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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Posts
    7

    Default Driving to Mt. Rushmore from Salt Lake City

    I've always wanted to see Mount Rushmore so my husband and I are planning a road trip from Salt Lake City with our two year old and seven year old daughters. Our thought is to go over the July 4th holiday since my husband has two days of paid vacation. We'd probably leave on Tuesday the 3rd and be home by Sunday the 8th. Any suggestions on a fun and unique travel route? I've thought about traveling up to Yellowstone, but after that, I don't know the area to the East. Also, does anyone know of any 4th of July celebrations (fireworks, parade, etc.) in any town along the way? We're looking into camping also instead of motels. Any suggestions as to where to stay?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Through the Great Divide Basin

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You know, I'd have to think long and hard before I went into Yellowstone on or near the 4th of July weekend, especially if I lived as close as SLC. You can get there in a day and fall is a much better time to see the park. Then the kids can see the geysers and animals and not just endless lines of traffic and crowds. But I digress.

    The most direct way from SLC to Rapid City involves taking I-80 east to Rawlins, using US-287 and WY-220 to cut north to I-25 at Casper and finally I-90 east. But you're looking for something a bit more 'fun and unique'. So let's look at some options. You could head east from SLC on US-40 to Vernal, UT and a visit to Dinosaur National Monument, then taking US-191, UT-44 and WY-530 north through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area before reconnecting with I-80. Then north of Casper, you can take another 'shortcut' and leave I-25 on WY-387 and WY-450 through Thunder Basin National Grassland to New Castle, WY. US-16 would then take you into Rapid City.

    While in the Rapid City area, be sure to also check out Devils Tower National Monument, Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave National Park. As far as parades and fireworks shows, I've had my best experiences at those put on by small town fire departments, so I'd suggest that as you drive towards Rapid City on your second day (the 4th), just keep an eye out for posters and flyers in the towns you drive through. Some of the bigger displays may publicize their dates and times on the state's tourism or calendar of events web pages.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Posts
    7

    Default Rethinking Yellowstone

    Thanks for the info. We'll have to rethink Yellowstone. I've been there a few times, but my husband has not. I'd really like him to see the Tetons. Maybe we can plan a trip for the fall, or next year. We use most of his paid vacation time at Lake Powell so we have to do short road trips or go when he has a paid holiday (which he has two days paid for the 4th of July holiday). Do you have any suggestions as to where to stop for the night on July 3rd if we go the route you suggested? It doesn't have to be a campground since setting up a tent in the dark is not fun (and I'm sure it will be late when we get to wherever we are going to stay).

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Rawlins

    If you go the way I suggested, Rawlins is a little less than half way, and would still allow you to have some time to visit either Dinosaur National Monument or Flaming Gorge. It is also the last sizeable town before crossing a fair amount of sparsely inhabited country through the Great Divide Basin. It has a mix of motels and commercial campgrounds, so you should be able to find accommodations suitable to whatever time you arrive.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Posts
    7

    Default New Plans

    So we decided to leave June 30th and drive home July 5th now (we may stay longer if we're having fun). I found out that Mt. Rushmore has fireworks on the 3rd. That sounds like a neat experience. I just booked last night into the KOA in Hill City, SD. Looks like a fun place, especially with kids. We also booked a Kosy Kabin (just a cabin with electricity and beds--nothing else). The tent sites are already full (start booking now for the 4th holiday anywhere you are going if you haven't already). I'll have to let everyone know of the experience there.This KOA has tons of amenities for cheaper than a motel.

    Thanks for your wealth of information!

    Slonni

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
    Posts
    23

    Default

    I did this trip last June but in reverse, from Mt. Rushmore to SLC. I hope you realize that Mt. Rushmore is going to be packed that weekend! When I was there, they had a lot of information about the fact that the country's largest 4th of July celebration occurs there, even larger than anything in Boston or DC. So just be prepared for crowds!

    I agree with the previous poster regarding Devil's Tower and Dinosaur National Monument, I really enjoyed both of those. Also, I recommend visiting Custer State Park. Even though it is a state park, it is more on par with parks at the national level. Lots of chances to see buffalo and prairie dogs, plus it has a fantastic restaurant, the Diner at the Blue Bell Lodge. The Blue Bell also does hayrides, as I saw one going out while we were eating, but I don't have any info about them other than they give you your own cowboy hats to wear! The are also two *very* scenic roads in the area I recommend: the Iron Mountain Road with its pigtail bridges and the tunnel view of Mt. Rushmore, and the Needles Highway, with its amazing rock formations.

    If you have some extra time, I would also take the time to visit the Crazy Horse memorial and the Little Bighorn Battlefield site, especially if you have any history buffs in the family.

    South Dakota was so friendly! I was taken aback again and again by how darn nice everyone was that I ran into, from men that still hold doors, to strangers giving great directions and tips on things to see, I had a fantastic time there. I am sure you will too!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Posts
    7

    Default I know, I know

    I know it will be crowded (call us crazy). Normally I stay away from crowds, but the time period worked for us. We're doing this more for family time than anything (so if we only stay at the KOA and play, that's okay). Normally, when we go anywhere on a trip it's with someone else. I've always wanted to do a roadtrip just with our little family, so my girls have some fond memories (even though the two year old won't remember much). My father passed away two years ago last week and my fondest memory with him was going on "mini" roadtrips. We didn't have a lot of money growing up (and there were twelve kids in the family) so day trips were all we could take. But the memories are priceless to me.

    The KOA where we are staying has a shuttle service to the park so I hope that will take care of parking problems for the fireworks. Also, hopefully, since we're leaving earlier now, the area won't be as crowded until closer to the
    4th. Maybe we'll have a few days of lesser crowds?? What do you think?

    Thanks for the advice on where to stop. We're pretty open on both ends of traveling as to where to stay for the night so we can go with our whims (and suggestions).

    Slonni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default I agree -- those memories are a key reason

    Quote Originally Posted by slonni View Post
    I know it will be crowded (call us crazy).
    Some of my best memories deal with the family roadtrips when I was little too. Getting out there is important -- it doesn't really matter where you go or what you see or how long you have -- doing it is what counts.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Posts
    7

    Default I feel the same way!

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    Some of my best memories deal with the family roadtrips when I was little too. Getting out there is important -- it doesn't really matter where you go or what you see or how long you have -- doing it is what counts.

    Mark
    Thanks! I feel better for taking my family "to the crowds". My 7 year old is already so excited to be going somewhere with just our family. She is already marking the calendar!

  10. Default

    I also went to see Mt Rushmore with my two girls 10,12
    I must say that it was one of the worst trips ever.I think if you look at the post card it is much better than the real thing.It was crowded,hot and BORING!~The little town there was hookey pokie and I couldnt wait to leave.
    Sorry for the bad news... Oh...Yellowstone was wonderful!
    :) Cheers

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