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Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

We will be driving from Washington state in July 2019. I would love help with my itinerary and where to stay. We are leaving July 2nd in the evening and plan to be in Billings,MT by July 3rd evening. After that where we go is unconfirmed. We have to start driving home July 13th. Places we want to go include Little Bighorn, deadwood, wall drug store, explore the badlands a bit, our main focus will be Custer state park including crazy horse, MT. Rushmore, needles hwy, wildlife loop,sylvan lake, jewel cave, mammoth hot springs. Hoping to hit thermopolis WY overnight July 12th on our drive home to Olympia,WA. We prefer hotels to cabins as far as accommodations go. Our group will include my 12 year old son, my husband,and myself. We enjoy seeing historical and geological sights. We can do easy hikes.

18 replies to this topic
Wickenburg, Arizona
Level Contributor
1,039 posts
1. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Have you read the following?

1.Top Questions at the upper right of the South Dakota forum page. You're on the Custer sub-forum page.

2."Sticky" at the top of the main SD forum page

3. South Dakota Travel Guide above #1. You have plenty of time to order it.

These must be viewed on the full site, not the mobile site.

You'l want to stay in Keystone, Hill City, or Custer. I would recommend reservations because the 4th is the busiest time other than the rally.

Edited: 08 September 2018, 07:19
Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
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15,051 posts
123 reviews
2. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Here's a sample itinerary:

July 4 -- Billings to Little Bighorn Battlefield to Spearfish, SD O/N Spearfish

July 5 -- Spearfish Canyon to Rapid City for Bear Country, Reptile Gardens and/or SD Air and Space Museum O/N Rapid City

July 6 -- Rapid City to Wall to Badlands (including Minuteman Missile Site) O/N Badlands for Night Sky Program

July 7, July 8, July 9, July 10, July 11 -- Black Hills attractions. O/N in Keystone, Hill City or Custer

July 12 -- Black Hills to Devils Tower to Thermopolis, WY O/N Thermopolis

July 13 -- Return home

Edited: 08 September 2018, 10:32
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,393 posts
61 reviews
3. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

I would try something like this:

July 4: Drive from Billings to Little Big Horn Battlefield (about 1 hour). Tour the battlefield and then drive about 2.5 hours to Gillette, WY. Overnight.

July 5: Drive from Gillette to Devils Tower (about 1 hour). Tour the monument and head to Spearfish Canyon for the scenic drive and waterfall hikes. Head over to Deadwood. To me, you don't need much time here. Overnight in Deadwood or Spearfish.

July 6: Head to Rapid City area, seeing Bear Country and Reptile Gardens. Head to Keystone for lodging. It's a great spot for families. Enjoy the town that evening, doing either the Rushmore Tramway/Zipline, Rush Park, or Holy Terror Mini Golf

July 7: Badlands daytrip from Keystone, including Wall Drug and possibly the Minuteman Site.

July 8: Wildlife Loop/ Iron Mt Rd from south to north Rushmore. Tour the monument by day. Head into Keystone for a family activity you haven't done. Return to Rushmore for the lighting ceremony.

July 9: Jewel Cave (advance reservations), Needles Hwy, Sylvan Lake, Crazy Horse

July 10: Wind Cave at opening; Mammoth Site; another Hot Springs activity such as the Wild Horse Sanctuary

July 11: start to head for home and Thermopolis

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
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6,393 posts
61 reviews
4. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Lol, Longhorn and I were posting at the same time and have pretty similar itineraries.

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
5. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Thank you. That looks like a great itinerary and even adds on a couple things I wasn’t sure about!

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
6. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

What is the badlands night sky program and where can I find information on it?

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,393 posts
61 reviews
7. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Here's info about the Night Sky Program:

https:/…night-sky-program.htm

It runs Memorial Day through Labor Day. I believe it begins around 8 or 9p in season. They should have hours up on the nps website next year. I have honestly never been to it, but it's on my bucket list. I am pretty sure Longhorn has done it and can provide an "experienced" opinion. I have read when weather conditions are right, it's totally spectacular.

Arlington, Virginia
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for Arlington
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15,051 posts
123 reviews
8. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

During the Night Sky Program we attended (which took place in the Amphitheatre), a knowledgeable park ranger presented a very good talk on astronomy and the night sky in the park. There were some telescopes set up, but unfortunately, it was a cloudy night so we couldn’t see anything. But just as we were leaving, the ranger said, “The International Space Station will be passing overhead now” and we could see it with the naked eye. That was cool to see!

So even if you encounter a cloudy evening when you overnight in the park, the Night Sky Program is worth attending.

Madison, WI
Level Contributor
10,329 posts
66 reviews
9. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

Where are you staying the night of July 2nd? Hopefully you're not driving straight through across there. It's easy 14-15 hours to Billings with minimal stops. I also suggest taking US-212 to Spearfish from Little Bighorn and look at staying at the Occidental in Buffalo, WY versus Gillette. Much nicer experience and town.

Edited: 08 September 2018, 22:30
Madison, WI
Level Contributor
10,329 posts
66 reviews
10. Re: Itinerary help please. SD July 2019 about 10 days.

too late to edit....see link for Occidental info. Buffalo is only about an hour west of Gillette on I-90.

http://www.occidentalwyoming.com/

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