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  1. Default Last second trip to Yellowstone from Central Illinois with three kids...

    We are trying to last second plan a trip to Yellow Stone from Bloomington, IL stopping for 1-2 days in the Mount Rushmore area. We are leaving Friday 7-27-12 and needing to be home on Sunday 8-5-12. We have three kids ages 13, 11, and 10. Any ideas of great attractions and or places to stay would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Troy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm a bit concerned about your timeline. Its a solid 3 days each way from Illinois to Yellowstone, add in a day or two at Mount Rushmore, and that doesn't leave hardly any time left for Yellowstone itself.

    Heading out through South Dakota has lots of potential stops, like the Corn Palace, The Lewis and Clark Museum at the Missouri River crossing of I-90, and the Badlands. Once you're in the Black Hills, there's much more than just Rushmore. Custer State Park, and its wildlife loop road is a great family trip, and you've also got Jewel and Wind Caves, just to name a few of the possibilities.

    You might also look at stopping at Little Bighorn Battlefield and entering Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway.

    Once in Yellowstone, and also the Tetons, there's lots to do, but if you're up for a day outside the parks, you could look at Whitewater Rafting, with several outfitters north of the park in Gardiner, as well as several more near the Tetons in Jackson.

  3. #3


    You are totally correct Midwest Michael,
    Several years ago , we also took a similar trip from Chicago with about 10 days.
    It was doable and we have valuable memories of the trip itself, but it did not allow for any time besides driving and taking pictures. We were so tired every night and had trouble finding hotels. We did not hike in Yellowstone nor Grand Tetons, no rafting, no cowboy hayrides :(

    My advise (learned the hard way) would be to take an extra 4-5 days since you will be spending all that money and gas anyway. Don't miss the items that MM mentioned above, plus Crazy Horse Monument, Rapid City Drive thru Zoo, Devil's Tower, Grand Tetons hikes, wildlife reserve, Jackson, WY, a nice Dude ranch evening ride and cowboy dinner .

    This year we will be going to Glacier, but we will stay 10 full days in the Columbia Falls area and take daytrips from our rented Cabin.

    Good Luck

  4. #4

    Default Stay south of Rapid City on the return trip

    Hi Troy,

    With time of the essence, think carefully about the return trip route. The annual Sturgis (SD) Bike Rally has official dates of August 6-12, and my experience says the region will begin to fill up with attendees for at least a few days before the 6th. That said, getting your I-90, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, etc stops done on the way out, and swinging low, say, down to Casper, then picking up I-80 for your return will be a good idea. Sturgis draws about 250,000 and a goodly portion come in from the East and Midwest, right along I-90, but those coming in from the Pacific Northwest will be crowding all facilities on I-90 from Seattle to Rapid City during the days including your departure. You can expect jam-packed travel plazas, rest areas, restaurants, etc well east and southeast of Sturgis in the days preceding the 6th, too.

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-12-2012 at 06:26 AM. Reason: Fixed Sturgis Date (August, not June)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    With what Foy has pointed out, it would be a very good idea to do your sightseeing on the way out to Yellowstone and then hightail it home. Finish up your Yellowstone sightseeing through the south entrance, go through the Tetons to Jackson, then take US-189/US-191 to Rock Springs to pick up I-80. My software shows it's about 1360 miles from Jackson to Bloomington, which is a 2.5 day drive. Reasonable overnights would be Rock Springs and Grand Island NE.

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