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Planning an "out west" vacation

Turner, Maine
Level Contributor
564 posts
62 reviews
Planning an "out west" vacation

We would like to take a trip that encompasses the Badlands, Mt Rushmore and Devils Tower. Then on to Glacier NP and Banff NP Alberta. We have 12 days to get this in driving from place to place. Is it doable first of all and what do you consider "must sees" at any of these places or along the way. Also any recommendations on places to stay. We like B&Bs but are open to anything, even camping for a couple of nights. Looking at going late June early July.

15 replies to this topic
Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
34,730 posts
505 reviews
1. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

Are you including the other big national park in Montana and Wyoming- Yellowstone? Yellowstone is known for the diversity of scenery and wildlife- bison, wolves, bears, elk, pronghorn, etc.

Are you flying or driving into the area?

Late June/early July would be great for this area. July is better for Glacier NP because want to be sure the Going to the Sun Road thru the park is fully open.

It will take you about 12 hours of driving time to go from Devils Tower to Glacier NP.

Go online and look at the travel guide for the Black Hills- it has great info-

www.travelsd.com.

You will need at least 1 day in the Badlands, 1/2 day for Devils Tower and then a day to see Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer SP, and Deadwood.

We like staying at the K Bar S Lodge in Keystone- it sits in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore. If you want to stay near Devils Tower then I know there are some nice places near Sundance.

Good luck with your trip planning.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,378 posts
61 reviews
2. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

I wouldn't tackle a trip like this one in 12 days. You might consider SD and Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in one trip, particularly if you could add a couple of weeks to your trip. (You really need 2 weeks minimum touring time for these 3). Yellowstone is quite a bit closer to the Black Hills. I have not been to Glacier yet, but I personally would consider Banff and Glacier as a separate trip.

Peach is right; the drive from Devil's Tower to Glacier is about 12 hours,and the drive from Glacier to Banff is about another 6-7 hours. This way too much for only 12 days.

Keep in mind that most pair the Black Hills and Yellowstone, rather than the Black Hills and Glacier/Banff, just because they are closer together.

Definitely order the trip planner from travelsd.com. You will be amazed all that there is to see in the Black Hills area. You could even easily spend 10 days in that area.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
34,730 posts
505 reviews
3. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

FYI-

From their other post on the Montana forum- I think they have decided to do a fly and drive trip.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,378 posts
61 reviews
4. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

I did actually see that after I posted Peach. Thanks, and I think some consolidiation is a very good idea. :)

Turner, Maine
Level Contributor
564 posts
62 reviews
5. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

We are now planning a fly and drive after finding a good deal on airfare to Denver. Right now it looks like a night in Cody Wy, then through YNP to Chico Hot Springs Resort for a couple of nights and more YNP exploration. Then north to Banff with stops in Glacier going and coming back. At the moment the Black Hills area is on hold. If anyone knows a reasonably price place to stay near Glacier NP, we'd love to hear about it.

Edited: 21 November 2012, 00:04
Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Level Contributor
2,054 posts
14 reviews
6. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

Swift Current Motor Inn in the heart of Many Glacier is reasonable. Not fancy by any means but you have your choice of cabins with shared bathrooms and motel rooms.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
34,730 posts
505 reviews
7. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

The last time we were in Glacier we were late in making reservations in the park so stayed in Kalispell at the Hampton Inn. It was a very nice hotel and affordable imo.

Also be sure and check with rental car companies about taking cars across the border into Canada. Most rental car companies will allow it if you have proper insurance (Canadian law about insurance coverage).

Loveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
3 posts
106 reviews
8. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

We make the Badlands/Black Hills/Yellowstone/Teton part of this trip in the time you have every year, and find it quite nice; don't know that it would be so enjoyable were we to add Glacier. Personally, I find the lodging in Yellowstone to be sort of tiresome. The park is so crowded that it is almost impossible to travel without reservations, as we prefer: for that part of the trip, at least, you'll need a firm, unspontaneous itinerary.

Can I put in a good word for Thermopolis? It's a pretty drive from there up to Cody; the hot springs at the state bath house are fun, and Legend Rock has amazing petroglyphs. Getting there on 14 or 16 is beautiful, and much less harried than Yellowstone via I-90.

Also, there's a pretty road that runs from West Yellowstone down to Jackson outside the park to the west, through Idaho and past Mesa Falls. It's beautiful and far from the madding crowd.

Dubois is nice too. I guess I'd recommend drawing a smaller route and delving deeper. But whatever you do, you'll have fun. I love the West!

Turner, Maine
Level Contributor
564 posts
62 reviews
9. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

Thanks for the tips. We are leaving in about a week. Already booked the Irma Hotel in Cody. From there we want to do the Beartooth Highway and take the northeast entrance into YNP. At first we were not going to go to the Grand Tetons, but my wife has heard from a few people to not miss it. Again, thank you for the tips.

Spery, Iowa
Level Contributor
10,953 posts
172 reviews
10. Re: Planning an "out west" vacation

Have a great trip and please post a trip report- we LOVE details!

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