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Old 07-11-2017, 06:55 AM   #1
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Dakota's and Beyond, Wyoming & Montana

Instead of our first major trip to the Grand Canyon and Utah my DW said she would like to do the Dakota's instead. Before I start some trip planning I would like a basic idea of where to go, when to go and what to see. I will be traveling from South Alabama. I figured this could take about 2 months +- to do.

I don't foresee taking this trip until September-2018. I think I have to figure in cold weather and snow which I do not want any part of. So leaving before September may to late. Being our passports has lapsed I do not see us going into Canada.

Any suggestions is greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:20 AM   #2
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I will follow this. Interested too.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:49 AM   #3
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Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Custer state park, wind cave, Teddy Roosevelt national park, wall drug (if you're into souvenirs, etc)
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:08 AM   #4
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we haven't spent a lot of time in North Dakota but the Black Hills of South Dakota is my favorite place to be. Over the past 46-years we've made a couple of dozen trips into the hills, some were on car trips before we started RVing. September is a glorious time to be in the hills...the days are warm and the nights crispy cool. There's a chance you could run into snow but the odds are good it won't last long.

The area of the Black Hills is huge and driving from one end to the other can take some time so I would recommend spending time in the northern hills and then moving to the southern hills....at least a week, preferably more, in each. If it were me I'd plan for a month in the hills.

Deadwood, Lead (pronounced Leed), Spearfish Canyon, Sturgis, Devils Tower (abt 90-min west in Wyoming), Rapid City and Belle Fourche (technically neither are in the Black Hills) are all in the northern hills. Hill City, Keystone (host to Mt. Rushmore), Custer and Custer State Park, Hot Springs, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave Natl Park, Jewel Cave Natl Monument are all in the southern hills.

Things I'd recommend you not miss...

- Homestake Gold Mine Tour in Lead
- Mt. Moriah and town tour in Deadwood.
- A drive through Spearfish Canyon...one of the prettiest canyons you'll ever see
- A day trip out to Devil's Tower Natl Monument in Wyoming, about a 2-hr drive from Rapid City
- Museums up in Belle Fourche
- Mt. Rushmore including the evening lighting ceremony
- Needles Highway
- Custer State Park including the wildlife animal loop, Sylvan Lake and more. To really see CSP you'll need a couple of days. Every October there is a buffalo roundup in the park. This is well worth seeing. Check google for the details and schedule for 2017. If you drive the wildlife loop expect to see buffalo, mountain goats, big horn sheep and more. be sure to bring some apples to feed the wild donkeys you will encounter.
- The narrow gauge train that runs between Hill City and Keystone
- The Mammoth Project in Hill City
- Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hill City
- Crazy Horse Memorial between Hill City and Custer
- Wind Cave Natl Park
- Jewel Cave Natl Monument

if you take I-90 west from the Minnesota border take a lunch break in Mitchell, SD and see the Corn Palace.

And be sure to stop at the I-90 rest stop at the Missouri River for a fantastic panoramic view of the river and a nice Lewis & Clark exhibit.

The Badlands Natl Park is well worth a day or at least a drive on the loop road that runs between exit 131 and exit 110 on I-90. at exit 110 you'll find Wall, SD and the famous Wall Drug Store. stop at Wall, get come free ice water and walk thru the "drug store". I enjoy the vintage western photographs and real ice cream. at Wall Drug you can buy a rubber spear or framed artwork and everything in between. There are two RV parks in Wall each about a 5-minute walk to "downtown". The Wounded Knee museum is located in Wall.

The Minuteman Missile site/tour is also at exit 131 off I-90.

There are RV Parks galore both commercial and public in the hills but in the southern hills I'd recommend any of the campgrounds in Custer State Park with a special recommendation for the Game Lodge Campground.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:19 AM   #5
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Thanks rk911! Lots of info. We are looking at Sept this year. What would you say is the latest we should stay before heading south.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:53 AM   #6
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Thanks rk911! Lots of info. We are looking at Sept this year. What would you say is the latest we should stay before heading south.
you'll find that many of the public and private campgrounds and parks will start closing around October 15th, give or take...it largely depends on how fast it gets cold and how soon it snows. but the farther south you get the better off you are finding open parks. we're usually headed back to Chicago in early October.
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Old 07-11-2017, 01:41 PM   #7
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you'll find that many of the public and private campgrounds and parks will start closing around October 15th, give or take...it largely depends on how fast it gets cold and how soon it snows. but the farther south you get the better off you are finding open parks. we're usually headed back to Chicago in early October.
I concur with the early closing of parks, noticed that when planning a YSNP trip. Some parks close as early as the first week of Oct.

Everything rk911 says to do, agreed heartily. Had the fortune (some may say misfortune) of spending time at the 75th Sturgis M/C rally and the club rode many of the routes rk911 pointed out. Well worth it. You'll miss the m/c rally and won't have to deal with all the m/c traffic. It was slow going with 700+ bikes in the group.

There's a very nice scenic drive, Peter Norbeck Scenic byway. In my book, it's not recommended in/with an RV. I believe there's a you tube video of the 5'ver getting stuck on Needles highway. It was wild enough on a m/c, can't imagine trying to navigate an RV through all of that.
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:46 PM   #8
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You gotten some good suggestions here.

The end of August, 2011, we drove from the Florida Panhandle up to the Badlands. Because we were introducing my sister and her husband to Yellowstone later in the trip, we didn't get to suggested areas in North Dakota. They're on our to-see list. An easy drive south of Custer State Park - which we loved - is the Mammoth Site near Hot Springs. Interesting and educational if you care about that sort of thing. We enjoyed it.

I agree with the suggestion that you start as far north as you plan to go then work your way back south.

It's a beautiful part of the country. Enjoy and safe travels.
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Old 07-11-2017, 03:22 PM   #9
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You gotten some good suggestions here.

The end of August, 2011, we drove from the Florida Panhandle up to the Badlands. Because we were introducing my sister and her husband to Yellowstone later in the trip, we didn't get to suggested areas in North Dakota. They're on our to-see list. An easy drive south of Custer State Park - which we loved - is the Mammoth Site near Hot Springs. Interesting and educational if you care about that sort of thing. We enjoyed it.

I agree with the suggestion that you start as far north as you plan to go then work your way back south.

It's a beautiful part of the country. Enjoy and safe travels.
How about a route through ND over to Montana and then down to Yellowstone and back across SD and then back home. A lot of the suggestions I am unfamiliar with and I will need to search to see where they are at. I don't see a lot of things to see in ND.

What time of the year would I need to leave? I would like to miss the high traffic summer months if possible.
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Old 07-11-2017, 03:46 PM   #10
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I just got back to AR from Custer, SD two weeks ago. Loved it, Rushmore. Crazy Horse, Custer State Park (both loops).

I stayed at a private RV resort -- The Roost RV Resort. Loved it, especially full hookups, plus closer to Town. Consider it.
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Old 07-11-2017, 03:51 PM   #11
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Instead of our first major trip to the Grand Canyon and Utah my DW said she would like to do the Dakota's instead. Before I start some trip planning I would like a basic idea of where to go, when to go and what to see. I will be traveling from South Alabama. I figured this could take about 2 months +- to do.

I don't foresee taking this trip until September-2018. I think I have to figure in cold weather and snow which I do not want any part of. So leaving before September may to late. Being our passports has lapsed I do not see us going into Canada.

Any suggestions is greatly appreciated.
I could not edit this, but the "Beyond" is Montana and Wyoming.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:22 PM   #12
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Ray, everything out west is a lot farther apart than you're probably used to and not knowing how many miles per day you prefer to drive it's hard to determine how much time you're gonna need to get from 'Bama to ND, then to Montana & Yellowstone to the Hills and back to 'Bama. to me that's a pretty aggressive plan given 2-mos of travel including getting to/from home. Yellowstone NP is huge and you should set aside at least a week to to tour it. Just "down the road" is Grand Teton National Park and you should set aside another few days for that...at a minimum. You're gonna want some down days where you can relax, no driving, touring...just relax and soak it in. Unless this is your first and last trip out west I'd concentrate either on the ND, SD the Black Hills and eastern Wyoming...or...Montana, Yellowstone and Grand Teton NPs.

if you're set on doing it all I'd be leaving no later than mid-August and plan to be at least in southern IL or IN (depending on how you're getting home) by mid-October.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:57 PM   #13
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About 10 years ago we were in Yellowstone the week before September 15th. It snowed, and the nights got fairly cold. It would warm up during the day but DH wanted to go park at one of the wildlife viewing area's while it was still dark to catch the wildlife at daybreak, it snowed and I got cold and cranky. Also the restaurants and some of the hotels were starting to close for the season (it was pre-RVing). I would be prepared for cold if you decide to go that way.

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Old 07-11-2017, 07:10 PM   #14
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The Buffalo round up in Custer State Park is always the last Friday in September. You will need to get there no later than Thursday because people start lining up to get in as early as 3 AM
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