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Old 10-03-2012, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
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Thinking about taking the family to Mt Rushmore next year. Will probably rent a house. Reccomendaations on area, activities etc
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:37 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Rent the whole basement of the "Main Street Manor Hostel" in Lead. SD (would work GREAT for a family). Or at least talk to the gal who runs it, City sport center 2 blks away for HUGE swimming pool, and NICE recreation center. Find out about getting bikes to spend some time on the GREAT bike trail that follows old railroad bed through Black Hills, VERY nice way to see wildlife / views w/o the ZOO TRAFFIC of Black Hills. (Hostel lady will know this... she did a bike around the world trip AFTER retirement).

Avoid the weeks around Sturgis Rally (for more sanity and less WAITING everywhere.) Go to the Hotel in Hill City for Steak (Friday and Sat).

Be SURE to take Needles Highway from Custer to Mt Rushmore.

Hatchey / History Park in Spearfish is REALLY nice (and pretty close to Devil's Tower).

Have a good time, it is a nice area. (I would PROBABLY choose May / June or early July. AUG can be hot and crowded.)
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:52 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boompa View Post
Thinking about taking the family to Mt Rushmore next year. Will probably rent a house. Reccomendaations on area, activities etc
What time of year are ya planning on going? Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills are a mad house from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I prefer to go in late September. The crowds are thin but a lot of the seasonal businesses are shut down by then.

That aside, here are some other things to do:

Custer:
Custer State Park - Camping, buffalo, drive to the top of Mt. Coolidge
Jewel Cave Nat'l. Monument (If you're planning to take a cave tour during peak tourist season, get your tickets well in advance)
Flintstones Bedrock City
Crazy Horse (I mention it, but don't recommend it. They gouge you to come in, buy crap at the gift store, and see a monument that has progressed very little the last 25 years).


Hot Springs:
Wind Cave Nat'l. Monument
The Mammoth Site
Evan's Plunge Water Park

Deadwood:
Mt. Moriah Cemetery - Burial Site of Wild Bill & Calamity Jane
Old downtown - mostly casinos

Lead:
Homestake Mine

Spearfish:
Spearfish Canyon

Wyoming: (100 mi west of Rapid)
Devils Tower National Monument

Hill City:
1880s train. Runs between Hill City & Keystone
Harney Peak

Keystone:
Tourist trap at the base of Mt. Rushmore. Lots of neat shops, a boardwalk, and a black hole for your cash.

Rapid City:
Storybook Island
Dinosaur Park
Bear Country, USA
Reptile Gardens


Wall: (60 mi. east on I-90)
Wall Drug
Badlands National Park

Misc:
Iron Mountain Road - Awesome drive through the Black Hills. Several single-lane tunnels that were designed to intentionally frame Mt. Rushmore. The road also has a handful of pigtail bridges.

Needles Highway - Breathtaking drive through some of the finest scenery in the Black Hills.

I know there's a ton of stuff I'm missing, but this will give you a good start. The Black Hills are one of my favorite vacation spots.
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Old 10-03-2012, 05:58 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
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I would highly recommend the Badlands National Park: Badlands National Park - Badlands National Park I would also second/third the recommendation for Custer State Park and the Needles Highway:
Needles Highway in Custer State Park South Dakota Part 1 - YouTube
We actually enjoyed both places better than Mt. Rushmore. If you have kids they might enjoy Bear Country U.S.A.: Bear Country USA Drive Through Wildlife Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Detroit
983 posts, read 1,428,357 times
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I live in Rapid City and think I could probably help you out. So here's a list of do's and don't's:

Do's:
Hike! I would recommend Harney Peak (it's six miles round trip, but worth it!). I would also highly recommend hiking part of the Flume trail or around Sylvan Lake. Stop by Sylvan Lake on your drive on the Needles. Iron Mt. Road and Custer State Park are a must as well as Spearfish Canyon and Vanocker (I don't remember how to spell it) Canyon. I guess I would recommend Mt. Rushmore, even though I enjoy doing other things in the hills more. The Badlands are nice, but they are a ways away. I would highly recommend Wind Cave and Hot Springs as well! In Rapid I would go to summer nights (it's a festival in downtown Rapid on Thursday nights in the summer). If you have kids Storybook Island and Dino Park are a must. If you do not, I would recommend a night in Deadwood!

The Don't's
Do not get sucked into tourist traps (especially the Cosmos, Alpine Slide, and Wall Drug)!! They are usually not as fun as just hanging out in the hills. Reptile Gardens and Bear country are the only one's that I personally enjoy. Do not visit during Rally week!!!! I would highly recommend NOT going to see Crazy Horse.

If you have any more specific questions I have lived in Rapid City the past 18 years, a.k.a., all my life, so I can probably help you out!

Hope this Helps!
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
39,534 posts, read 47,711,196 times
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We stayed in Rapid City 2 years ago for 3 days and enjoyed it very much. We went right after Labor Day and had no crowds to contend with. My wife has a handicap so we took a tour bus tour of several areas. Of course Mt Rushmore was the hightlight of the trip. The tour was an all day(10 hours) tour and we went to Crazy Horse and thoroughly enjoyed the site. Yes they are slow in the carving of the monument but we were told in advance that it was a 50 year plan and that there was no reason to hurry it up. The Welcome Center at Crazy Horse is very educational and entertaining too. It's a beautiful setup, very impressive.
During the tour we traveled through some beautiful country area around the area.
The next day we traveled around on our own.
We felt the Dinosuar Park to be a big disappointment and waste of time.
We went to the Air Museum just outside Rapid City and enjoyed our time there.
The town of Sturgis was almost empty and the Motorcycle Museum was well worth that trip.
After that we headed to Yellowstone Park which was another interesting place to see.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Cleverly concealed
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All I can recommend is avoid the area during Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week.

Amusingly, I went to Mt. Rushmore twice in the same year (1990). The first-- on a hand bell choir tour that took us through Denver, Wyoming and across South Dakota. I saw NBA player Bill Cartwright in the gift shop. At 7'1", he was hard to miss. My family vacation that year had already been planned, and on the way back it took us through Mt. Rushmore. So, I saw it again.
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Old 10-04-2012, 01:38 PM
 
Location: Great Plains
25,583 posts, read 31,831,769 times
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As a resident, I would suggest anytime from first of may to middle of July. Or after Labor Day is also a great time. The Badlands, Custer State Park, Deadwood are must stop places. Plan a day to explore the Badlands, go to Wall, and yes a stop at Wall Drug is, not a total waste of time and about the right amount of kitch.

There are some cabins that are nicely appointed west of Hill City about 5 miles. I'd suggest Hill City for a base. It is nice and central to hills and whatever days activites planned. It is also a scenic location too.
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