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Black Hills - best one day route & where to stay?

Black Hills - best one day route & where to stay?

Old Apr 21st, 2014, 08:15 PM
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Black Hills - best one day route & where to stay?

Coming from the east from MN, we're overnighting in the Badlands before heading to Mt Rushmore area. We plan to have lunch in Rapid City then head straight to Mt Rushmore, then spend the night in the area. The next day we'd like to drive the various highways (Needles, Wildlife Loop, Iron Mountain) before heading toward Nebraska in late afternoon.

Is there a suggestion of the order of the routes to maximize our time & increase chances of seeing wildlife? We'll be getting as early a start as possible with a 5 & 8 year old, and plan to stop & hike occasionally but not for long distances (likely 1 mile max).

Second, is it better to stay in Custer, Keystone or somewhere else? Especially wonder this question in light of hitting the road early. We won't be experiencing nightlife or hotel pool - just need a place to stay that's clean and won't be too noisy. We considered staying in the park, but with my youngest trying to stay dry at night, we've decided it would not be fun to stay in a cabin without a bathroom.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2014, 11:06 AM
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ttt - anyone living or traveling in South Dakota recently?
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 11:39 AM
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Hi, I have a 6 & 9 year old and are doing this itinerary in June.


Mt. Rushmore, Museum, Presidential Trail

• Aerial Adventure Park and Zip Line
• Red Garter Saloon
• National Presidential Wax Museum
• Keystone – touristy stores and the historic piece a few blocks tucked away behind the main drag,
• Big Thunder Gold Mine

Scenic Iron Mtn Rd 16A

Peter Norbeck Visitor Center

Mount Coolidge Lookout and Fire Tower


Needles Highway – 14 miles (45-60 mins) start at Badger Hole and go north on 87

Sylvan Lake

Hill City
• The Farmer’s Daughter antiques
• Black Hills Institute Museum
• Prairie Berry Winery (good food)
• Teddy Bear Town

Custer (the city)
• Black Hills Burger & Bun - 6 star burger
• Baker's Bakery and Café (breakfast) (pie)
• Four Mile Old West Town


Custer State Park

• Wildlife Loop Road
• Blue Bell Lodge Chuckwagon
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 06:09 PM
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As long as you don't plan to stay at Mt. Rushmore until after dark, I would recommend driving to Custer to spend the night so that you are close to Custer State Park for the next morning. If you plan to stay at Mt. Rushmore for the evening program, I would stay in Keystone as you won't want to do a long drive in that area after dark.

The next day, get an early start and drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park first. The animals are more active and closer to the road in the early part of the day. Once it starts getting warm, the animals will move to the shade of the trees away from the road and you won't see much of anything besides prairie dogs.

A good 1-mile hike for kids is the loop around Sylvan Lake. It's an easy walk and there are some rocks near the trail that are fun for kids (and adults) to scramble around.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 01:58 AM
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Thanks so much for the responses! We had decided to stay in Custer because of hotel points - but great advice about heading to the hotel before dark. We were debating whether to stay, but that seals the deal and will make the next morning more pleasant.
Good advice too on dining options.
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Old May 30th, 2014, 05:39 AM
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Custer was great location for a lot of venues. If you want a trip to the past stay at the Rocket Motel....50's retro. Very clean, comfortable and down town. Tripadvisor rated it 4 1/2 and we agreed!!!
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