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Old 04-17-2019, 08:01 AM   #1
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Help me plan my trip, Two Thirds of US

The details:

8 weeks, May-June 2020
Me, wife, 12 yr old daughter, dog
42í fifth wheel
Starting location northern MD

So far Iím thinking Badlands, SD as first stop, 6 days to get there, 2 days staying there
Custer State Park/Mt Rushmore as second stop, spend 4-5 days in the area,
Then off to Yellowstone for 4-5 days, taking 2-3 days to get there,
Then 2-3 days at Grand Teton?

Either way, thatís only almost 4 weeks, need ideas to fill in the rest of the trip, without pushing hard the whole time, we want to take our time.

We like cities, too.

Suggestions?
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:49 AM   #2
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I would suggest that you extend your time in the South Dakota to maybe 5 or 6 days instead. There is a lot to do and see around Custer's state park and MT Rushmore. Hill City and Keystone to name a few area to explore. I believe there use to be a steam engine train ride between Hill City and Keystone SD will worth the ride.

In Yellowstone NP we spent a week there and still did not see everything in the park. The park is amazing and is so, diversified that it takes days to visit each area. Then you can visit Codey WY and if you are into history there is a Japanese interment camp in Heart Mountain WY about 20 min or so, drive North East of Cody off of state route14A.

Another days drive would be the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway this leads to part of the Beartooth Highway. Chief Joseph Scenic Highway which leaves Cody WY and will take you into MT and another entrance to Yellowstone NP. This leads into the LAMAR valley of Yellowstone.

There is a more to see and do but it could take a travel journal to tell you everything.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:13 AM   #3
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If you like western and cowboy memorabilia, you would enjoy King's Saddlery Museum in Sheridan, WY. King?s Saddlery, King Ropes | Sheridan, Wyoming
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:33 AM   #4
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Make sure to stop at Wall Drug. It's a crazy interesting place. You can fit that in going from the Badland to the Black Hills.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:38 AM   #5
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Downtown Buffalo WY. Go to the Occidental Hotel downtown and just wander around. Trust me on this one. VERY neat stuff.


One part day in Deadwood, SD.


Custers Last Stand was sort of disappointing.


Devils Tower, for sure.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:53 AM   #6
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Very general questoin. Here is a general answer. Visti Montana, Denver, CO Rockies, northern NM if you have time.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:54 AM   #7
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Crazy Horse Memorialģ is in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota in the United States. The entrance along US Highway 16/385 (the Crazy Horse Memorial Highway) is 9 miles south of Hill City, SD and 4 miles north of Custer, SD. Crazy Horse Memorialģ is 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:13 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions around my SD and WY destinations. Stretching a few days at each place isn't a problem.

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Originally Posted by ppine View Post
Very general questoin. Here is a general answer. Visti Montana, Denver, CO Rockies, northern NM if you have time.
Well, not really a "very general question" when you take into account my return destination (northern MD) and the time I have available to me (8 weeks).

Traveling to the destinations you mention drags me further away from home, putting real pressure on the return trip. We don't want to do 5hr+ days if we can avoid it, and we don't want to pick up and move on every day, either.

Limiting our western reach to WY gives us almost 3 weeks for the trip back, assuming we linger in our SD and WY destinations a few extra days.

Can anybody suggest a destination between Grand Teton and northern MD? Something to hit on our way back?
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by BandJCarm View Post
Downtown Buffalo WY. Go to the Occidental Hotel downtown and just wander around. Trust me on this one. VERY neat stuff.


One part day in Deadwood, SD.


Custers Last Stand was sort of disappointing.


Devils Tower, for sure.
Custer State Park, not the little big horn site. The state park has camping (might be size limited) and buffalo herds.
Concur with your other stuff.

How about Tombstone on the way back?
Or stop in at Antique Archeology (American Pickers) in Iowa near I-80. We got there late and they were closed ;(
IF you go I-80 either way, there are the in ground missile silos out in the Dakotas. Must get tickets in advance to tour them. I found out about them AFTER our trip.
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:39 AM   #10
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smaller circle: Dinosaur Natl Mnmt (nw CO), Rocky Mtn NP (N of Denver), Mammoth Caves (KY)




larger circle: Craters of the moon (sw ID), Zion/bryce/escalante/Capital reef (UT), Arches NP (UT), mesa verde CO
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:11 PM   #11
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S.l.o.w. down

You are in too much of a rush. We spent a MONTH in Yellowstone and still did not get around to all we wanted to do. Right next to Yellowstone is Grand Teton NP - an astonishing place. If you "need" something to fill your time, then add that to your list. Colter Bay in Grand Teton has full hook-ups but you are likely too late to get a spot.

A day north of Yellowstone (not a full day) is Glacier National Park. Consider both depending on what you like to do. But rather than rushing around to "see more stuff" stay put longer and find out what these places are really like.

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Old 04-17-2019, 12:14 PM   #12
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Wind Cave National Park in S.D. Maybe drop down to Denver, Rocky Mt National Park, Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy. Come back via St Louis?
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:34 PM   #13
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You are in too much of a rush. We spent a MONTH in Yellowstone and still did not get around to all we wanted to do. Right next to Yellowstone is Grand Teton NP - an astonishing place. If you "need" something to fill your time, then add that to your list. Colter Bay in Grand Teton has full hook-ups but you are likely too late to get a spot.

A day north of Yellowstone (not a full day) is Glacier National Park. Consider both depending on what you like to do. But rather than rushing around to "see more stuff" stay put longer and find out what these places are really like.

The only limit we're putting on this trip is the 8 week length. And the fact that we DON'T want to rush.

We'd rather sit and stay a while at worthy locations, as long as its not at the expense of rushing back east to get home. Nothing worse to ruin a trip than a high-pressure sprint at the end, with long tows. We'd like the WHOLE trip to go a leisurely pace... while taking no longer than 8 weeks.

Custer State Park is on our list to see the buffalo, and because it's so close to other sights (Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower), while also on the way to Yellowstone, so that was thinking regarding the route out.

Everything else, including duration of stay at each place, is flexible.

Interesting AND relaxing!
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:37 PM   #14
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Wink Too much

Eight weeks sounds like a lot of time but, in the RV world, it really isn't. It sounds like you want to see as much as possible which is something many (most?) new RVers try to do. It generally takes two ~ four years to get that urgency out of your system. You say it will take six days to drive out. That means it should take six days to drive back (maybe more). That alone uses up almost a quarter of your eight weeks. Driving like a fiend just to "get there" is likely to leave you tired (if not totally exhausted). My advice, cut back on your itinerary so that 1: you can stay safe (a tired driver is a dangerous driver) and 2: plan on staying a little longer at an interesting hub. Doing so will cut down on the time you spend setting up and tearing down your camp. SD Badlands area has LOTS to see and do and, it can generally be done with a modest drive from your camp. Allowing a little more time will also give you a "cushion" should the weather gods not smile upon you. The Moab, UT area is another area that would be a good hub. I talked with many campers who wished they could stay longer in a particular area. I can't remember speaking with anyone who said they stayed too long. If you're at least 62 years old, you (or anyone other senior in your group), qualifies for the National Parks Senior Pass. NOTE: although everyone in the SAME vehicle is admitted with that one Senior Pass, should you leave the park (shop, sightsee etc), that senior MUST be in your vehicle when you reenter the park! Otherwise, without the Senior Pass card holder present, you'll have to pay the going rate to get back in (Rangers check the ID of EVERY senior. DON'T try to use someone else's Senior Pass. It will be confiscated and you may be cited). If you can arrange to have a second driver, you will be able to cover more ground by switching off every two ~ three hours (at which time you can eat, use restrooms, refuel, stretch, etc. Regardless of how much you will be able to see, it will, at best, be only the tip of the iceberg. Concentrate on have a quality vacation over quantity. You'll always have next year to see more.

PS: I'm in my ninth year with over 100,000 mile traveled by RV. I've barely scratched the surface of all there is to see, do and explore.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:38 PM   #15
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We did a similar trip last year. I'd stay a little longer in the Blackhills area. Rushmore & Crazyhorse monuments, drive the loop through Custer Park, maybe drive to Deadwood (if you want to see some cheesy motorcycle stuff). You can even drive the backroads and get back to the Badlands National Park. From there, we went to Devils Tower Monument - it'd definitely worth going there since you're in the area. We then went up to Glacier for several days. There is a lot to see in Glacier so I'd plan on 4+ days. Then we drove south to Yellowstone for 10 days. As others have said, it is very hard to see everything in Yellowstone in just a couple days. We took a different loop/area around the park each day and still missed lots. I fished one day, took a whitewater trip one day and we got rained out one day. We also drove down to the Grand Tetons National Park. Have to say, this was the biggest surprise of our trip. It was unbelievably beautiful - wish we had stayed a couple days there. Definitely get there.

There's so much to see in that part of the country, you really can't go wrong. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:41 PM   #16
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For the record, just to set the tone, we're not newbies at this.

I'm fully aware of the "eyes bigger than your stomach" phenomenon when it comes to travel.

We're about quality over quantity.

We've done tens of thousands of miles of RV towing up and down the east coast for years.

Besides a full year I spent in a 72 VW camper van traveling North America, this will be the first trip out west as a family.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:31 PM   #17
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Here are a couple of possible stops to break up the trip;
The RV museum in Elkhart, IN.
The waterfalls in Sioux Falls, SD.

I would do the Badlands and Devils Tower as two day trips from the Black Hills.

From Grand Tetons NP, drop south to I-70 and stop at Arches NP and Canyonlands NP near Moab, UT. Following I-70 east you have Rocky Mountain NP (near Estes Park, CO) or the Airforce Academy and Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO.

Once you start across the plains on I-70 there is the St Louis Arch, Indianapolis.
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Old 04-17-2019, 02:58 PM   #18
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Again, thanks for the suggestions.

Looks like Grand Teton should be a mandatory destination.

What campgrounds should I seek at Yellowstone and at GT given my 5er size?

How about at Black Hills?

And I assume I should be booking now, even though the trip is a year away...

As long as you all indulge me, I will keep coming back to this thread for fine tuning as I dial in the trip.
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Old 04-17-2019, 03:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddavid View Post
Again, thanks for the suggestions.

Looks like Grand Teton should be a mandatory destination.

What campgrounds should I seek at Yellowstone and at GT given my 5er size?

How about at Black Hills?

And I assume I should be booking now, even though the trip is a year away...

As long as you all indulge me, I will keep coming back to this thread for fine tuning as I dial in the trip.
We stayed at Grizzly RV Park and Cabins while at Yellowstone. A very nice park less than a block or two from the West Entrance to Yellowstone. If you stay outside of the Park, you have options for dining, groceries, setting up tours, etc. Not sure about Grand Tetons as we didn't stay there, but we did see Colter Bay RV village. Full hookups and looked pretty good.
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Old 04-17-2019, 03:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toddavid View Post
Again, thanks for the suggestions.

Looks like Grand Teton should be a mandatory destination.

What campgrounds should I seek at Yellowstone and at GT given my 5er size?

How about at Black Hills?

And I assume I should be booking now, even though the trip is a year away...

As long as you all indulge me, I will keep coming back to this thread for fine tuning as I dial in the trip.

There are dozens and dozens of RV parks in the Custer/Blackhills area. We stayed at Fort Welikit campground in Custer and really liked it. Although slightly smaller and a little tight, we were able to get our 40ft 5th wheel in with no problems. This campground is in the trees and seemed to be more scenic than lots of the other campgrounds in the area that look more like large parking lots.
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