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

Started by Laura, April 13, 2014, 03:51:10 PM

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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):

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. 
Roads I have clinched- I-84 (MA-CT-NY-PA), I-78 (NY-NJ-PA), I-395 (DC-VA), I-695 (Both DC and NY), I-490 (NY), I 390 (NY), I-787 (NY), I-287 (NY-NJ), I-795 (NC), I-140 (NC), I-295 (Both VA and MD), I-270 (MD).


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.


Thank you.. good information.  I'm also thinking about modifying Laura's original route to use less interstates, and also travel much more south of Pittsburg, over the top of Columbus, South of Ft Wayne (24), south of Chicago (224), to Forrest and up 47, pick up 20 and follow it all the way through to 35 in E Dubuque, IA, to 151 to Dickeyville, pick up 61 to 14, follow the Mississippi River to LaCrosse, cross over and follow 90 to Rapid City.   I'm guessing it would be slower, but more scenic.   


If you want to stay south of Pittsburgh yet still pass near Columbus, an option I like is I-68 west to I-79, south to Clarksburg, then US-50 (Corridor D) west to Athens, then US-33 northwest to Columbus. I find the drive far more relaxing than Pennsylvania's substandard Interstates, especially the US-50 portion, which is generally wide open (four lanes, speed limit generally 65). The distance may look longer on a map, but the difference is actually quite minimal. Corridor H (US-48) is even nicer but takes longer.

Another option that didn't exist at the time of Laura's original post is the new alignment of US-219 south of Somerset, Pennsylvania. It takes about half an hour to connect between I-68 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Somerset using the new alignment. I prefer that to passing through Breezewood.
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