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  1. Default Yellowstone or Black Hills area

    I have a question that I really need some help with. I am trying to get some advice on two vacation spots. I am planning a trip from the Minnesota area to either Yellowstone or the Black Hills area for the 2nd or 3rd week of June. I have done too much research I think. It'll be my hubby, 16yo son and 15yo daughter. It'll be our first vacation in years, and first road trip since they were 10ish. My husband is dreading going with the kids almost as much as they say they are, but I am determined. I had it planned last year for Yellowstone, then hurt my back and had to canel. Anyways, I am trying to find something that will make everyone a little happier. My kids obviously would love a TV, pool, and wireless, not important to me at all. This sounds kinda corny, but I need cooler temperatures. I am on medications for seizures and don't sweat. I want to do some hiking and I love history, as does my son. BUT the temps are the main thing for me. The Black Hills look more interesting for the kids, but a little warmer.

    If anyone has advice or experience, please clue me in!

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

    Default kicking and screaming?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The weather from Yellowstone and the Black Hills should be pretty similar. Both places have average highs in the 70's, but can see warmer temps.

    I would say based on your post that the Black Hills would be a better option. It sounds like you only have a week, and if you've already got 3/4 of your group dreading the trip before you go, then Yellowstone may be a bit far anyway. You really need 2 full days to drive out there, but you could get western SD in one long day. That means more time having fun, and less time getting there.

  3. Default More time

    I have no problem taking more time, but as I said weather is more important. I really appreciate your advice. I do think once we are on the way, they will be fine. My kids area always like this. Even watching a movie, they complain like crazy, but enjoy it once we get started:-)


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Start Early and Stop Often

    One thing we tend to forget is the different perspective adults and teenagers bring to a trip. Adults have no problem understanding that it might take a day's (boring) drive to get to someplace exciting. Teenagers only see the boring. So look at what's available for quick stops along the way as well as at your destination. Certainly there are scenic and restful spots all along I-90where you can take a couple of well timed and moderately long breaks during your travel days. And at over 600 miles between Minneapolis and Rapid City, two days to make the transit would not be out of line. Trying to do it in one is just going to make it seem more like work than an adventure. Besides the sights in the link above, there are also a number of small historic locations that you and your son might like to look into including Jeffers Petroglyphs, the Corn Palace, the Akta Lakota Museum and others. Better yet, let each of your kids research and choose one stop for each day. Then while in the Black Hills, see more than just Mt. Rushmore. There's also the Badlands, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave, Devils Tower, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. All of which can be done as day trips from a base in the Rapid City/Sturgis/Spearfish area.


  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    One thing we tend to forget is the different perspective adults and teenagers bring to a trip. Adults have no problem understanding that it might take a day's (boring) drive to get to someplace exciting. Teenagers only see the boring.
    I was going to say pretty much the same thing. I'll tell a family travel story that I remember with shame: When we were teens, someone my parents knew invited us -- and a bunch of other people -- to go on a long weekend to a beach house. I was, I think, a senior in high school, and I was not thrilled with the idea of going. My brother and I were -- by far -- the oldest children in the group, and it was automatically assumed that we wouldn't mind babysitting all the younger kids. It was assumed that we wouldn't mind sleeping on the floor in the basement -- again, with the younger kids piled high on top of us. In addition to no privacy, it was a very rural beach (the kind of place I love now) with no pool, no shops, no restaurants, nothing but the beach itself. You get the point.

    Now here's the embarassing part: I took it out on my family. I made it very clear that I was being imposed upon by being forced to go on the trip. I was completely aware that I was being an ungrateful little you-know-what, but I figured I had every right to do it because my mom MADE ME go on that trip. I had asked to bring a friend and was told no, but then some of the other kids brought friends. I figured I'd been mistreated. I can't believe my mom didn't slap me silly. I deserved it.

    In retrospect, both my mom and I could've done better to make that trip more family-friendly. She could've taken a moment to consider what we kids would enjoy; on the other hand, I could've been more appreciative.

    Now that I have teens myself, I do try to take their wishes into consideration when we travel. We try to get separate sleeping spaces, a bigger car, an extra bathrooom -- when possible -- because extra space makes things easier for us all. We try to include them in choices of hotels, activities and restaurants. We let them help buy groceries and cook (okay, we MAKE THEM do that -- we MAKE THEM clean too because we're horrible parents). We let them watch stupid movies for part of the trip and don't complain if they don't appreciate nature, museums, and cultural events as much as WE THINK they should. In addition to visiting Civil War battle sites, we hit a few water parks. We eat at McDonald's because they like it. We make a point of letting them pick a new CD, a new book, or whatever'll make the road-hours pass more quickly.

    I'm glad to say that my girls've grown up much more appreciative than I was as a teen (though honestly, I think I've done better for them than my mom did for me). They LOVE to travel, and they really do have a give-a-little-get-a-little philosophy when it comes to trying to keep everyone happy on a trip. For example, we're looking forward to a trip through the western national parks next summer, and they weren't particularly thrilled when their dad said he particularly wants to see the Colorado Rockies play, and he wants to tour Coors Stadium -- but they understand that he's letting them stay at an expensive hotel with a great pool in Vegas, and he's buying them tickets to Ka! They don't expect to get everything, but they understand that SOME of their wants are being addressed.

    Just before our last trip last summer, I was especially proud of my two girls: We were at the mall picking up a few things we needed. We split up for a bit, and when we met back, the girls had bought me a novel I'd mentioned wanting to read and they'd bought their dad a magazine he enjoys! They know that's something I do for them before trips, and they were thoughtful enough to do the same small favor for the two of us. I have good girls. I made a point of reading that novel in front of them so they'd know how much I appreciated it.

    I'd suggest that you ask each family member for his or her TOP TWO vacation requests, then try to do your best to meet them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Black Hills

    The weather there is a little trickey sometimes, so it will be good to check it out before you head out of the air conditioning each morning. I was there in June 2007. On the first day it was 110 on the second day it was 65 and yes I did wind up with a raging sinus induced migraine, but the beauty of the area more than made up for it.

    In addition to what AZBuck suggested I'm going to add Wall Drug, Bad Lands National Park (great driving tour from the comfort of you air conditioned car) and The National Museum of Woodcarving. I stayed in Custer, SD which turned out to be a good place to stop since it was in the middle of all the attractions.

    One word of advice. Get your tickets for the Wind Cave and the Jewel Cave in advance because those tickets sell out fast in the summer and are of limited quantity. A couple from California and I managed to snag the last few tickets for our day and we had arrived at the caves about 30 minutes before the shop doors opened.

    Just in case you're interested here is a link to my story of that trip. I started in Louisiana and made my way to Minnesota before turning west towards South Dakota.

    Happy Planning! It sounds like a fun trip. I would love to visit that area of the country again.

  7. Default We're going to Yellowstone!

    I was trying to decide between SD and Yellowstone and we decided on Yellowstone. It will be my family's first road trip in quite a while. It will be myself, hubby, and 15yo daughter, and almost 17yo son. Where does the time go. We live in MN and typically roadtrip back to Ohio to visit family. And we drive straight through, over 14 hours. That's what my husband wants to do with Yellowstone. Leave at 6pm, arrive sometime the next morning. Of course, the kids and I will be waking up to enjoy the Bear Tooth Highway. We'll be going up through ND, so other than Devil's Tower, it'll be a boring drive for my husband. Actually the kids will probably be up with him most of the night. Any advice? Opinions?

    Also, I have us booked for the Alpine Inn, but we need to add a few nights. THE most important things to us are cleanliness, quiet rooms, comfy beds, and a TV for the kids. Any advice on other places that might meet my requirements? Sorry for my rambling, but I am SO excited.

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-20-2009 at 03:12 PM. Reason: Merged with original thread about this trip

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default damn the torpedos

    Any advice? Opinions?
    Honestly, it sounds like you've got the perfect recipe for a "We're going to have fun, or else..." trip.

    First of all, Yellowstone is about 40% farther away than Ohio and you're looking at a trip thats going to take at least 18 hours. If you leave at 6pm, you won't be getting there until the next afternoon. It sounds like your husband would be doing all the driving, which is, simply put, extremely dangerous and reckless. There simply is no way for a person to maintain the level of concentration needed to drive that many hours in one sitting, throw in the fact that its unlikely that he is used to be up all night long, and that I assume he won't simply be sleeping all afternoon before you leave to prepare for this trip, and you've got a recipe that puts the lives of your family and everyone else on the road in danger.

    I'll also say that there is a big difference between traveling with teens and young kids. As you even mentioned yourself, its entirely possible that your kids will be staying up well into the night for much of the trip. So not only will they miss out on seeing anything between points a and points b, but they also won't be getting much sleep. That means everyone will be overtired and cranky to start out your 'wonderful adventure' in Yellowstone.

    I guess I could also mention here that Devils Tower is located near I-90, but if you take I-94 you wouldn't be going near it. You would however be zipping by the amazing Northern Badlands/Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

    THE most important things to us are cleanliness, quiet rooms, comfy beds, and a TV for the kids.
    Certainly there are plenty of motel review sites, like trip advisor, where you can get opinions about individual motel rooms. Having said that, when you indicate that TV is a priority for the kids when you are traveling to Yellowstone National Park, and throw in the other indications of how you are planning this trip (you even said before that your kids were more interested in the black hills), I have a strong feeling that your kids haven't had much input on the planning of this trip. If you ask me, the perfect recipe for having a lousy family vacation is to plan a trip where the parents are telling the kids what is going to be done and what is going to be fun. I can almost guarentee, that if you don't keep your kids very involved in the planning of this trip, then they won't have anything invested in the trip, and teens being teens, watching tv will probably be the most important part of the trip to them.

    -and now that I look back on the previous advice you've been given, I see I'm not the only who has this feeling.

    While this isn't the most positive advice in the world, I think there are lots of things you could do to make this a fun trip for you and your family, I just don't think you are heading in the right direction at this point.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I got rid of my macho drive straight through attitude years ago, and I also would welcome someone (you, the oldest kid) to share the driving. In the eyes of the kids (and possibly you too), this trip is going to be torture. There's so much to see between MN and Yellowstone, and you will just be blowing by it all in the dark. Not wise. You need to maintain your normal schedule - ALL of you - which should be wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. Break it up into 2 days each way, you won't miss the 2 extra days in Yellowstone because you would all be zombies the first day anyway. Leaving for a trip at 6pm is crazy too, wait till morning.

    I'm not trying to start a family battle here, but in my eyes, your husband is using very poor judgment.

  10. Default

    My husband is actually the only one who can drive, as I lost my licsense recently due to my seizures acting up. My son is taking his driving test in May, but I'm not sure we want him driving out there yet. I really do appreciate all of the advice and I have take it all in. After, talking with my family we decided on Yellowstone. We had planned on Yellowstone last year, but I hurt my back and the trip got cancelled. So both the kids told me to plan another trip there.

    As for trying to keep them involved in the planning, I have tried and tried. They keep telling me to plan what I want to do and they will do it. They are both in a college prepatory school so maybe they are burned out. They know all about the thermals and the geology and such. We also talk about the caldera and the recent earthquake activity. They have been pretty excited about that. I don't belong to AAA but maybe I can get some brochures from the different chambers of commerce to add to my books for the kids to look at. I'm sure the kids could go with out TV for the week, but I wanted to have a few amneties for them for the week.

    I may reconsider driving straight through as well, although my husband really wants to. He does stay up all night quite a lot though, for work. Lots of things to think about. As I said, I do appreciate all of the advice.


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