Despite endless research, I'm still stuck on creating an itinerary from St. Paul, MN to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. We have around 12 days. We'd like to go through North Dakota one way to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park and South Dakota to stop in Black Hills for a night or two to see Custer/Mt. Rushmore etc. So, I'm hoping for help on figuring out how to minimize driving/maximize opportunities to see cool things. We are going in August so finding lodging in the park was difficult. I was able to get three nights at the same lodge, tried unsuccessfully to get one night at a different lodge in the park as others had suggested, but no availability. I had thought:
Day 1 MSP-Dickinson ND (mostly driving)
Day 2 Dickinson (early am at Teddy Roosevelt and then long drive) to Gardiner MT
Day 3 Gardiner spend day rafting/horseback riding
Day 4 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - what part of the park to see?
Day 5 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - what part of the park to see?
Day 6 Yellowstone Canyon Lodge - drive southernmost Yellowstone/drive to Tetons
Day 7 Grand Tetons (stay where?)
Day 8 Grand Tetons stay another night?
Day 9 - ?? I had thought Cody, WY would be fun with Wild West activities
Day 10 - South Dakota
Day 11 - South Dakota
Day 12 Badlands - stay over Mitchell/Sioux Falls?
Day 13 Drive home
Not sure how this looks. Ideas? I have it at 13 days at this point, that should be the long end. My biggest confusion is getting to/from Tetons without adding hours of driving. Staying in Cody sounded fun, but it just seems to be the wrong direction. We could also flip the itinerary and go in through SD and leave through ND and just mostly push through long drives. Help please!! THANK YOU!!