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  1. Default Illinois to Yellowstone

    Hello everyone. I'm planning on taking my family (wife, son-5 and daughter-3) out west this summer. I've set up a tentative itinerary and was hoping for some critiques and ideas for places to see. I've never driven more than a few miles west of the Mississippi before. We'd like to do a little camping (maybe a few nights here and there) but would like to stay in hotels for the most part. I'd like to stay in State/National Parks when possible. I've heard that I should try to squeeze in a stop at Custer's Battlefield -- input on this would be appreciated. I've also considered moving the stop at the Badlands to the trip back just to break that up a little bit. Finally, I've gotten input that stopping at Crazy Horse is kind of, well, crazy and not worth it. What do you guys think?

    Day 1 Drive Chicago Suburbs to Sioux Falls, SD
    Day 2 Drive Sioux Falls, SD to Badlands National Park
    Day 3 Sightseeing in Badlands
    Day 4 Drive to Mount Rushmore/Sight seeing
    Day 5 Sight seeing Crazy Horse/Deadwood
    Day 6 Drive to Devil's Tower, Yellowstone
    Day 7 Visit Yellowstone
    Day 8 Visit Yellowstone
    Day 9 Visit Yellowstone
    Day 10 Visit Tetons
    Day 11 Drive Tetons to Buffalo, WY
    Day 12 Buffalo, WY to Sioux Falls, SD
    Day 13 Sioux Falls, SD to Chicago Suburbs

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default RoadTrips are What You Make Them

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As a first general comment, I think you might be better served with spreading out the big driving days more evenly. For example, you plan to drive around 575 miles the first day and only 300 the second, with no stops listed for either day. I think your kids would enjoy it more if you broke up those two days a bit more evenly and stopped around Albert Lea (I-90/I-29) MN. That would give you a bit more time on your first day to get organized and on the road, and on both days to make some stops along the way to break up the drive and let the kids blow off some steam. Same with the drive back. Break it up fairly evenly and take the time to see stuff on the way.

    As far as the relative merits of things to see and do, that is largely a matter of personal choice. Personally, I was not much impressed by Mt. Rushmore. I was at a loss on how to spend more than about ten minutes there once I had viewed the sculpture. I'm still glad I went (or more accurately, stopped while I was driving through), and I suspect the same would be true of the Crazy Horse Memorial. A couple of places you haven't mentioned in that general area that your children would probably enjoy are Wind and Jewel Caves. The Little Bighorn Battlefield is another place where what you bring to it is important. Physically, it is just rolling prairie, but the history and emotions that it stirs can be quite moving. A visit to it would also set you up for a great scenic route into Yellowstone, US-212 - the Beartooth Highway.

    With all the National Parks and Monuments worth visiting on this itinerary, be sure to buy a National Parks Pass at the first one you come to. It's good for entrance fees for everyone in the car for a year and will pay for itself by the third or fourth park you visit. It does not, unfortunately, cover camping or other special activity fees.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default maybe not

    Actually, I disagree with Buck about the National Parks pass. If this is the only trip to National Parks you make this year, it probably won't be worth the $80. You really have to visit 4-5 parks before it pays for itself, since they raised the price a couple years ago.

    The pass doesn't cover Mt. Rushmore, because the monument itself is free. However, there is a $10 parking fee, which is the only practical way to visit the monument. Personally, I find this annoying simply because it is so disingenous. The park pass also wouldn't cover cave tours at Jewel or Wind caves, which is a standard policy. That means you'd only be using the pass for Yellowstone/Tetons (one admission fee for both parks), Badlands, Devils Tower, and Little Bighorn, which I don't think would cost $80 by themselves.

    I do have one other idea for you. Instead of backtracking through South Dakota on your way back from Yellowstone, you might instead want to head back on I-94 through North Dakota and possibly stop at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. The distance really wouldn't be too much different and would let you see a slightly different landscape.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the feedback so far. I will look into tweaking my itinerary with the suggestions you gave. Will also look into the National Park pass to see if it's cost effective or not.

  5. Default

    Theodore Roosevelt N.P. is a nice park. A little 'mellower' of a badland than the Badlands N.P. in South Dakota. Plus, a lot less frequented (in my eyes).


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