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Old 06-04-2012, 01:26 AM   #11
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OK have to chime in here. Been to Mt. Rushmore 8 times. Yep I love it and it never gets old, took me 3 times just to figure out where the "museum" was. Also there is a walking trail around and you go closer below the faces. If you go On that I would suggest you go to the left first as there is a lot of steps and it is a easier trek. Custer park and needles highway is beautiful. I disagree with BEAR COUNTRY, thought it was SUPER expensive and not a lot to see. there is a big area to pay so if the price is too high turn around and leave. REPTILE GARDENS, we enjoyed but kind of spendy. The COSMOS is cool. a shorter person can stand by a taller person and actually look taller. Not sure how it is done but it is crazy. balls roll up hill, you can sit on a chair on a wall. They admit the house is built crooked but they will use a level (and you can take yours) to show you that things are level. You may even feel a litte odd there, my husband said he felt sick. My kids loved it. Don't let them rush you, take as much time as you need to take photos. 1880's TRAIN was nice but a bit slow for my kids. Badlands, a yes for us. Been through it 5 times. SPEARFISH CANYON is beautiful. There are some small waterfalls and is really beautiful. DEVILS TOWER, worth the trip, a relaxing day. you can go through spearfish canyon on the way home or to devils tower from rapid city. WATIKI WATER PARK is a indoor water park hooked to a couple hotels. You can just go for the day you don't have to stay at the hotels. My kids love it. By Deadwood there was a go cart track that was cheaper then the ones in Rapid if you are interested in that. I would also suggest some GEOCACHING there are hundreds in the area and it is something that won't cost extra besides the gas.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:49 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Adding the mammoth site (as it's near Wind Cave) and needles hwy to our itinerary. Don't think I will have time to drive as far as Custers Last stand site, but would like too. Devil's Tower is as far as we planned to foray into Wyoming.

Any idea on how long it takes to tour Bear Country?
Bear country would take about 2 hours. We really enjoyed it. I don't remember what the fee was, but every place you go there has a fee for the most part.
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:52 AM   #13
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I have been out there 10 times for Sturgis and recommend Needles highway and Iron Mountain Rd (The Cork screw bridges and the tunnels going certain ways will frame Mt Rushmore at least when traveling certain directions I always did it both directions) and Spearfish canyon Rd From Spearfish SD to Deadwood SD (the waterfalls and rivers are very nice) Custer State park ( dont forget to bring something to feed the donkeys) Take the tram (I think it is called (enclosed ski lift) from keystone. Love the Helicopter rides at Mt rushmore and crazy horse. Def make sure you are at rushmore for the lighting of it. You can travel 100 miles to the east on 90 and go through the Badlands and even get your free cup of water from Wall Drug (west entrance to Badlands)

Have fun!!!!
Eric
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:51 AM   #14
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Black Hills July-August 2012

Lots of great comments by other folks - we're off to the Black Hills for ten nights at Palmer Gulch Resort and KOA - which is about ten minutes from Mount Rushmore - a fantastic spot! Stopping for a couple nights at the Devils Tower KOA enroute - LOTS of things to do in the Black Hills, but don't miss the Badlands and Wall Drug, which are so close...

There is also a great paleontology museum in Hill City, the chair lift and Alpine Slide in Keystone, several spots to pan for gold and tour an old gold mine in Keystone, the great South Dakota Air and Space Museum in Rapid City etc. etc. etc.

PM me your email address and I'll send you a "Ten Things To Do in Rapid City and the Black Hills" email that I just received from South Dakota Tourism.

Lots of cool things for both an 18 and an 8 year old...have fun!
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:06 PM   #15
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Me again, talked to dh and he said he liked bear country. KEYSTONE is fun to walk through and get a "old time" picture. There is one by a Dairy Queen that was cheaper and if you got in early there wasn't a wait. It was on the south side of town. WIND CAVE is a good cave to visit. Evens Plunge is a naturally warm water swimming pool. Neat idea with some cool slides but the last time I was there (a couple of years ago) it was kind of in disrepair. Wall, the town where WALL DRUG is and the town where the entrance to the BADLANDS are is about 50 miles from Rapid City. As I said in earlier post I would go through the badlands. Get out and walk around. There is a spot on a area that you can climb up the rocks and look through a big hole in the rocks. It is amazing. totally different landscape through the hole. Like all pointy rocks. That area is either the last or one of the last stops if you are entering the badlands through the wall entrance. As far as wall drug goes it is a total tourist trap and we love it. Stop almost everytime we go to Rapid (several times a year) Filled with suvieneers. But then I am a tourist )
I have to say here that my dh hates it. At the AIR FORCE base there is a museum, they have lots of planes and different memorabilia to look at. It wasn't one of my favorite things to do but if you are going to the badlands it is on the interstate that direction. DINOSAUR PARK is in Rapid City. The turn off is hard to find but it is a really neat view especially at night. You can see the whole town. If you have the money there is tons to do and I would say do as much as you can. If you don't then there are still lots of free things you can see and do. PS there is a Ramada Inn that offers cheap rates but the room was aweful. Smelled terrible. I asked for my money back and they put me in a nicer room. I wouldn't stay at that hotel.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:33 PM   #16
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On Hwy 16 ? (the highway that leads out to Mt Rushmore) There are some waterslides on a hill. Not sure the name. If it is a hot day it is fun, take a lunch stay the day. But, the wind really hits there so if it is cool or a windy day it is cold and not much fun.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:06 PM   #17
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Make sure you drive up to Sylvan Lake when at Custer State Park. It is really beautiful. We stayed at a cabin up there a few eons ago. When our vacation started it was 95 degrees in Rapid City. Two days later it was 35 degrees at Sylvan Lake. By the end of the week, it was snowing. We have a photo of the picnic table covered in 7" of snow, where we wrote the date - June 9th (the year escapes me). Needles HIghway is a MUST. I hope you have a rental car with no mileage charges and you'll put quite a few miles on the car driving around to all the attractions. I disagree with some posters poo-pooing Mt. Rushmore. I think it is AWESOME, especially at night. Crazy Horse is cool, although I'm not sure this will ever be completed in our lifetimes. Badlands NP is stunning, but after you've been there about an hour it all starts to look the same. Make sure you take food for the donkeys at Custer. Kids (and adults) will get a hoot out of it. I think there are prairie dogs in Custer as well. I know we spent a lot of time watching them. Have a great time!
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:34 PM   #18
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Thanks so much for all the advice and recommendations. I have changed my plans based off a lot of these.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:17 AM   #19
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Forgot about hot springs SD they used to have area that you could go in for free but now they have Hot springs water park at least tey used not sure worth asking about
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