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Mount Rushmore vs an extra day in Yellowstone/Tetons?

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May 20th, 2012, 05:28 PM
  #1
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Mount Rushmore vs an extra day in Yellowstone/Tetons?

Opening myself to votes on the first few days of our early September trip. Mount Rushmore vs an extra day in Yellowstone/Tetons?

A little background. Kids will be 17 and 13, so this is sort of a last chance trip for the oldest to see the West before he grows up and moves on. He was 2 last time we were in Yellowstone so this is practically a first for him. My husband is the only one who has seen Mount Rushmore, soooo... is Mount Rushmore worth a whole day out of our way from Denver to Yellowstone? Part of me says YES. We have to see it once in our lives, right? And this is as close as we’re probably ever going to get to it again. But the other part of me knows we could use more time in the Yellowstone/Teton area.

Right now the plans (and reservations) are:

Fri: flight arrives in Denver 10:30 am. Drive to Custer, SD

Sat: visit Mount Rushmore and then drive to Cody, WY

Sun: visit lower loop of Yellowstone and stay in West Yellowstone (or Old Faithful area if canx opens up)

Mon: more Yellowstone, drive through Tetons, stay in Jackson

Tuesday we head on down towards Bryce, Grand Canyon, and more...
4sharie is offline  
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May 20th, 2012, 06:40 PM
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I have teens. We visited Mt. Rushmore a couple of years ago because I thought we should all see it once (spouse had already been there). We think it was worth it. BTW, my kids loved the alpine slide near Mt. Rushmore. Crazy Horse and Devil's Tower were also worthwhile stops.
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May 20th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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We found Mt. Rushmore to be surprisingly moving. We arrived late in the day and viewed the lighting ceremony which was wonderful. I highly recommend seeing it. Thought it would be hokey and tacky but it wasn't. A highlight of our trip.
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May 20th, 2012, 06:59 PM
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I vote no.

As is, you have 1.5 days in Yellowstone, followed by a 1/2 day drive thru of Tetons. That is so incredibly rushed that an extra day would really help.

I can understand the desire to try to see everything because you feel like this is the last chance to do a trip like this before your oldest grows up and moves on...but Mt. Rushmore isn't going anywhere. You can see it some other time when you can devote more time to that whole area, because the Black Hills deserve far more than a one day drive by to see Mt. Rushmore. Maybe you won't do see it with your kids but you can't do everything with them, there just isn't enough time.

I think you'll get more out of this part of your trip if you give yourself an extra day and allow yourself to slow down just a bit and see more of Yellowstone/Tetons, rather than rush from spot to spot on a strict time schedule.
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May 20th, 2012, 07:38 PM
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It really depends on what you enjoy. Do you enjoy being in the car and spending time together - because that drive across Wyoming is a long one.

There is also Needles Scenic drive on the way up to Mt Rushmore from Denver. And most likely, Mt Rushmore will always be there - but I thought the same thing about the twin towers. Ok, not exactly the same, but something I never got to see. So if you never got to see Mt Rushmore, would it burn you?
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May 20th, 2012, 08:31 PM
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You all are representing well my angst! It probably would torment me more than anyone in the family if we didn't see it, just because I want EVERYTHING to be perfect in life and find it impossible to choose between things sometimes. And also, I'm the photographer in the family and would love to photograph it and document "Look where we are!" kind of thing. Lame reasons, I know, but those are just on top of... it'd be awesome to experience!

We're cool with looong road trips, and driving 8 hours from Denver to Cody is a little more appealing than driving 6 hours from Denver to Mt Rushmore one day and then 7 hours from Mt Rushmore to Cody the next.

You've all given me some more food for thought.
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May 20th, 2012, 09:18 PM
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For me it's a question of quantity vs quality.

No idea what the rest of your trip looks like, but just the fact that you're allocating a total of 2 days to Yellowstone/Tetons tells me you are rushing to see as much as possible. Just consider that the more you try to see, the less you get out of it other than checking it off a list.

Try to imagine being in Yellowstone and passing up a particular geyser eruption because you have to be somewhere at 2 pm to stay on schedule. Or getting slowed down by an 'animal jam' and instead of enjoying the moment and seeing wildlife up close, you get frustrated because you are going to be late and thrown off schedule for something else. Give yourself an extra day for one of the greatest parks we have.

I've been to Mt. Rushmore twice - it looks just like the pictures, no matter how many times you see it. I was far more interested in the various exhibits and the history than gazing at 4 faces carved in rock. It just doesn't have the wow factor for me of natural beauty in a national park.

So much to see in the Black Hills, just plan another trip there with your husband.
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May 21st, 2012, 04:57 AM
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I vote no. Unless you can devote some more days there to do Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Custer State Park, Badlands, Crazy Horse. You really need 3-5 days there. And 2 days in Yellowstone is really not near enough time in the first place.
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May 21st, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Most people spend an average of 4 hours at a National Park. At 90% of them, I almost always spend several days. Many of them I have been to multiple times. Yes, you can see the Grand Canyon by peering over the edge. Or you can experience it by hiking down into it or rafting it.

At Yellowstone, I would spend an entire day around OF geyser basin, a day around Canyon and Tower area, and another day Lamar and Hayden Valley. This would be bare minimum. Better yet, would be get in a few hikes along the way. Surely, being this close to Tetons, a person would want to spend some time there too.

I love Utah(sounds like you are going there too). I have been there severaly times over the past 5 years. You could easily spend 2-3 weeks just in it. Little places like Goblin Valley, Dead Horse Point, Calf Creek Falls are all really amazing places to visit.
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May 21st, 2012, 08:04 AM
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Let me preface my response by saying that I pack way too much into trips. I never post my itineraries on this site, because I know everyone will say I am moving around too much. In other words, I know exactly where you are coming from in wanting to see everything.

I loved seeing Mt. Rushmore. However, you do not have enough time to really see Yellowstone. It is a huge park. My children really enjoyed going out in the early mornings and evenings to spot wildlife. The hike along Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is fantastic. Sitting with binoculars at Hayden Valley in the evening to look at wildlife is wonderful. With only a day and a half, you will just be driving to key spots, taking a quick look and heading on to the next viewpoint. You will get an idea of Yellowstone, but you will miss so much.
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May 21st, 2012, 08:22 AM
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I always think of it like this.

Is it better to go to Florida and Ride 3 rides at Disneyworld and 3 Rides at Universal Studios? Or is it better to see and ride all 20 rides at just one of them, plus save time and money?
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May 21st, 2012, 08:59 AM
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I know, right?! 17 years ago when I was 3 months pregnant with our first kiddo my husband wanted to take me to England/Scotland. He wanted me to see everything that he saw and loved while he was stationed there years before. We drove and drove and drove. Pulled into cities at night and pulled out in the morning. We did tour castles and see things and walked our feet off in London, but man, was that a whirlwind trip! And thus began our way of vacationing. We did tone it down a bit when the kids were little and would stay a little longer in each place. Then last year I insisted I wanted to go to the beach and just sit and go NO WHERE. So nice.

So thank you all for helping cross Mt Rushmore off our list on this trip. I've already modified our reservations to arrive in Cody the first night and added an extra night in West Yellowstone. My husband was so excited as I explained all this to him last night. It's hardddd not to go to Mt Rushmore but we know it's best to leave it for another time.

Now... to consider crossing off Mesa Verde to give more time in Bryce. SIGH.
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May 21st, 2012, 09:51 AM
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You can see a lot at Mesa Verde in a full day and a lot in Bryce in a full day. At Mesa Verde to get a good idea of it, just see as many of the ruins/houses you can in a day. To see Wetherill section would reguire and additional day. In Bryce, I would for sure hike Navajo Loop/Queens Garden combo hike. If you don't do that then consider taking a horse ride down into it. Catching and sunrise or sunset is great at Bryce. Of course, there is Peekaboo Loop, Fairy Loop, and more that would require more than a single day visit.
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May 21st, 2012, 12:59 PM
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You may want to start a new topic and post what you have planned for your itinerary, then ask for suggestions. Bryce can be done in one day, but I would suggest accomplishing that by visiting for an afternoon, stay for sunset then come back for sunrise and part of the next morning, rather than one full day starting morning and leaving after dark.
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May 21st, 2012, 04:43 PM
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If your time is limited in the parks, you can save a good bit of time by staying in the parks. If places appear to be full, keep checking back. There are usually cancellations.
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May 21st, 2012, 06:20 PM
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I'm sorry to say that if you skip Mt. Rushmore, you will still not have enough time to see Yellowstone and properly enjoy the Tetons.

Try to spend a night in Teton NP. Signal Mountain is my choice.

HTTY
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May 21st, 2012, 09:02 PM
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WhereWeAre... not sure I have the nerve to post the whole itinerary yet. Even with our changes today (nixed Mt Rushmore and Mesa Verde) it's still a very busy trip, but we're starting to get a much better feel about it now. It's almost a complete repeat of a trip we took 15 yrs ago, but in reverse (and now with 2 teens!). But I will... sometime soonish.

happytrails, I called Signal Mtn and checked their availability. Thanks for the mention!

Digbydog, appreciated your input (and preface!).
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May 22nd, 2012, 06:25 AM
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Thanks for the report. Signal Mountain has a great location on Jackson Lake and a family-friendly restaurant with sensible prices.

HTTY
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