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Old 07-08-2019, 01:29 PM   #1
manwiches
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Default Mt Rushmore / Rapid City Road Trip Advice

Hi everybody. I'm looking to procure some knowledge of the area. My wife, son and I are considering a 6 day trip (Leaving Aug 4, returning Aug 9) from Regina to Rapid City, to see Mt Rushmore.

I see it's about a 8.5 hour drive, so I imagine stopping midway in Williston both ways.

Can anybody give me some insight into the sights and attractions in the area, including the obvious? Also any good places to eat? This is what I've put together so far, for things to do, and their approximate duration.

Keep in mind, we have a 5 year old son who's a bit of an old soul (loves museums and reading things, doesn't run around and get bored too easily with adult things). My wife and I also like museums and reading about history and exploring too. We do enjoy a light hike if necessary.

- Mt Rushmore - 1/2 day to 3/4 of day - for obvious reasons. My wife will like the history, I'll like how they built it.
- Mammoth Site of Hot Springs - 1/2 to 3/4 of day - intriguing given the history. Not sure of the content though?
- Journey Museum and Learning Center - 1/2 day - looks like a standard kids museum?
- Watiki Indoor Waterpark - 1/2 day (or we might stay at the adjoining hotel, so everyday...)
- Dinosaur Park - 1/2 day - this looks kind of lame, but my 5 year old might like it... he does love the Tyrell
- Art Alley - My wife and I love random things like this, so this will just be while exploring the Rapid City
- Storybook Island - 1/4 day - this looks pretty lame too, but again, my 5 year old might enjoy.

Any insight at all would be appreciated.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:05 PM   #2
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Check out Badlands National Park and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Both are east of Rapid City on I90, close to Wall, SD. I mention Wall, because you will see a billboard every mile on I90 telling you how close you are to Wall Drug. It's a large mercantile and rather insignificant in my opinion, but they did have great doughnuts in the drug store.

If you find aviation interesting, check out the SD Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth AFB.

After you check out Rushmore, continue along Hwy16/16A/385. It's a scenic drive and there are good odds of spotting the bison herd.

If you are a fan of the Deadwood TV series, check out Deadwood the town. Not far from Deadwood is Lead, which was home to the largest gold mine in the USA. There is a large open pit right in the town. The Sugar Shack in Deadwood has decent burgers.

Lintz Bros Pizza in Hermosa.

Delmonicos for steak.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
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Custer State Park just south of Rapid City is pretty good. Good chance of seeing wildlife (Buffalo and donkeys, mostly, as I recall).

There are several drives to do in that area (the Needles Highway, I believe).

Don't overlook Wind Cave and Jewel Cave either--one is a National Park and another is a National Monument.

Might be worth a detour to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming too.

The Crazy Horse memorial is totally not worth a visit.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:55 PM   #4
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Minot ND is a little out of the way, but quite a bit bigger than Williston.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manwiches View Post
Hi everybody. I'm looking to procure some knowledge of the area. My wife, son and I are considering a 6 day trip (Leaving Aug 4, returning Aug 9) from Regina to Rapid City, to see Mt Rushmore.

I see it's about a 8.5 hour drive, so I imagine stopping midway in Williston both ways.

Can anybody give me some insight into the sights and attractions in the area, including the obvious? Also any good places to eat? This is what I've put together so far, for things to do, and their approximate duration.

Keep in mind, we have a 5 year old son who's a bit of an old soul (loves museums and reading things, doesn't run around and get bored too easily with adult things). My wife and I also like museums and reading about history and exploring too. We do enjoy a light hike if necessary.

- Mt Rushmore - 1/2 day to 3/4 of day - for obvious reasons. My wife will like the history, I'll like how they built it.
- Mammoth Site of Hot Springs - 1/2 to 3/4 of day - intriguing given the history. Not sure of the content though?
- Journey Museum and Learning Center - 1/2 day - looks like a standard kids museum?
- Watiki Indoor Waterpark - 1/2 day (or we might stay at the adjoining hotel, so everyday...)
- Dinosaur Park - 1/2 day - this looks kind of lame, but my 5 year old might like it... he does love the Tyrell
- Art Alley - My wife and I love random things like this, so this will just be while exploring the Rapid City
- Storybook Island - 1/4 day - this looks pretty lame too, but again, my 5 year old might enjoy.

Any insight at all would be appreciated.
We did this exact trip two years ago. We went south from Regina to, I want to say Bismark, ND? I can't recall for sure. We definitely stayed overnight in Rapid City as well. Your schedule seems right to me although I don't see Crazy Horse in there and that's a must. We stayed 3 days in a cabin at the Mt. Rushmore KOA. It was central to everything. The kids had a blast. Horseback riding, rodeo, panning for gold, etc. We went to the Dinosaur Park and I'm sure your son will love it. Check out Reptile Gardens as well. It's in the same area. We did half a day at Watiki Indoor Park and you'll enjoy that.

The main day was Mt. Rushmore and it is worth it. It takes a few hours for sure. I'd recommend walking the trail around it to get a closer look. Take lots of photos. It was one of our best family trips to date. Enjoy!
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:27 PM   #6
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The Crazy Horse memorial is totally not worth a visit.
To each his own, I guess. We loved it. The sheer scale of this project is mindblowing. I think you can fit 10 Mt. Rushmores just in the head of Crazy Horse. $10.00 for everyone in the car to visit and it's very close to Mt. Rushmore. I'm glad we went.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:38 PM   #7
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I was fortunate enough to have been out there for only a couple days last summer. I really want to go back and see so many of the other things in the area. Custer State park was awesome to drive through. The needle highway and especially the Iron Mountain Road (highway 16A) are absolutely gorgeous and have some incredible views and turns.

I found Mt Rushmore to be way cooler than I expected.

Deadwood is a neat place but I unfortunately didn’t get to spend too much time there.

Downtown Rapid City has the walk of Presidents, a bunch of statues of former presidents on different street corners.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:55 PM   #8
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I went on a family trip to the area as a kid maybe 20 years ago. The two places that stick out in my mind are Deadwood and Devil's Tower.

Deadwood is just a neat old wild west town with lots of history. It's got an old graveyard with the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane. I remember panning for gold somewhere in Deadwood too.

I saw Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Devil's Tower and thought Devil's Tower was definitely the neatest big rock monument of the three.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:31 PM   #9
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Beautiful area but delay your trip a few weeks. August 2nd to 11th is the black hills rally in Sturgis and there will be hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists around Rapid City.

If you dont have a hotel yet you will probably be SOL finding one.

If you're gonna go, deadwood is a great stop, you can see where buffalo bill was shot, and where Jesse James was caught. Needles highway is a must for travelling, as is the crazy horse monument and devils tower in Wyoming.

Rapid City doesn't get anywhere near as crazy as Sturgis does but the black hills during bike week isnt somewhere I'd bring a 5 year old.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:39 PM   #10
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If you are camping their is a tiny lake in the middle of Custer state park that has an awesome camp ground. Forget the name. If you like hiking you can do an 8k hike to Harvey peak the highest point in South Dakota.

Jewel and Wind cave are really cool

Wall Drug is the greatest junk store ever and worth a visit if you also want to hit the minute man site and Badlands national park. The 3 make a worthwhile day.

All of the towns have pretty neat main streets.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:09 PM   #11
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We enjoyed reptile gardens in rapid with our kids. Decent place to spend some time.
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Old 07-08-2019, 10:34 PM   #12
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Great thread. Have never visited Rushmore but have been thinking about it. Sounds like you’ll have a blast.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:43 AM   #13
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Your dates are in the middle of Sturgis, it will be insane down there at that time and if you haven't booked a hotel or campsite youre probably SOL.

Push it a week or go the week before. i took my kids there a week before Sturgis and it was great, check out all the tourist traps, Rushmore is under whelming and Crazy horse is worth the trip, really nice museum at the monument.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:57 AM   #14
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Don’t go 3-4 days before or after Sturgis. Everything booked and too busy. The dinosaur park thing wasn’t much and we were disappointed with that. Our kids loved storeybook island though. It was probably highlight of trip for them. There is also a very good reptile zoo, with alligator show, snakes, lizards etc. our kids really liked that. If you’re interested in American History a nice little stop is Independence Hall. Doesn’t take long maybe an hour or so, but we had a good time there.

If your budget allows a helicopter tour of both Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore is really cool. (They can’t get as close to Rushmore due to Park rules) but still neat.)
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:27 AM   #15
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Wow, thanks for all the response guys. I'll definitely bring this to the boss (Wife) and discuss.

The only thing that concerns me is the Sturgis thing.. our dates are very firm, so we don't have a choice. Is it that big of a deal? I did look at hotels in the area, and we could get them for 200 a night, which isn't great, but isn't outrageous either
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:03 AM   #16
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To each his own, I guess. We loved it. The sheer scale of this project is mindblowing. I think you can fit 10 Mt. Rushmores just in the head of Crazy Horse. $10.00 for everyone in the car to visit and it's very close to Mt. Rushmore. I'm glad we went.
At least they have the head done now! I went there about 30 years ago as a kid, and it was the mountain with a hole in it, and that was it. At this pace, I don't think it will be completed in my lifetime, but it would be cool if they managed to get it done!
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Old 07-09-2019, 11:30 AM   #17
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We were in SD during the 75th Sturgis anniversary. (Opposite side of state) we booked through Expedia and we got to room and they had been triple or quadrouple booked by the online travel places. We had to go almost into North Dakota before we found a place. Granted this was the 75th anniversary which was a special kind of stupid. Anyways if you can get a room I would probably call the hotel directly after booking to make sure you are confirmed etc.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:57 PM   #18
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Wow, thanks for all the response guys. I'll definitely bring this to the boss (Wife) and discuss.

The only thing that concerns me is the Sturgis thing.. our dates are very firm, so we don't have a choice. Is it that big of a deal? I did look at hotels in the area, and we could get them for 200 a night, which isn't great, but isn't outrageous either
Sturgis pulls in 600 000 to 1 mil people any given year. This year is the 79th so it probably wont be as busy as next year. You will have to expect driving to be very very slow with all of the bikes on the road. Bars and restaurants are usually very full, Rapid City doesn't get rowdy like Sturgis but you may still see things like topless old biker women.

It will also be loud all the time. Even at night. The interstate will have harleys riding it 24/7.
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:13 PM   #19
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Sturgis pulls in 600 000 to 1 mil people any given year. This year is the 79th so it probably wont be as busy as next year. You will have to expect driving to be very very slow with all of the bikes on the road. Bars and restaurants are usually very full, Rapid City doesn't get rowdy like Sturgis but you may still see things like topless old biker women.

It will also be loud all the time. Even at night. The interstate will have harleys riding it 24/7.
Found a hotel at La Quinta Inn by Wyndham, which is attached to the Watiki Water park for $257 / night. Is that area a gong show, or safe from the mess?

Just seems so damned expensive to go down there for what likely will be almost 2000 for the 3 of us to go down, all in. Could find a cheap flight to Vancouver w hotel for that. Would hotels be cheaper any other time of the year?
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Old 07-09-2019, 01:17 PM   #20
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Found a hotel at La Quinta Inn by Wyndham, which is attached to the Watiki Water park for $257 / night. Is that area a gong show, or safe from the mess?

Just seems so damned expensive to go down there for what likely will be almost 2000 for the 3 of us to go down, all in. Could find a cheap flight to Vancouver w hotel for that. Would hotels be cheaper any other time of the year?
Anytime that isn't Sturgis would be significantly cheaper.
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