Traveling by Car to Mount Rushmore and Colorado Springs. Any Advice Helpful.

Updated on June 11, 2013
M.L. asks from Derby, KS
8 answers

We are taking our three girls (ages 7 and twins age 10) from Kansas City, up to Sioux Falls South Dakota, over to Mount Rushmore to stay three days then down to Colorado Springs for two more days.
I'm looking for advice on things to do and see in those areas, fun things to do in the car, how to pack for a 11 days in the back of our van, and how to save money on a trip like this.

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answers from Columbus on

Oh my family and I took a very similar trip back in the early 1970's. Except we drove from Cincinnati, Ohio!! Can you imagine three highschool-aged kids sitting in the back seat of a station wagon!! Great memories!! I know everything has changed quite a bit but I do remember Mount Rushmore is breathtaking!!

As for stuff in the car - have plenty of water on hand and snacks. I usually have my kids each pack a small backpack of their own stuff to keep them busy - hand-held games, puzzle books, books to read - that way they weren't allowed to complain when they didn't have something to do. Do you have a dvd player? Portable dvd players are a life saver!! I sometimes made up a quiz about the places we visited. That way they had to pay attention to the places we went.

As for saving money - are you camping along the way? That saves a bundle. Also, for meals, simplicity is the key word!! We would stop at grocery stores along the way and buy just enough for each meal - unless you have a cooler - then you can buy a little extra. We usually bought some fruit ahead of time. We had a lot of picnics when we travelled. My kids loved it!!

Good luck and have a lot of fun!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

To save money, bring a cooler and pack food for snacks and lunches, breakfast too if you aren't staying in hotels with free breakfast. When you visit any National Park, the kids can do the Junior Ranger booklet and earn a free badge, the program is free.

I did a huge 5200 mile driving trip with my son, books on CD are great entertainment for everyone rather than having the kids' noses buried in a DVD player or computer game. That way they still spend time looking out the window and seeing some sites. The library is a good source for books on CD. My son and I planned our route so we had somewhere to stop sometime around 2pm each day. Hutchinson, KS has an underground salt mine if you have never been there. I found it just by googling things to do in each individual state that our trip passed through. You can do the same thing for your route. Tons to do up by the Badlands and Mount Rushmore...caves, parks, hikes, just look for specific activities your family enjoys.

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answers from Washington DC on

In Sioux Falls - if they like baseball - there is a minor league team there with a GREAT stadium - you can catch a game there!

Mount Rushmore? Talk the walking tour. There is a town - well - several - on the way up the hill - stop and have lunch - browse the shops.

The Devils Tower is about 2 hours from Mount Rushmore - it's in the North East corner of Wyoming (when leaving Mt Rushmore - take US Route 14 (same one you take up) to Interstate 90 west - towards Sundance, Wyoming then north on route 24). There is a KOA campground as well as a National Park campground. You can walk around the base of the Tower - learn it's history and folklore - you can climb the rocks up to a certain point as well. On the way to the Devil's Tower - there is a quaint Bed & Breakfast called "sawin' logs" - they have a laundromat for guests...

There's a lot to do in Rapid City, South Dakota as well as Spearfish and Sturgis, South Dakota.

What to do in the car?
Your kids are old enough - you can do the:
* alphabet game - from license plates and road signs, complete the alphabet IN ORDER.
* the license plate game - ESPECIALLY at Mount Rushmore!! - see how can get the most state plates!
* colors - find as many different colors - in cars and signs...
* I spy - "I spy with my little brown eye a brown figure" or whatever the person sees - the rest have to guess what it is and the "spyer" has to state IN THE CAR or outside the car...

Stop and get out and every 2 hours. It will keep the kids from getting car crazy.

If you have a portable DVD player - use that as well.

Pack an cooler - keep bread, cheese, lunch meat, etc. in that so you don't stop at McDonald's, Wendy's, etc. for lunch. If you are going to stay at hotels - find the ones that have mini-kitchens and make your own breakfasts.

If you wanted to make it a "round trip" - I would go from Kansas City to Denver, go through the Rocky Mountain National Park and go up to Wyoming and over to Sioux Falls, and then home...that's me. More to see and no duplication on the trip!

Don't forget to drive through Badlands National park. Custer State Park. There is Beaver Lake campground near the Badlands National Park. There is also MinuteMen Missle National Historic Site (off State Route 14).

Using a campground is cheaper than a hotel. So if you have the room - camp. KOA campgrounds typically have pools as well as laundromats so you don't have to pack for 11 days. After you are done site seeing for the day? One of you do the laundry and prepare dinner - while the other takes the kids to the pool. Stop at Wal-Marts and purchase things like hamburgers and hotdogs, chips, etc. make sure you buy only what you need or keep the cooler stocked with ice to keep the food store properly.

Have you considered renting an RV for this trip? I don't know the cost of rental - but then you could save money on food and hotels by having your room to go! :) My parents have a motorhome and I love traveling in that!!

Good luck and have fun!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Would your girls be interested in anything about Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House on the Prairie? You are setting up for a shot to hit several of those sites depending on just what route.

When are you going? That will be a factor in some things. If you'll be camping, the others have suggestions. We did have a nice small motel to stay up on a ridge just outside of Rapid City if you'd be interested!

In that area, you have Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands and some canyons. If the girls would be interested, there is a park in Rapid City called Storybook - themed as you expect and they did have a time for "actors". Also, the girls might like McDonald's farm (not oo far away from this motel) as well as the Repile Gardens (tho the oldest fella passed a couple years ago - the other huge 'turtle' is probably 90)

In the Springs - you have the Air Force Academy (go see the inside of the church building), Cheyenne zoo, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak (of course - but they might be interested in the cog railway that takes you up)

I'd have to think a bit more on parts of it, but that's just off the top of my head!

ETA - yes Bear Country as Kade mentioned - cannot believe I forgot that as little one had a blast there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We did that two years ago. We had a wonderful time. The hotels in Sioux Falls are much more expensive than out in the countryside. Use the internet and call around. Some hotels are cheaper with breakfast than others are without breakfast. We took coupons delivered to our mail box at home with us and saved at fast food places. If you have a large family, ask your neighbors for their coupons.

I wanted to try buffalo. When we were in the town next to Mt Rushmore, there was a buffet that had buffalo on it. (I'm sorry, I don't remember its name.) But they were having a slow day and cut the price of their buffet in half later in the day. The food was good and plentiful. Shop around. You'll find deals in unexpected places. The train ride was a waste of time. There was a place with a Zip Line. It too was a waste of time and BIG waste of money. There was a bear park that was very interesting and well worth while.

The wood carving museum on the outskirts was wonderful and I thought it would be boring. The scenic drive was great and put you near some wild buffalo and other animals (deer and antelope). It was fascinating.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Denver on

What a fantastic trip- Bear Country near Mt. Rushmore is amazing, must go there.

In Colorado Springs, there is Garden of the Gods which is cool to see but not so exciting for kids. Cave of the Winds is really cool, I'd go there. Seven Falls as well- really pretty.

Definitely pack lots of cooler snacks, and look at those city's websites for coupons. I think food really adds up, so the more you can eat out of a cooler, the better.

Have fun!!



answers from Kansas City on

I just did this trip last year with me and my 3 y/o - drove from KC to Mt Rushmore in one day - whew !!! There is an AWESOME park in Sioux Falls that we stopped at and got out, stretched and had a picnic there. If I remember it was the last exit before you got on to the interstate going west. Its a few miles off the interstate but worth it. I think its called the Falls park or something to do with the Falls. The evening lighting ceremony at Mt Rushmore is pretty neat - the saving money part I could suggest is packing lunches when you travel and make it more of a memory and an adventure. Plus you can get out and see things and not in the rush and noise of restaurants.



answers from St. Louis on

There are a few things to see in between Sioux Falls and Mount Rushmore. The badlands are fantastic to see. If you pass by Mitchell S.D. I believe the corn palace is located there. A stop at Wall Drug store in Wall S.D. is a must. Be warned it is the country's biggest tourist trap, but it is a fun place and you can say you've been to Wall Drug. My best advice though is to research what is available to see and do along the way. In the Mount Rushmore area is also the monument to Crazy Horse that is still being carved. Check this out on line to see if you would be interested. I hope these suggestions help in planning your trip. Have the girls watch for the sunflower fields. My husband and I saw several large fields full of sunflowers. They are a cash crop in S.D. We made the trip from Northern Illinois to Wyoming about two years ago these are the things I remember seeing. Good luck on your trip and have a safe journey.

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