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Itinerary help

Lansing, Michigan
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Itinerary help

I need some help finalizing our itinerary. We are staying in Keystone and would like to take one day to do wildlife loop, wind cave candlelight tour (booked in advance), iron mtn road south to north, and Mt. Rushmore, in that order. What would be our best driving route to accomplish these? Also, would it be better to book the 10:30 or the 1:30 cave tour? I don't have a good feel for how long it will take to drive from Keystone and complete the wildlife loop before the cave tour. This is only one of our days in the Black Hills. I've got our other days figured out.

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Mount Rushmore Resort & Lodge
Mount Rushmore Resort...
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Hill City, SD
The Black Hills
The Black Hills
South Dakota
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Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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1. Re: Itinerary help

From Keystone, head east on Rt. 40 to Rt. 79 S (Heartland Expwy). Pick up Rt. 36, heading west to the Wildlife Loop. Begin at the Game Lodge and work your way around. You will need to backtrack slightly to head to Wind Cave. (Head south on 87). I would book the 1030 tour, but make sure you get an early start on the Wildlife Loop. To head to IMR, drive 87 north to 16a east. Stop at Rushmore.

Here's a map that help to make this more clear:

https:/…Black-Hills-and-Badlands-Full-Map.pdf

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Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
The Rushmore Hotel & Suites
The Rushmore Hotel...
934 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Lansing, Michigan
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2. Re: Itinerary help

Very helpful, thank you! With your directions, would I be doing the wildlife loop clockwise? Would it be best to go around the loop as far as the Blue Belll Lodge area, take 87S to Wind Cave, then finish the loop on the return trip?

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Lansing, Michigan
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3. Re: Itinerary help

Also, how early do you recommend leaving our Keystone hotel to start this day? Do you know how much in advance of our Wind Cave tour we need to arrive for that (again, tour will already be booked)?

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Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
The Black Hills...
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4. Re: Itinerary help

If you do the loop from the State Game Lodge, or really the visitor center, to Blue Bell, you've done the entire Loop.

Hwy 16A and Hwy 87 really aren't part of the loop. They are thru highways with higher speeds, limited pull-outs, etc.

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State Game Lodge
State Game Lodge
481 Reviews
Custer, SD
Blue Bell Lodge
Blue Bell Lodge
270 Reviews
Custer, SD
Pitman, New Jersey
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5. Re: Itinerary help

Yes, you would be driving the Wildlife Loop clockwise. If you review the map, you will see the entire route. As Roadrunner said, 16A and 87 are basically the route to get to the specific roads. They are not part of the loop/scenic drives. You could stop at Blue Bell and head down to Wind from there, but there won't be much left of the loop (mainly the Mt. Coolidge area, which some enjoy driving up to take in the views). I would start the day as early as possible, ideally being at the loop by 7:30 a.m. This will allow you plenty of time. I'm sure Wind Cave may have given you some guidelines on when to arrive for your tour, but I would arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to tour time. (I am a bit of a control freak, so I would try for 30 minutes prior.) They typically have you assemble ahead of time

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Blue Bell Lodge
Blue Bell Lodge
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Custer, SD
Lansing, Michigan
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6. Re: Itinerary help

Perfect, thank you both for your help!

bourbonnais, IL
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7. Re: Itinerary help

Would it be ok to take 16A from Keystone all the way to Wildlife Loop or would that take too long? Looking at Google Maps it seems like the most direct route but I do see that it is very curvy and maybe that would add a lot of extra time??

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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8. Re: Itinerary help

Hi Candy,

You would be actually using Iron Mountain Rd to get to the Wildlife Loop. It does take more time to drive, and also, you would be driving the road from north to south, which does not afford any opportunities to view Rushmore in tunnels. Would you be driving IMR another day, from south to north? If you are, then I would go for it unless you are in a huge rush. If you can let us know what else you are planning for the day, it would definitely help.

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The Rushmore Hotel & Suites
The Rushmore Hotel...
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Rapid City, SD
bourbonnais, IL
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9. Re: Itinerary help

We will be driving from Sioux Falls and hope to arrive by 3 or 4pm. The plan was to check in to Powder House, drive IMR and continuing on to Mt Rushmore and do the trail and lighting ceremony. Maybe we should drive IMR before heading to Powder House then backtrack to Mt Rushmore??

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Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls
South Dakota
Powder House Lodge
Powder House Lodge
315 Reviews
Keystone, SD
Mount Rushmore Resort & Lodge
Mount Rushmore Resort...
200 Reviews
Hill City, SD
Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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10. Re: Itinerary help

If you arrive in the area at 3 p.m., I think your plan is more feasible. If you don't arrive until 4, I think it could be more challenging. To see just the monument (not including the drive of IMR), you should be at Rushmore between 5 or 5:45 at the latest to see everything by daylight and tour the visitor's center. On this day you are describing, I would probably not include the IMR drive. I would focus on checking in, having a dinner maybe at Powder House, and then focusing on just touring Rushmore. You could always drive IMR another day.

Also, I am assuming you are not driving the Wildlife Loop this day??

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The Rushmore Hotel & Suites
The Rushmore Hotel...
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Rapid City, SD
Powder House Lodge
Powder House Lodge
315 Reviews
Keystone, SD
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