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Old 12-05-2013, 05:14 AM   #1
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Destination: Black Hills S.D.

Planning to make a trip in the spring of 2014 in May or June. Live in South Alabama. Would appreciate input and insight on best route, roads, things to see, r.v. parks to stay in along the way. Any tidbits of information would be appreciated.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:45 AM   #2
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We love the Black Hills. Check the weather, as May could be early in those parts and get you into some snow.

Be sure to see all the usual tourist sites, and to drive the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway.

The city park in Spearfish is beautiful, well-kept and clean.

Enjoy!


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Old 12-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #3
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May and/or June is arguably the most beautiful time of year on the high plains approaching the Black Hills. You will find the bloom still on the grasses, water in the wallows and bottomlands, and an abundance of bird and animal life. Since you will be approaching the Hills from the east or south, I would suggest getting off the Interstate highways and taking some of the good federal, state, or county highways. U.S. 20 across northern Nebraska is an especially picturesque drive, delightfully so since you drive through a little-known forested area of northwestern Nebraska. At Chadron you can turn north on U.S. 385 and into the southern Black Hills. Fort Robinson is just west of Chadron--that's where the Lakota Sioux chief Crazy Horse was murdered. You can always take U.S. 18 across southern South Dakota and drive through the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. One of my favorite drives into the Hills from the east is on State Highway 44, which you can actually pick up east of the Missouri River; but if you're pressed for time, you can reach it from Interstate 90 by dropping south into Badlands National Park. Highway 44 goes through the aptly-named very small town of Scenic, crosses the Cheyenne River and its Fremont Cottonwood-laden floodplain, and follows Rapid Creek all the way into Rapid City. This is the old stage route into the Hills from the East. You will get a completely different picture of South Dakota this way. The subtle-ness of the spring colors, and easy pace of the curvature and inclines of this back road, will prepare you for the transition into the uncommon majesty of the Black Hills themselves. Have a wonderful trip!
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:42 PM   #4
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South Dakota is a great state to visit. We have Airstreamed through South Dakota a number of times. Some of the do not miss sights include Sioux Falls. See a Canaries Game if you can. Check out the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Wall Drugs in Wall, South Dakota is a neat place. Custer State Park is a must see with its famous Begging Burros. Of course the Badlands and Mount Rushmore are major attraction. Also check out Deadwood and Lead if you have a chance.

Have a great trip!

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Old 12-06-2013, 10:51 AM   #5
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Mick, we made the trip from NE Oklahoma to Mount Rushmore last June. We took hwy 49 out of Joplin to KC, Omaha, Sioux Falls then 350 miles straight across SD to Rapid City. For the most part, the roads were great. The roughest hwy was through Omaha. It was our first long trip so we were worried about finding RV parks and gas along the way. Not to worry. There are plenty of both, especially between Sioux Falls and Rapid City. We used the AllStays app on our IPad to find RV parks and gas where we wanted to stop.
As far as places to see, the Corn Palace & Cabella's in Mitchell, SD, Wall Drug, the Badlands Natl Park, which is a drive-through Park, Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial are all recommended, especially the Crazy Horse Memorial. I would recommend researching each of these on the web to learn about them before you get there. Have a great trip!
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Old 12-06-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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There are a few commercial campgrounds in town which are convenient but average.
When I was out there there was a lot of boondocking in smaller federal campgrounds that were vey little used.

2 other things which stand out in my memory is Wind Cave which has a choice of short to long tours. Also there is a cool road through the park which goes through a bunch of tunnels, but don''t bring your stream.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:52 PM   #7
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2 other things which stand out in my memory is Wind Cave which has a choice of short to long tours. Also there is a cool road through the park which goes through a bunch of tunnels, but don''t bring your stream.
Lumatic is referring to Custer State Park - Needles Highway - make this part or your agenda!
If your coming across I-90 from the east then take note when you cross the Missouri River near Chamberlin and how the landscape starts to change.
Like others I also think the route over northern Nebraska is nice - gets you off the interstate as well as HWY 44 from Interior to Rapid City.

Pigtail bridges


Tunnel #3 on the Needles Hwy



looking through a Needles Hwy tunnel.


The local yocals are "friendly"!
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:34 PM   #8
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Our usual plan for going out west from Mississippi - as soon as we cross the Mississippi river, start looking for long, straight state roads and get off of the interstate highways!
Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Oklahoma and South Dakota are all great places to slow down and make the journey be part of the vacation.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:41 PM   #9
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We have a picture of our '77 Barth going thru that very tunnel, crispyboy.

About 6" clearance all the way around. I stepped outside and guided it through.

I have a story about those sweet burros at Custer State Park.

It has to do with a long, black leash that seemed to have been mistaken for a snake...... My first year on blood thinners......


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Old 12-06-2013, 05:33 PM   #10
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We spent 3 days at Custer this fall on our way down to the balloon festival. The Needles highway is a big loop that goes around Custer State Park. Read up on it because there are a number of tunnels but some of them are too small for trailers. You have to come in at specific spots and drop your trailer at a campground before you drive the entire loop.

It was a spectacular park but I would question early May there. It might be a bit chilly. You have to reserve on line and as I recall they have sites with electricity, water close by and no sewer connections.
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:57 PM   #11
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This trip is on our bucket list.., just reading about it on the forum is making me want to go NOW!!
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:46 PM   #12
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This trip is on our bucket list.., just reading about it on the forum is making me want to go NOW!!
Hey Laurel can I go to!???
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:34 PM   #13
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We'll be visiting the Black Hills this summer, as well.

Murdo, SD has Pioneer Auto which was a big, eclectic mix of vehicles and a prairie village when I visited in 2000. If you watch the TV show American Pickers there's an episode where they bought a torpedo shaped three-wheeled motorcycle from the place.

Is there a huge open pit mine near Deadwood? Seems I saw something about that somewhere.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:17 PM   #14
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We loved the Black Hills. If you like caves, check out Wind Cave National Park (nice campground for a small National Park), or Jewel Cave National Monument.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:41 PM   #15
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Ton of cool stuff once you get there as noted in some previous posts, and there can be a lot of cool stuff along the way; just depends on how much time you have.

Two years ago we left the Badlands heading back to the southeast, and I remember driving for hours and hours across SD looking for a campground or place to stay. If I remember correctly, we ended up in a small town with a hotel, and I almost think we got a room for the night. Suffice it to say that going from one side of SD to the other (either direction) there are not a lot of, well, anything!

If you are up that way, you are pretty close to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, so something to think about. Here are a few pics from our travels.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:46 PM   #16
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Photo taken from our campsite in Wind Cave National Park in 2006.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:50 PM   #17
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Someone else mentioned Jewel Cave NP. Given that I am claustrophobic, I was content to visit the visitor center, but Jewel Caves run for MILES - it is really interesting, and even if you do not go into the caves there is some fabulous info in the visitor center.

At the entrance to the visitor center, they tell you that if you are comfortable climbing through that concrete piece you see in the picture, then you will be good in some parts of the caves. Needless to say, I did not go into the caves. Climbing through that concrete thing gave me the chills alone.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:52 AM   #18
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We have done the area many times on my motorcycle - yes Bike Week, before and after. In addition to what has been posted I would recommend the KOA at Devils Tower, nice place and the Tower is right there by the campground, pretty stream runs by the campground too, Belle Fouche River if I remember correctly. We will be in the area in May and maybe June as well, our destination this trip is Kanab Utah - Best Friends Animal Society for two weeks. Have a great trip, also someone mentioned RT 385, fantastic road.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:09 AM   #19
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As a native of the area a few recommendations:

- there is more to Wall Drug than the he prolific signs. Get your free ice water and an ice cream and look at the collection of brands in the restaurant. From nearly every rancher in the area over the last 100 years. The Hole in the Wall bookstore has a lot of great local history.

- almost all of the state and national park and forest campgrounds are phenomenal in the Hills. Water and power availability varies, so fill up prior and they are great.

- if the weather doesn't cooperate, see the Mammoth site or take in the hot springs in the aptly named Hot Springs, or go to Deadwood, have a nice dinner, see Saloon #10, and take a tour of one of the gold mines. Yes, there is a huge open pit gold mine that can be toured as well.

- culturally, there is the Black Hills playhouse, the High Plains heritage museum in Spearfish, the passion play and all of Deadwood.

- Spearfish canyon is where the last scenes in Dances with Wolves were filmed and Bridal Veil Falls is stunning.

- of course you still need to see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, Needles Highway and Custer State Park. Wind Cave is one of the oldest National Parks in the US.

Best of luck.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:15 AM   #20
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Thanks Matt, my mom was from Marysville, Ks. and have many relatives in Ks, Neb, SD. We hope to make a trip out that way this year to the Bad- lands and Black Hills then up to Antler Sask. so your info is much appreciated.
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