Hertz. Use code HERTZ10 and you will get 10% off your rate.

I use it all the time on my biz trips.

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We were disappointed with Rushmore as like one poster said, you cant get close enough to appreciate the enormity of it. Even on the tram. Wall Drug is a blast and we always stop there if passing thru and of course the badlands. I would not waste time with Crazy Horse.... Not finished and wont be in my lifetime if ever.

What we did like was going to Devils Tower in Wyoming and walking around it. That and the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody Wyoming. The Cody Firearms Museum there is something to see if you like all sorts of guns.

Be careful what time you go to Rapid City area. They have the Sturgis motorcycle rally in August and you wont get a room for 100 miles around if they are there. Look it up to find out when it is and if you are not a biker, then stay clear, wayyyy clear.

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We enjoyed the heck out of the Badlands, including a helicopter ride. Deadwood was a fun night for food and some light gambling.

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Thanks for all the posts so far. Changed some of our planned visits already based on the kind folks tips here.
(My kids are 16 and 12 and planning on going in the beginning of July)

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anticlawson said:   
If you visit Mt. Rushmore and plan on going back (we went once to see the lights and once during the day) hang onto your parking pass/ticket. You can get back in for free if you have it. Same goes if you enter Custer, hang onto your pass because it's good for a decent amount of time.

††
Was going to say the same. We drove cross country in summer 2015 and basically had one day for Mt. Rushmore. We got to the area the night before but didn't want to go that night and then again the next day. I should have, and could have as the parking pass we got was good for 6 months (end of the year).

About Crazy Horse, it will never be finished and it's basically a money grabber at this point. They have bulldozer on the top just for looks.

Sturgis bike rally happens during the first week in August and area gets pretty busy.

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infoweeklyhotels said:   Driving thousands of miles with family sounded like a good idea at first. All that family togetherness was bound to be a good thing. First, you need a map. Iím not talking about the screen on your iPhone. I mean a good old-fashioned map, the kind you spread out across a table. Pick the good https://www.weeklyhotels.com/†if you need require then. Organize your whole trips, Using the TripIt app I was able to keep our confirmation numbers, addresses and plans together in one place. The app also let me share our plans with family back home. pack it up & plan for car ride. In one of the most demonstrative examples Crazy Horse Memorial, it's good!
† "Driving thousands of miles with family sounded like a good idea at first." Right, then you found out that your brother in law never went anywhere without a couple of cases of Spam.
Since you knew from childhood that Spam gave your sister bad--as in very bad--gas, you thought you would travel in separate cars.When that did not happen, you are compelled to Spam
innocent places like Fatty Wallet. Shame on you.

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i have never visited but love to go!

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We live on the east coast and did a similar trip six years ago with my two kids (twins who had just finished 8th grade) and my nephew, who had just finished 9th, and my Dad (80+). We flew to Sioux Falls, spent a night with family on one of the lakes north of the city, drove to Pierre for a family reunion that was held north of the city on the dam (that was the year the river was flooding and my cousin, who had planned to host the reunion at her home on the river in Pierre, had to come up with a plan B. Lots of sandbags ALL over town!). We spent two nights in Pierre, then went to Rapid City for a few nights to stay with relatives there.

Highlights of the trip for the kids: Wall Drug (yep, major tourist trap, but it's a GREAT place to stop and take a break, and the sort of place that older kids can kick around on their own if they need a bit of space after the car ride). The Badlands -- absolutely DO NOT MISS this. Period. Gorgeous. Needles Highway (if you have anyone in your family who tends toward scary or inattentive driver, best to make sure they're in the passenger seat for this one).

I liked Eastern SD because some of my favorite family live there, but if I didn't know people there, I wouldn't plan to spend much time there on vacation, unless you have a complete Laura Ingalls Wilder nut in your family, in which case you might want to hit Desmet. They do a Laura Ingalls Wilder "pageant" (aka performance) on weekend evenings at 8PM in July. I can't vouch for it, as I've never attended. I did appreciate watching the countryside change as we drove west toward Pierre, and then again from Pierre to the Black Hills. We went to the Badlands on the way from Pierre to a relative's house in Custer, and trust me when I say that you don't want to flirt with being out of gas in that area. The GPS insisted that we were fine, there was a gas station a couple of mile ahead, but if so, it had closed down about 50 years ago. Ghost town, complete with steer skulls over a few of the doors.

If you have beef-lovers in your family, there's a German restaurant in Hill City called the Alpine Inn which serves 6 oz filet mignon or 9 oz filet mignon for dinner for reasonable prices (like $10 and $13 or so). Take your pick. Virtually nothing else. It's popular, so there will likely be a group (of friendly people, at least) waiting on the porch. They only take reservations for large groups.

More if I remember it.

We were going to go to Crazy Horse on our way out of town, incidentally (heading to Colorado to fly home from Denver), but my son was sick the AM that we left Custer, so we skipped it. We did go to Mt. Rushmore, and though I wouldn't call it a highlight akin to the Badlands and other sites, I -- and the kids -- were glad that they had gone.† Oh -- and as another poster suggested, we did hike Harney Peak, which is a reasonably easy hike, though our lenses are colored by the fact that we live in the White Mts., where most of the hiking is actually fairly strenuous by comparison.† Harney Peak might not be an easy hike for people who don't normally hike as often as we do.†

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