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1880 train

West Salem...
Level Contributor
48 posts
1 review
1880 train

So I have looked at the website, I've looked at reviews and the questions here on TA, and am a little confused. On their website to reserve tickets it asks for your time for trip there and then trip back. Do I just leave what pops up automatically (they are like a little over an hour apart from each other) and do we arrive to keystone and have to get off and then get on a new train for the way back to holl city? Are you within walking distance of anything in keystone? Thanks for your help, it's very confusing

Rockford, Illinois
Level Contributor
532 posts
59 reviews
1. Re: 1880 train

There is only one train so you decide how long you want to spend in the town you are going to, that is why you pick the return time. Both stations are within easy walking distance to the touristy (spelled shopping) areas of each town.

South Dakota
Level Contributor
4,552 posts
2. Re: 1880 train

Whichever train you use for the return trip, get in line early so you get a seat, especially if you're traveling with a group and want to sit together. If you're going to do an immediate return trip, stay on the train or have one person stay on the train to save your seats. We made the mistake of getting off to use the bathroom (there are none on the train) and lost our seats. We had a tough time finding any seats together and ended up sitting separately on the way "home."

If there is more than one adult in a group that includes children, I'd highly recommend one adult driving while the other takes the kids on the train. The return trip is the exact same scenery and dialogue. While we enjoyed the first leg of the trip, we got a bit bored and antsy on the return trip.

Being from West Salem, you're probably quite familiar with the downtown area of the Wisconsin Dells. Keystone is very similar.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,393 posts
61 reviews
3. Re: 1880 train

We have taken the train out of Keystone and went into Hill City. We have eaten at the Alpine Inn for lunch (well worth it) and taken the last train out of Hill City for the day. I recommend this highly, as it give you time to eat (there might be a wait at the Alpine) and then you can hit those shops Dave mentioned. If the shops aren't your thing, you can stop at Everything Prehistoric and see the small museum with gems and dinosaur skeletons. It's great for kids if they have an interest.

Hope that helps! Enjoy your trip.

West Salem...
Level Contributor
48 posts
1 review
4. Re: 1880 train

Thank you so much for your replies. It helped make it easier in understanding how it works. We will all take the trip on the train as both my husband and I want to do it,and I don't feel com for table driving somewhere I'm not familiar. I think we will probably go from keystone to hill city, spend time there for a litter bit and then head back. Thank you for the tip on getting seats together. It's weird they wouldn't just automatically keep families together, but I will make sure we are there plenty early then. Thank you all again.

Edited: 17 February 2016, 12:11
Bluffton, South...
Level Contributor
66 posts
63 reviews
5. Re: 1880 train

Great information! We are staying in Keystone, in August. Would like to visit Rushmore and Crazy Horse in the AM, afternoon dedicated to this train (2:30 departure, round trip), lunch at the Apline Inn, and return to Keystone. Is this enough time for lunch at the Alpine? How far in advance do we need to make reservations? Then return to Rushmore in the evening for the light show. Is this doable? Or too much for one day?

Minnesota
Level Contributor
1,068 posts
82 reviews
6. Re: 1880 train

BevnJer,

Keep in mind that the Alpine Inn is open for lunch 11:00 - 2:30 and then closes until 5:00 when dinner starts. It is closed on Sundays. We have been to both lunch and dinner several times. We try and get there when it first opens so we don't have to waste time waiting for a table to open up. We like all their food, but I prefer lunch.

We rode the train in June. I think I made reservations for 10 of us the day before. I ditto MomMobile5's thoughts about the actual train ride.

It looks like you might have to adjust the sequence of activities if you want to include lunch at Alpine Inn. We could do all the activities you mention in one day, but we aren't really that into Crazy Horse other than drive-bys and Volksmarch.

South Dakota
Level Contributor
4,552 posts
7. Re: 1880 train

BevnJer, I think it's doable, but I'd rework the schedule:

10:00AM leave Hill City on the train. Get in line early if it's not the first train of the day (depends on the day). Arrive in Keystone at 11:00. Take turns saving seats on the train if you need to use the restroom as there will be a mob waiting to get back on and you won't get your seats back. Leave at 11:15. Arrive in Hill City at 12:15 and do lunch at the Alpine Inn. Let's say lunch is done at 2:00. Go to Crazy Horse from 2:00-5:00. Then drive to Rushmore, eat a sack supper or supper in the cafe. See everything outside at Rushmore that you want to see before it gets dark, do the indoor exhibits and then do the lighting ceremony.

This way, you'll get the round-trip on the train, you'll be in Hill City at the proper time for lunch and you'll have two nice large blocks of time for Crazy Horse and Rushmore without feeling rushed.

Whatever you do, I'd only do Rushmore once. That will save you time. If you save it for last, you can see it during both daylight and illuminated during darkness.

Again, be sure to get in line early for the train.

I haven't done the Alpine Inn for lunch. I know they don't take reservations for supper. They also don't take credit cards.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,393 posts
61 reviews
8. Re: 1880 train

We have done the Alpine for lunch. It can actually get crowded. We took the train from Keystone to Hill City around 11 a.m. Upon arrival in Hill City, we headed straight to the Alpine. We did have a short wait for a table. I realize that can be hard to predict, so you might not have any wait at all. We shopped after lunch in Hill City and went to Everything Prehistoric. Then we took the last train back to Keystone. It's been several years since we've done the train, but I believe it left around 3:30.

This plan could possibly work if you were willing to skip Crazy Horse and head to Rushmore upon arrival back in Keystone. This way, you'd only be going once, which is a smart move. You can make 2 trips, but if you are on limited time, once is better. Only you know if you can fit Crazy Horse another day, or if you'd prefer a drive by. I feel the monument is worth seeing for a 1st time visitor. It's history is equally as fascinating as Rushmore's.

Well, now that many of us have given you options, we will leave it up to you to decide what works best. Enjoy your trip, whatever you choose!

Bluffton, South...
Level Contributor
66 posts
63 reviews
9. Re: 1880 train

Thank you for the info. Good to know the hours at Alpine. Good to know about getting seats together on return train ride.

Sibley, Iowa
Level Contributor
1 post
15 reviews
10. Re: 1880 train

The train ride is fun to do. You can depart from either Hill City or Keystone. You can buy tickets where you board the train. You ride the train to the other city get off and spend some time and then board to ride back. The depot is near Main Street in both towns.

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