We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Planning for July 2019

Chattanooga...
Level Contributor
305 posts
10 reviews
Save Topic
Planning for July 2019

I know it's early, but I've learned from these forums, early planning is the best. My husband & I area planning a South Dakota trip for July 2019...middle of the month. It's the 2 of us. We're in our early 50's. Active. We'll be flying into Rapid City. I know we need to stay in Keystone, Custer or Hill. I'm stumped on the direction as to where we need to start and what order. We'll have up to 10 nights in SD. We're coming from TN, so this may be our only opportunity to see South Dakota. The locations we want to see are: Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wind Cave or Jewel Cave, Minutemen Site, Badlands, Devil's Tower, Needles Highway and Custer State Park. We greatly appreciate any help and assistance. Thanks to all who participate in the Trip Advisor Forums...they are awesome.

Mentioned in this post
South Dakota
South Dakota
United States
Rapid City
Rapid City
South Dakota
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Custer
Custer
South Dakota
The Rushmore Hotel & Suites
The Rushmore Hotel...
934 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Needles Highway
Needles Highway
635 Reviews
South Dakota
Custer State Park
Custer State Park
4,906 Reviews
Custer, SD
7 replies to this topic
Arlington, Virginia
Destination Expert
for Arlington
Level Contributor
14,508 posts
116 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Planning for July 2019

With up to 10 nights available for this trip, you should be able to do everything on your list and more. On our last trip to the Black Hills, we had 7 nights, but skipped some of the things you want to see (e.g. Crazy Horse and the caves) because we'd seen them on previous trips. Here's a sample itinerary (based on our own) which may help you plan yours:

Day 1: Arrive in Rapid City. See some of the following sights: South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth AFB tour, Chapel in the Hills, Presidential Walk downtown, Bear Country, Reptile Gardens, Chuckwagon Dinner, Pancake Breakfast, etc. O/N in Rapid City

Day 2: Drive to the Badlands. Do some of the shorter hikes (e.g. Window and Door) and maybe a longer hike (Medicine Loop). Definitely do the Notch Trail. Drive the scenic loop. Go to the Visitor's Center. Do the Minuteman Missile Launch Facility Tour (booked in advance). Do a nighttime ranger program. (The Night Sky Program is offered on Friday through Monday nights.) O/N in Cedar Pass Lodge cabins.

Day 3: Continue visit to Badlands in morning for things not done the day before. Drive to Wall for some kitsch at Wall Drug. Drive to Spearfish and visit the Booth Fish Hatchery--open until 6pm. O/N Spearfish

Day 4: Drive to Devils Tower and do base walk. Return to South Dakota and drive through Spearfish Canyon and do some short waterfall hikes. Drive to BH destination of Keystone, Hill City or Custer

Day 5 - 9: Do the BH sights and attractions (plus some hiking!) O/N Keystone, Hill City or Custer

Day 10: Return to Rapid City to visit attractions not seen on Day 1. O/N Rapid City

Day 11: Depart Rapid City

While you certainly could base yourselves in one BH town for the entire 10 days, we found that moving around some worked better for us.

Be sure to order the free South Dakota Travel Planner which will show you lots of attractions in the BH of which you may be unaware. Also, the accompanying map will help you plan your routes. www.travelsd.com

FWIW, we actually took a day trip to the Little Bighorn Battlefield on one day when we were based in Custer. It was a long day, but worked out well for us because it was raining in the BH that day, but sunny in Montana! It's certainly something to consider since you have so many days at your disposal.

Edited: 07 June 2018, 04:54
Mentioned in this post
The Black Hills
The Black Hills
South Dakota
Rapid City
Rapid City
South Dakota
South Dakota Air and Space Museum
South Dakota Air and...
728 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Chapel in the Hills
Chapel in the Hills
512 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Bear Country USA
Bear Country USA
3,352 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Reptile Gardens
Reptile Gardens
1,908 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Door County
Door County
Wisconsin
Wall Drug
Wall Drug
3,256 Reviews
Wall, SD
South Dakota
South Dakota
United States
Spearfish Canyon
Spearfish Canyon
613 Reviews
Spearfish, SD
Keystone
Keystone
South Dakota
Hill City
Hill City
South Dakota
Custer
Custer
South Dakota
Montana
Montana
United States
The Black Hills...
Level Contributor
591 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: Planning for July 2019

Something that we've been neglecting to mention about the Badlands is that it can get hot out there during the summer and there isn't much shade. In addition, it can be very dry and the sun reflects off of the light colored landscape like it does off of snow. Always watch the sky when hiking as thunderstorms can roll in quickly and once again, there's no cover. Just be prepared for those kind of conditions and you'll be just fine.

Mentioned in this post
Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,296 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Planning for July 2019

Order and direction really don't matter all that much, so there's no need to agonize over that. Longhorn's plan is quite good for you. Just FYI, here are some attractions in the Black Hills that group well together:

Jewel Cave, Needles Hwy, Sylvan Lake, and Crazy Horse

Wildlife Loop, Wind Cave, Iron Mountain Rd., Rushmore

You may also wish to consider seeing the Hot Springs area, including the Mammoth Site and WIld Horse Sanctuary.

We have always been super lucky and experienced overcast weather in the Badlands, but 100 degree is always a possibility in summer. The picnic tables in the park are have metal canopies to keep the sun off of you. However water and sunblock, and even a hat, are all important.

With the number of days you have, if LIttle Bighorn isn't of interest, you might be interested in heading up to North Dakota to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to see the ND Badlands. I haven't been yet but would love to check it out.

Mentioned in this post
The Black Hills
The Black Hills
South Dakota
Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake
1,530 Reviews
Custer, SD
The Rushmore Hotel & Suites
The Rushmore Hotel...
934 Reviews
Rapid City, SD
Chattanooga...
Level Contributor
305 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Planning for July 2019

This information is awesome!! Thank you so much longhorn74, Road_Runner_426 and slrtravelplanner! I'm loving everything I've read. Thank you. My husband loves the idea of Little Big Horn too.

Pittsburgh...
Level Contributor
66 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Planning for July 2019

Make sure you get to jewel cave early. The tours sell out quick. We were there a few weeks ago and got there at noon and the tours were all sold out for the day. For the missle site if you want to take a tour of the D1 middle book it well in advance. it fills up fast. We went to all the sites you want to see. The only disappointment was crazy horse. Stop and take a picture from the road and save the 12/PP entrance fee. You don’t get a better view by paying the money.

The Black Hills...
Level Contributor
591 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Planning for July 2019

Crazy Horse has an outstanding Indian museum and gift shop. If you have no interest in that, then the $12PP admission is a bit steep. Always check first because they have food drives many times a year when admission is a couple of cans a food per person. Check their website for dates.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,296 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Planning for July 2019

Also, my comments won't apply to the OP's situation since they are a party of 2, but for those who might be "lurking" and reading about admission prices to Crazy Horse, keep in mind that the price is $30 per car when there are more than 2 people, so then it becomes much more of a bargain for larger parties. I truly feel it is well worth the $12 per person, but I enjoy the museum and found the movie about the sculptor very interesting and informative.

Reply to: Planning for July 2019
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted