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2 weeks from western IL through Nebraska to Mt Rushmore


Jan 17th, 2012, 08:19 AM
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2 weeks from western IL through Nebraska to Mt Rushmore

I'm planning a 2 week vacation (2 adults) starting in northwestern IL through Iowa and following the Nebraska Scenic By-Ways in Northern Nebraska, shooting up to see Mt Rushmore, and then continuing down the western edge of Nebraska to return by the southern Scenic By-Ways. Any suggestions on attractions or lodging? We won't be stopping for siteseeing in Iowa since we've seen most of Iowa already. Our only interest is Northern and Southern Nebraska and the Mt Rushmore area. I would especially appreciate a suggestion on where to stay near Mt Rushmore. We are planning on allowing time to stop and enjoy sites along the by-ways, so intend to cover 400 or less miles per day. Any and all suggestions are welcome!
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Jan 17th, 2012, 10:06 AM
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Once we were heading from Missouri for the Black Hills. We remembered lovely Sylvan Lake from an earlier camping trip. But in stopping off at Ft. Robinson St Pk in NW Nebr. we enjoyed history, night tour, swimming, jeep ride into the prairie. Also a trip over to nearby Chadron St Pk for a re-enactment. So hit is one place I'd recommend. By the way, Sylvan Lake was shut down for restoration. But there is indeed much in the Black Hills to enjoy.

Bill in Boston (once Illinois also)
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Jan 17th, 2012, 02:43 PM
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I concur with Bill's recommendation of Fort Robinson State Park--we have been multiple times (most recently in 2007) and always enjoy it.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 07:03 PM
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We drove by Mt. Rushmore last summer on our Yellowstone trip. (Do consider driving a bit farther to experience that fascinating place if you haven't already.) Mt. Rushmore didn't seem that spectacular after that, but certainly worth seeing.
We stopped at Hill City in South Dakota on the way back. Cute town, nice dinner at Buffalo Humps. And of course check out Wall Drug. It is worth a side trip.
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Jan 17th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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Custer State Park has some great scenic drives and is close to Rushmore. On the east side of Rapid City - close to Wall Drug, is Badlands NP. Fascinating place to look around.
Rapid City has all kinds of touristy stuff- Bear Country, Reptile Gardens, caves, Crazy Horse monument is there somewhere. You can take a side trip up to Deadwood too.
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Jan 19th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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Hi MEWS2060! We're delighted to have you traveling through Nebraska, especially along the scenic byways. I have quite a few recommendations. If you have time head west, visit Ponca State Parkwhich offers gorgeous river views and dense woodlands. You'll also be traveling near the Niobrara, one of Nebraska's most popular rivers for water sports. Near Valentine, you can visit Smith Falls State Park to see Nebraska's highest waterfall. Valentine also has several highly recommended steakhouses, including Cedar Canyon Steakhouse, Jordan's Fine Dining, and Peppermill. Unique accommodations in the area include the Heartland Elk Guest Ranch.

Near Crawford in the Panhandle, I highly recommend Toadstool Geologic Park (near the previously mentioned Ft. Robinson State Historical Park). It looks like you've suddenly been transported to the moon!

On the way back, are you traveling on the Byway that runs through North Platte and Kearney? If you’re coming via Scottsbluff, I recommend a stop to see Chimney Rock, which was a popular landmark for Oregon Trail travelers headed west. If you’re traveling south along the byway and pass through Potter, Neb., stop for lunch at the Potter Sundry. It’s an old-fashioned soda fountain that claims to be the home of the original tin roof sundae. Another tourist favorite is the Petrified Wood Gallary in Ogallala, a museum for art and other objects made out of petrified wood. In Paxton, I’d recommend Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse, a unique family eatery with hunting trophies from around the world.

Kearney is my hometown… so I highly recommend Thunderhead, an award winning local microbrewery and pizzeria. There’s also the new Classic Car Collection and the Platte River Road Archway, two sites for car lovers and history buffs.

And if you make it to Lincoln, you must stop at the state capitol. It was designed in the 1920s and is full of deco touches and unique imagery.

Please let me know if you need any more information! You can find accommodations, attractions and events at http://www.visitnebraska.gov (and order a print or online copy of the 2012 travel guide). You can also follow Nebraska Tourism on Facebook and Twitter for more ideas. We have quite a bit of information on the Byways, as well, including some podcasts and videos.
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