Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Vacation

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Oct 16, 2003
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#1
We will be leaving from North Central Oklahoma and heading to Mt. Rushmore and then Yellowstone. What are some "Don't Miss" places and what are some good ways to drive home after leaving Yellowstone?
 

naffigator

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#2
We will be leaving from North Central Oklahoma and heading to Mt. Rushmore and then Yellowstone. What are some "Don't Miss" places and what are some good ways to drive home after leaving Yellowstone?
Devil's Tower in eastern Wyoming is pretty cool and you can look for the mother ship from Close Encounters. Coming home I would work my way south to western Colorado and see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison then take U.S. 50 which is a beautiful drive stop at Royal Gorge. From Pueblo there are many different ways home but I would go through the Oklahoma Panhandle and on that route you can hit Black Mesa, the Gloss Mountains and Alabaster Caverns.
 
Aug 16, 2012
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#3
JMO as I have not been up there for several decades, but Crazy Horse was nothing worthwhile. Rushmore was inspiring, but overrun. As @naffigator said, if you can work your way to Devil's tower it is worth it. A history buff, I enjoyed going to the Little Big Horn site in southern Montana which is a reasonably close diversion.

Assume you are not going to be in SD during the Sturgis Run (8/2-8/11 this year), but IMO, it is awesome, even if you are not on a bike.

Leaving Yellowstone, you have to go south on 191 through Tetons. Heading east towards Casper is desolate, uninspiring landscape all the way into Denver and beyond. My options would be to consider stopping at Flaming Gorge Reservoir or heading west on 80 to Park City, Utah. In the northern parts of Colorado, great areas include Steamboat, heading south on 9 into Summit County or straying west to catch the Glenwood Canyon which is both beautiful and an engineering marvel. Glenwood Springs has a lot of tourist things including a huge hot springs pool. Any route south of 70 has interesting places with Ouray and Telluride being stupendous this time of year. Going even further south than naffigator's suggestions to Durango before heading back east is also a great drive with all sorts of things to do and see. Durango to Silverthorne RR is a great day thing to do but arrange to do it only one way as a round trip will leave you feeling like a Pennsylvania coal miner. So many things to do in western Colorado one could spend a month idling from stop to stop with endless options. BTW, it is peach harvest time in western Colorado. Best peaches anywhere. Some the size of small softballs. Got to stop and get as many as you can. Western Slope fruit is hard to beat.

Damn I miss Colorado sometimes....
 
Aug 10, 2004
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Stillwater
#4
Just returned from up there.mt rushmore,cody,Yellowstone,tetons,Jackson hole,steamboat and estes.

Skip Jackson hole.stay somewhere west into idaho.tetons are not that great after seeing Yellowstone's beauty.jackson hole is too crowded with lots of traffic.not to mention way over priced and snobby.

Go to mt rushmore and then drive through custer state park.it Costs 20 to drive through.i was shocked Rushmore was only 10 to park and free to enter.crazyhorse is ok but we just drove BY FROM the highway.i was not paying 20 per person to see it up close.still not FINISHED and has been ongoing for 70+ yrs.

If u love wildlife get up early AND get to ys at sunrise.we did for 3 days and it was worth it.very few people until about 8 am.always be on the lookout.we saw everything but a wolf.plus BULL elk,11 black bears AND a grizzly.download the gypsy guide app for 5 bucks.the guy narrates through the park.best 5 bucks we spent.

Honestly after going to Yellowstone,tetons and rocky mtn national park were underwhelming.now going there 1st then to Yellowstone would be ideal.kind of like your 1st girlfriend being the prom queen and then you marry the flute player in the band.
 
Feb 25, 2008
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#5
We went to Mt. Rushmore 15 or so years ago when my kids were young.
Toured Bethlehem Cave - the 6 of us had a private tour and greatly enjoyed it.
Did a "mammoth dig" that was fun for the young kids.
President's Slide is like an old water slide but you go down on a sled. Great fun. After riding double with my 6 (or so) year old girl I let her ride alone and greatly enjoyed it.
Drive through bear (and other animals park).
Rapid City has a bunch of President Statues that my family saw as I was getting our van fixed.
Also had a "gold panning" tour - It was OK, hopefully the kids enjoyed it more than I did.

And if you do Mt. Rushmore for the sunrise spectacular, check the weather forecast before you get 4 kids up early 2 days in a row because the first day was too cloudy to see the sun.
 
Oct 16, 2003
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#6
Thanks for the information. I will definitely be on the lookout for Colorado peaches. Would it be "worth it" to go to Sturgis a week earlier than the Sturgis Run?
 
Feb 7, 2011
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#7
Wind Cave is very close to Mount Rushmore. It is a fascinating cave even if you have very little interest in caves.

If you are driving east to west as you go to Mount Rushmore you can drive through the Badlands.
In Cody Wyoming there is an excellent museum that preserves American Indian and western history.

If you are in Yellowstone long enough you will certainly see Old Faithful. There is a short hike to an overlook to see the geyser from a different perspective. It is well worth the hike.

I would encourage you to buy the Trails Illustrated maps of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. If you hike the maps are very beneficial. Specifically if you take the boat ride across Lake Jenny in the Grand Tetons the hikes to the waterfalls are great.
 

osupsycho

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Personally I have always wanted to go to Rocky Ford, CO during their harvest time and you will be close. I always end up driving through to early. If you head west out of Pueblo you will hit Rocky Ford and can go on to Garden City or Dodge City for an overnight stop (what we usually do). If you have not been to Dodge City it is interesting to visit boot hill, especially for kids. In CO I would also highly recommend stopping and getting pizza and beer at Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub in Salida, CO. Its my absolute favorite pizza place and would be on your way back from most places in western CO when heading home.
 
Aug 16, 2012
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#10
Thanks for the information. I will definitely be on the lookout for Colorado peaches. Would it be "worth it" to go to Sturgis a week earlier than the Sturgis Run?
Still going to be crowded with thousands of bikers will still be there, it is just not the official Run event. You did not mention how you are getting around. If relying on hotels, this time of year in and around Sturgis is almost impossible to find accommodations if you have not done so already. Restaurants are packed, streets are packed, but it is a sight to behold and experience at least once.
 

llcoolw

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#11
Personally I have always wanted to go to Rocky Ford, CO during their harvest time and you will be close. I always end up driving through to early. If you head west out of Pueblo you will hit Rocky Ford and can go on to Garden City or Dodge City for an overnight stop (what we usually do). If you have not been to Dodge City it is interesting to visit boot hill, especially for kids. In CO I would also highly recommend stopping and getting pizza and beer at Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub in Salida, CO. Its my absolute favorite pizza place and would be on your way back from most places in western CO when heading home.
What happens at harvest time there?
 

osupsycho

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What happens at harvest time there?
You can get some of the best melons you have ever tasted. That and lots of other produce at a bunch of farmers markets/stands. I used to work a produce stand in OKC and the owner would drive to Rocky Ford and bring back a trailer load of produce to sell and he made a LOT of money due to the quality of the produce, mainly from there.
 

llcoolw

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#14
Rocky Ford and surrounding areas are well known for their produce.
You can get some of the best melons you have ever tasted. That and lots of other produce at a bunch of farmers markets/stands. I used to work a produce stand in OKC and the owner would drive to Rocky Ford and bring back a trailer load of produce to sell and he made a LOT of money due to the quality of the produce, mainly from there.
I thought maybe (hopefully) there was a wink wink special harvest. Still, one wink is pretty good.
 

osupsycho

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I thought maybe (hopefully) there was a wink wink special harvest. Still, one wink is pretty good.
No for that kind of harvest you are better off in the Trinidad or Pueblo area, and timing does not matter as the growing is done indoors in grow houses.
 

llcoolw

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#16
No for that kind of harvest you are better off in the Trinidad or Pueblo area, and timing does not matter as the growing is done indoors in grow houses.
Yea wasn't trying to derail thread. I've been taking small trips lately to exercise my Washington, Colorado, Nevada and DC state rights with some of the locals. My mind went elsewhere when I saw a harvest festival in Colorado.