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  1. #1
    jerseyprincess Guest

    Default North & South Dakota

    Hi, I'm planning a trip to visit North and South Dakota. In SD I want to visit Mt Rushmore, the Badlands, Black Hills and Sturgis (if the trip actually takes place in the summer). I'm planning on visiting the Theodore Roosevelt NP in ND.
    Any suggestions for other fun/interesting stuff to do in that area of ND or on the way to SD? Also, for someone who has visited these states before, do you think a different time of year would bring a better aspect to the trip. I was only going in the summer to see the bike rally, but it isn't end of the world for me not to see it.
    I'm REALLY stuck for anything else to do in ND.

    Any advice/suggestions?

    Thanks! ~~Leane

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default summer

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Well, I would recommend summer as a good time to take this trip, but the Sturgis rally would only be a relatively small window. The rally takes place in early August.

    Having said that, unless you have a very strong desire to spend time at the Rally, I'd recommend going almost any other week. The rally brings hundreds of thousands of people to the area, and that means everything will be very crowded and things like lodging will be hard to find and expensive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    You have the centre of the US at Belle Fourche SD... though the true spot is some 20 miles out of town. At Rugby ND is the centre of the North American Continent.

    Recently I drove the full length of highway 2 across ND. This is a good road with many spots which are very scenic and interesting. All along this highway are small towns, each with its own individual character. In particular around Williston, Devils Lake and Fort Totten.

    Lifey who loved the Dakotas

  4. #4

    Default North Dakota; Sturgis rally

    Hello Princess,

    In addition to the sights publicly described in the NPS literature, be aware western North Dakota is world-class dinosaur fossil territory. There are academic exercises involving fossil-hunting and excavation which accept fee-paid students.

    The drive south along public roads from Medora to Marmarth is remote and scenic and takes you past Pretty Butte, where legend has it Teddy Roosevelt killed his first buffalo. Near Pretty Butte the road also passes within sight of the Little Missouri River, described by the locals as "too thin to plow, too thick to drink". Warning: you must avoid this backcountry road trip when the roads are wet. Badlands roads such as those along the ND-MT border can become impassible when wet.

    As to Sturgis, that seems to me to be a mission unto itself. You'll be ensnarled in Sturgis traffic all the way out there and all the way back, particularly within 500 miles or so in any direction. If dealing with that is part of the appeal to see the Rally, there you have it. I mention it simply to say the matter is not as simple as going to Sturgis, seeing the Rally, and then leaving and losing contact with the phenomenon.

    Enjoy planning and taking your RoadTrip!

    Foy

  5. #5
    jerseyprincess Guest

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the info. I'm just going to forget about Sturgis. It will be too busy just to 'visit'. Also, I didn't know about Rugby being the center point of North America. Sounds like a photo opportunity! And thank you for the information about the back roads in ND. With my luck, I would have went down the 'beaten path' and gotten stuck!

  6. #6

    Default Recent improvements?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerseyprincess View Post
    Thanks for the info. I'm just going to forget about Sturgis. It will be too busy just to 'visit'. Also, I didn't know about Rugby being the center point of North America. Sounds like a photo opportunity! And thank you for the information about the back roads in ND. With my luck, I would have went down the 'beaten path' and gotten stuck!
    Princess,
    Following my post, I did some armchair RoadTripping related to dinosaur excavation trips in the Marmarth, ND area, as a 1975 expedition for that purpose first brought me to that area (and first marooned our party of +30 people for days when a series of heavy thunderstorms made the road impassible). It appears that within Slope County, there has been some improvement to Route 16, the road which squeezes between Pretty Butte and the Little Missouri River. When I was there in 1975 and again in 1982 and 2002, there was scant gravel over the graded but natural surface. Now it appears that scoria, a form of aggregate, covers some of the roadway, perhaps all of it, making travel possible even when wet. Some communications with the good folks in Slope County and in the Medora area (in the next county north) would seem wise prior to setting sail, but otherwise fears of a complete stranding seem to have been abated.

    Oh, and one can visit the famous "burning coal vein" just to the east of Route 16, and nearby also lies White Butte, the highest point in North Dakota. Talk about a couple of obscure photo-ops!

    Foy

  7. #7
    jerseyprincess Guest

    Default fossils

    Thank you for the update, Foy.

    I am also going to look into some dinosaur fossil stuff while there. (Not sure what yet, but I'll find something! :o)

  8. #8
    jerseyprincess Guest

    Default mt rushmore

    Also, I've heard a few times on here that I should NOT pay to go into the park to see Mt Rushmore? Is this true? I've been told you can see it on "side" roads just as well and get nice pictures. (That's really all I'm looking for with it. I dont want to spend all this money to get in for something I could get for free or close to it.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default not really

    Here's the thing with Mount Rushmore, technically, there is no admission fee to get in (it isn't covered by the national parks pass for this reason).

    However, there is a fee to park in the parking ramp. The parking ramp really is the only place where you can stop, without a rather significant walk. And while you can see the carving from the road, there really is no place on the road to stop. You're dealing with a 2 lane mountain road that has a fair amount of traffic, and parking along the road is not safe or legal.

    On the positive side, the parking fee is only $10, so you're not talking about a large amount of money here. I wish they would just call it an admission fee and be honest about it, but the actual price itself is really quite reasonable.

  10. #10
    jerseyprincess Guest

    Default fee

    That's not bad at all! I would rather pay ten bucks than perform some death mission on the side of a mountain.
    I decided to see Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse and I came across a 'scenic drives and byways' site for the Black Hills. (Peter Norbeck, Spearfish Canyon, Hwy 385, Hwy 240 & Hwy 44.)

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