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Help me plan a trip from Baltimore to South Dakota and back!

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In exactly one month, I will be on my way to South Dakota!! (w00t!)

I've thoroughly got over the itinerary for there and back, and mostly have that nailed down. There's a few changes, but I really want to ask about my itinerary in South Dakota itself more than anything!!

* So as of right now, the plan is to arrive into South Dakota proper on Monday afternoon/evening. The morning/early afternoon will be spent checking out stuff in Nebraska (Carhenge, Chimney Rock, Scottsbluff). We don't have anything planned, because quite honestly I think we will be more than happy to arrive at our cabin and just chill.
* Tuesday will include Mt. Rushmore in the morning and Crazy Horse either in the afternoon or evening. Maybe evening so that we can see the laser light show at night?
* Wednesday will include Wall, SD and Badlands National Park. I'm not sure which is better to do first: the town or the park?
* Thursday morning we will head out to Devil's Tower and then head later to Belle Fourche and Deadwood.
I tried to keep the itineraries a bit loose so that we can enjoy our time at each place and so that we can fit in some leisurely loop tours (which I'll detail more below). Have I made them too loose? If so, please let me know.

Also, we had hoped to see one of the caves (either Wind or Jewel; leaning towards Jewel), but I'm not sure which day would be best for this. From what I've read, you have to get there early to schedule a tour, so I feel like this has to be a morning activity. Perhaps Wednesday morning?

If we decide that we want to do something additional Monday, we could always move Crazy Horse to this slot, or spend time in Hot Springs or Rapid City. I just can't predict at this point how tired Mom is going to be, and since there are hiking trails from our campsite, it might be an ideal opportunity for Mike and I to go hiking for a bit while she rests.

Now onto questions about loop drives (yay):

* So I've been looking into loop drives, and found some maps with some suggested tour routes. Does anyone have any recommendations about the specific routes, particularly the ones exclusively in the Black Hills? I know previous posts mentioned 16A, 71, 87, 385, but do you have further recommendations?
* Mapmikey, I know you mentioned 240, and that's also what this map recommends:
* This was the route I planned before I found this map...
Thanks again for all of your help!!!


I think you have a great itinerary, and I think you will be pleased with any of the routes you mentioned when traveling through the Black Hills. You pretty much can't go wrong! The 16A loop and Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park are the best drives in my opinion closely followed by Needles Hwy (SD 87). I hope  you have a wonderful time enjoying the West!

While pretty old, this was a very helpful thread for me. Would it be OK to get it going again?

My wife & I (seniors) are also planning a trip from Maryland to Mount Rushmore. I'd like to build on the great information already in here, and add a few questions.. Particularly the Ohio / Indiana portion of the trip. 

1. Is there anything for a senior couple to see or do while going through Ohio and Indiana? 
2. We've never driven through these states, so what is a reasonable distance to expect to cover in a day? it looks like Laura was planning pretty long daily segments.


Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is always a good one. Right off of I-80/90, and it is a fun place to go for amusement park rides. Indiana Dunes SP is a good one too and it is right on Lake Michigan. 

1. In addition to Cedar Point, there's some other attractions in that vicinity if amusement parks aren't your thing, particularly the nearby Kelley's Island and the Bass Islands. If you'll be using a route further south (I-70 or otherwise), Hocking Hills State Park is about an hour from I-70 in the scenic southern part of the state and definitely worth a stop.

2. It depends on what route you'll be using through those states. I've done I-90 straight through with one stop and made it from PA to IL in about 6 hours. Entering Ohio from I-80 or the Turnpike would probably be similar. Obviously, it would be longer with any potential stops.

I can't speak for I-70, but I would expect more traffic issues (truck traffic, rush hour congestion, etc.) in Columbus and Indy than anything on the I-80/I-90 corridor. Any traffic I've encountered in the Cleveland area in a dozen or so trips has been minimal, and Toledo/South Bend are effectively bypassed by their states' respective toll roads.


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