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Another post in which I solicit more of your help...

Okay friends...I am soooo grateful for all the traveling tips y'all gave me!! LOVE them! (In fact, my wheels are turning about a giveaway...)

Now...I need some destination advice.

We are headed to the Black Hills of South Dakota! I am so excited to have my kids experience all that there is to offer "out west"! But...

Well...I dunno where to start. We'll be leaving on a Friday and beginning our trip home on Tuesday. I say "beginning" because we've decided to split the return trip home into two days. So, I'm curious about how we should "run" our vacation.

Is Rushmore a "whole day" destination with 5 kids, or should we try to hit Rushmore and something else on the same day. Bear Country: yay or nay? Mammoth Dig: love it or loathe it? What are your "off the beaten path" must sees?

See what I mean? I'm clueless...

Also...on our trip home, should we stay in Mitchell or Souix Falls? Any other suggestions?

You guys rock...thank you so much for your tips (helpful and sarcastic...sarcasm makes the world go round...)!


  1. Mt. Rushmore is a 10 minute type of activity. If your kids have the same attention span that my hubby and I have (We stopped on our honeymoon adventure from CA to MN last year)!
    We took some photo's and talked about how small it was compared to what we were thinking. But the little town at the bottom is really cute :)

  2. I agree with the above poster that Mt. Rushmore is a 10 minute activity. I was more impressed with Rushmore from the Needles Highway than up close. There used to be a night program that had colored lights on the faces and maybe fireworks. Granted this is going back 15 years.

    Also in the Black Hills is Wall Drug (the kids would like this), Deadwood, Corn Palace and Custard State Park (I think that's were the Needles Highway is).

  3. Sorry can't help ya. And even if I could, I probably wouldn't. Cause I'm insanely jealous that you get to take a vacation. So, with that...I'm giving you the silent treatment until your return. (LOL)

  4. So you are going to be there for 3 days or 10 days?

    My family went there when I was 8 (many, many years ago). To this day, it is one of my favorite family vacations. Right up there with the trips to Disney World.

    1. We went to De Smet which is where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. Not sure if you have girls that have read the books yet, but that was really, really cool.

    2. We loved spending time in the Badland National Park. You can hike and picnic, etc. The donkeys came up to our car begging for food. For an 8 year old this was pretty cool.

    3. We drove to Devil's Tower in Wyoming one night. It was really cool.

    4. We went to both Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. They are what you make them.....take advantage of all of the museums, etc. It was particulary neat to learn about how they were building Crazy Horse.

    5. Make time to go 'mining' for gold. That is pretty cool.

    6. We did the Mamouth thing.....very, very cool.

    7. We didn't do Bear Country b/c we had been to Disney the year before and this was supposed to be a low-key nature vacation.

    8. Make sure to stop at Wall Drug.

    9. We did the Corn Palace---not really worth it, but it is worth a quick stop.

  5. Wall Drug can be done on your way out or on your way back in an hour or two.

    Mt Rushmore SEEMS like an all-day destination--but it's more like a one hour deal.

    CAVES--definitely do the caves--cannot remember but I think Wind cave is better than Jewel.

    Hot Springs--Evan's Plunge was the bees knees when I was a kid but no idea now

    Climb Bear Butte in Sturgis

    Visit Custer State Park and do something cool there

    Spearfish Canyon is awesome--you can go tubing there if the water is high enough

    Devil's Tower is just another 30-40 minutes from Spearfish Canyon and worth the drive

    I'll ask Tigger about other hot spots he loves out there since he's out there all the time

    oh--and CALL ME :)

  6. Oh! and Reptile Gardens was AWESOME and Bear Country is pretty cool too.

  7. What a small world! As we mapped out our move to Washington state, I pretty much insisted on us taking our tim in SD.... I don't know what direction you are coming from (sorry I am new to your blog) but we have so many amazing things planned along the way! If you search you can see all the off the beaten path things for each state!

    I don't know where you plan on staying but we have reservations for an RV park in Custer that is Bedrock RV (or something like it) It's a Flintstone theme looks to be so cute!! I think they have cabins too if you aren't in a travel trailer like us!

    We are definately planning on Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wall Drug and the Corn pallace....but then also the little theme park at the rv park and the putt putt golf there too!

    Wouldn't it be cool if we were ther at the same time?!

  8. I think the Badlands are the best part of SD! We got really close to a buffalo in Custer State Park. Also Wind Cave Nat'l Park. Mt. Rushmore was a brief stop, Crazy Horse at least had a film to watch, Deadwood was okay. I recommend Hot Springs--there's an indoor pool/water park full of the warm mineral spring water. Mitchell Corn Palace was neat.

    I regret I never went to Wall Drug. We were told it wasn't worth a stop but I think it's worse that I spent an entire summer there and didn't go to Wall! Anyway, that's only a short pit stop.

    I think the natural beauty is SD's strongest asset--the badlands and the black hills. Have a great trip!

  9. Mama, Pull up a chair--this could get long! We just got back from the Hills. We usually go about 6x's per year b/c we are so close and have family out there.
    Mt Rushmore--ehhh, its cool to see for the kids and they have a little visitor center but really only plan on 45min- 1 hr. It is cool to see at night, but they don't have fireworks this time of year because of the fire danger.
    Crazy Horse~ Wouldn't bother. You can see it from the highway, it really isn't anything special. But it is very close to Mt Rushmore.
    We have 5 kids also ages 10, 9, 7 and 2 yr old twins. The 10 & 9 yr old always like the Mammoth Dig and Flintstone Park but they are starting to like the caves more. Just pack good shoes and warm clothes if you tour a cave. It is cold, damp and wet down there, but so worth the tour.
    Absolutely must stop to see the badlands-they are so much better than Mt Rushmore.
    Your kids will love Bear Country and def make a stop at Reptile Gardens if they like animals.
    If you get far enough south I am telling you Hot Springs is the best by far. Your kids will have a blast.
    Wall Drug is neat but is a handful when you have 5 kids with you--It is just a bunch of little touristy shops and a big dinosaur! Deadwood-same way, unless your boys are into the cowboy way--they do little skits, but if you can hit Keystone. Its kinda Wall Drug and Deadwood in one. And they have the best salt water taffy ever!!!
    OK, coming back--I personally would recommend SF. They have a lot better selection of hotels. Look at this one--really neat water area for the kids, awesome pizza at the restaurant, and its easy to get to. and pick the airport location on Russel St.
    If you are hell bent on seeing the Corn Palace then stay in Mitchell, but that is cool to see once in your life but if you are heading home on I-90 you can make a 15 min pit stop and drive by. Really nothing else in Mitchell to see or do.
    Whew....I'm out of breath! Or I mean my fingers are tired! I will let you know if I think of anything else!

  10. Ok, I forgot a few more things. The Kosmos is SO much fun, but we haven't been there in a few years. Look it up online. Its set in a wierd gravitational area so you can roll a ball up hill and it doesn't come back. Your big kids would have a blast here.
    Also, I know you get car sick, bring Dramamine or whatever you take. Once you get into the hills, the roads get very curvy and windy and a lot of speed up and slow just warning ya! K, done now!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Hey! You're headed to my neck of the woods! Yay! We were just in the Black Hills last week! We drove up from Nebraska through Hot Springs and Custer State Park and then stopped at Mt Rushmore (been there so many times but had to show the kids.) If you like touristy little western towns then there are a lot of neat little treasures in Keystone. I recommend taking a ride on the 1880's Train. Very cool. That takes a little more time & planning but is a nice relaxing ride through the Hills. We stopped at the Cosmos. (hourish) It's fascinating...getting caught up in the illusions. The kids favorite stop was Reptile Gardens. They loved the "humongous turtle" and the crocodiles and snakes. That stop took a couple/few hours to catch all the shows and see all the creepy crawlies. The Ranch is a fun stop. Mini golf & Go carts. Another fun place is the Rushmore Waterslide Park. I would only plan on a couple things a day though. I've never been to Bear Country but if you do go I'm told you should go during the cool of the morning or else it is a waste of time cause all the bears will be lazily hidden in the shade. I'm not a fan of the Mammoth Site. Are you staying in Rapid City or in Custer State Park? Have fun! Hope I could be of some help to you. I'd gladly give you any more info/advise you may have. :)

  13. Kosmos! Yes! I forgot about Kosmos! it is WAY cool :)

  14. Hi...I actually live in Rapid City. I agree with the others, Mt Rushmore defiantely isn't an all day thing.I would say maybe an hour or two at the most.Keystone is a fun touristy town with cute shops and restaurants. I would probably check out Reptile Gardens. Also, Rushmore Waterslide Park is fun and can be an all day affair if you want it to be. If you're family is into fishing at all there is a cute lake near Mt rushmore called Horsethief Lake. We always have alot of luck fishing there.

    I'm sure there's more stuff that I can't think of right now...If you have any questions feel free to email me at



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