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  1. Default Seattle to Minneapolis, 3 teenagers, young to old, 9 days

    I have been to Tetons and Yellowstone. I have 9 days to get to Minneapolis, and I scheduled 3 nights in Custer, SD.

    I don't like driving more than 5 hours a day, but I will if I have to, especially if I can break up the day with a couple of cool stops. Yes, now I have 3 drivers, but that doesn't mean we like being in the car...

    I'd like to stop somewhere wonderful in Idaho for one night then push on to somewhere great in Montana for one night, then on to Badlands and finish in Minneapolis.

    So:
    • Where should I stop in Idaho? I am trying Coeur D'Alene but all the good hotels don't seem to have space for the 5 of us (including 3 young to old teenagers).

    • Where should I stop in Montana? Do I need more than one stop given my wish to limit driving?

    • Any tips for Badlands?
    o Also, is there a way to truly be impressed by Mt Rushmore without entering the den of crass that I've heard described by some in the National Park?
    • Family is National Treasure movie fans. Husband wants to go to "Cibola". Is that possible??

    • Do you think I can reasonably make it all the way from Custer or Mt Rushmore to Minneapolis in one day?

    • Where might I stop after Custer/Mt Rushmore before Minneapolis for one night, if necessary?


    Before writing, I did try to do much research. Thank you!!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-16-2013 at 10:44 PM. Reason: Removed colored fonts

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    1. Coeur D'Alene is really your best choice along I-90 in Idaho. The only other lodging is in Kellogg and Wallace, both very small towns. You may want to look in Spokane.

    2. Via I-90, it's about 550 miles across Montana (from the ID line to the WY line) so you are looking at a stop. Bozeman is about 300 miles from ID and Billings is about 450.

    3. Plan on at least half a day, if not a whole day.

    4. Haven't been there in over 25 years, but I don't remember any "crass".

    5. Cibola does not exist, but there are caves near Mount Rushmore that have tours. You can't go under Mount Rushmore, that's not open to the public.

    6. Nope, that's almost 700 miles, and the Badlands are east of Custer/Rushmore.

    7. You may want to look at Sioux Falls.

    NOTE that if you only want to drive 5 hours a day, that's only about 300 miles.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Plenty of Time, But None to Spare

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Normally, nine days is more than enough time to get from Seattle to Minneapolis. But with your plan to spend two days in Custer, and your desire to limit your driving to five hours a day, your route and overnight stops are pretty well set before you start. You've got to essentially stick to I-90 all the way to Worthington MN and then take MN-60/US-169 up to Minneapolis. Overnight stops will be Coeur d'Alene ID, Bozeman MT, Broadus MT, Custer, and Mitchell SD.

    If the hotels and motels in Coeur d'Alene are all booked, try renting a house (!!?!) for the night through airbnb or similar sites.

    Mount Rushmore, like many tourist sites, is what you make of it. Unlike many national parks, there is no entrance fee. But also unlike most national parks, there is a hefty ($11) 'parking' fee. Still, roughly $2.20 a head seems a small price to pay to cross such an iconic landmark off your To Do list. It is also true, however, that there's not much to do there other than see and photograph the sculptures that you can't do just as well elsewhere.

    The Cibola referred to in National Treasure is the legendary Seven Cities of Gold, usually taken to mean Quivira in central Kansas (or variously in Arizona or New Mexico - it's a legend after all). None of the possible site for 'Cibola' are anywhere near your route.

    Even if you weren't limiting yourself to five hours a day, it's still a good 620 miles from Custer to Minneapolis. That's far more than we would recommend for a hard day's drive, especially at the end of a long RoadTrip. Plan on spending the night in Mitchell as suggested above.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Also, is there a way to truly be impressed by Mt Rushmore without entering the den of crass that I've heard described by some in the National Park?
    I have to also wonder where on earth you've gotten that description of the Mt. Rushmore National Monument? I've never heard anything like that before. The only real complaint I can think of - and it is one that is justifiable in my book - is about the fee that Buck mentioned. The monument is "free," but the only way you can really see it is by paying to park, which isn't even covered by the NPS annual pass. I find it annoying and it just leaves a bad taste, that really would be avoided if they simply said admission was $11 per car.

    I will also say that in addition to the monument, there is also a nice museum about the history and creation of Rushmore. Its not huge by any means, and even with that, you don't need to plan more than a couple hours here.

    If you really want to avoid the actual monument complex, the best place to get views of Rushmore is from Iron Mountain Road, which is a great scenic drive between Keystone and Custer State Park that you should check out regardless.
    all the good hotels don't seem to have space for the 5 of us (including 3 young to old teenagers).
    I'm a bit curious as to what exactly you are looking for in terms of a room. 5 is always a tough number, as 2 double beds is usually about as big as a non-suite hotel will offer. That means you either have to be looking for 2 rooms, or have someone on a roll-away or the floor.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    More than 4 people in a hotel room is often not allowed due to fire codes. Try this site for your research. It shows 2 hotels in CDA and 2 between CDA and Spokane.

  6. Default

    Thanks guys!
    Here is what I’m thinking:

    Leave Seattle WA
    Coeur dAlene, ID for 1 night
    Missoula MT for lunch
    Bozeman, MT to look around
    Livingston MT for 1 night (and look around?)
    Broadus MT for 1 night?
    On to Custer SD, stop at Crazy Horse for afternoon
    Stay in Custer SD 1st night
    Custer State Park—most of the day
    Mount Rushmore in afternoon?
    Stay in Custer SD 2nd night
    On to Badlands
    Spend day at Badlands, including night sky tour on weekend evening
    Spend 1 night at Badlands lodging
    Head out to Mitchell or Sioux City SD to spend 1 night
    End in Minneapolis

    To ignorant me, it looks like I have 2 extra nights to play with the 9 I’ve allotted.
    I feel like I missed good stuff in Montana, or maybe I’m not being realistic re how I’ve played this out.
    Husband is considering skipping Broadus and heading for Custer, so that would give me a 3rd extra night.

    Other notes:
    • While I am trying the useful link sent by poster glc, I’m bringing a travel cot, toted in a golf bag, to use at the hotels that hear me say that I am a party of 5 people, but book me anyway.
    • I read negative postings on tripadvisor that described a private concessionaire company that built ugly buildings with kitschy tourist shops to block the view of the Mt. Rushmore sculpture from the road so as to ensure the purchase of the parking pass. There were many more positive reviews than negative, but the negative gave me pause.

    Here are my questions. Basically, where should I spend the extra 2 nights?
    1. What do you recommend in Montana? Or where would you refer me to research?
    2. Should I allot more time in South Dakota? How?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    With the extra time you've got available, have you considered a detour to Yellowstone? Even if you only checked out the northern park of the park, and then departed via the Beartooth Highway, it could be worth consideration.

    Either way, I'd also look at stopping at the Little Bighorn Battlefield and Devils Tower. Jewel or Wind Caves are also worthwhile stops to add to your time in the Black Hills.

    Between the Badlands, and Minneapolis, I think you'll find Sioux Falls may be a better overnight stop than Mitchell, as it is closer to halfway and a bit more to do if you want to do a little exploring.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,546

    Default

    If you are planning to stay at Cedar Pass Lodge in Badlands, you should have reservations NOW. In most popular national parks, the lodges and hotels fill fast. Perhaps, if full, you may get in on a cancellation, but always have a backup plan if possible.

    In the Rapid City area, there is Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument. In Montana, there's Missouri Headwaters State Park. It's where the Missouri River begins, and a Lewis and Clark landmark. It's near Three Forks, MT, which is right along I-90. There are two other national historic spots along I-90: Nez Perce National Historial Park outside of Billings, and Little Bighorn. Your teens may recognize those from history class. Further west in MT, though, is Rattlesnake National Recreation Area.

    You might also ask your teenagers what they'd like to do.


    Donna

  9. Default

    Given the timing of my now scheduled hotel stops along the end of the route, I think I need a great suggestion for stops between Missoula and Custer.

    Which is better: Butte, Bozeman, Livingston, or Billings?

    There seems more to do if I overnight in Butte so I can spend time between and including Missoula & Butte, and then onto the next leg including Livingston. I think I like Livingston for an overnight but going straight from Idaho seems to require my missing some good stuff on the way there, so I might stay there too, even though that's a brief ride.

    I don't think I'd want to stop overnight in Billings. Some people said it wasn't such a great town. Plus, I saw described casinos near the good hotels in Billings and that's not my cup of tea.

    What do you think?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by momof3east View Post
    Given the timing of my now scheduled hotel stops along the end of the route, I think I need a great suggestion for stops between Missoula and Custer.

    Which is better: Butte, Bozeman, Livingston, or Billings?
    I'm not understanding your current plans enough to help. It sounds like you're not looking for a place to stop for the night, between already planned overnights in Missoula and Custer. If that's the case, then Billings is the only one that would make sense based on your goal of driving 5 hours a day. Any of the other cities you mentioned are going to be at least 7-8 hours from Custer.

    Pretty much every bar in Montana is a "casino" because the state allows video poker. The same is also true in South Dakota. I'm not aware of any Vegas-style casino in Billings.

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