Summer week in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota

We flew into Bozeman, Montana, and rented a car. We visited Yellowstone National Park and then headed east to Devil's Tower Monument, and then to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore.


Holiday Inn Express

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

Our room had two queen-sized beds, cable TV, desk and chair, and a small round table with two chairs. There was an iron and ironing board, coffeemaker, and a hair dryer in the bathroom. The bathroom had marble floors and vanity with plenty of counter space. Internet access is free. The room was very clean.

The beds were the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in! My son is still talking about that bed!

Continental breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. They serve bagels, cinnamon rolls, toast, English muffins, baked muffins, yogurt, cereals, apples and bananas, hard boiled eggs, coffee, tea, apple and orange juice.

There is an indoor pool and spa at the hotel that’s open from 6 a.m. to midnight. A washer and dryer is available. There is a fitness room and a game room. Pets are welcome.

There are many restaurants to choose from in this area. Mount Rushmore is 25 miles away.

We would visit here again!

Holiday Inn Express Suites I 90
645 EAST DISK DRIVE
Rapid City, South Dakota, 57701
605-355-9090

Holiday Inn Express

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

All rooms are non-smoking at this hotel.

Our room had two queen-sized beds, cable TV, desk and chair, and a small round table with two chairs. There was an iron and ironing board, coffeemaker, and a hair dryer in the bathroom. The bathroom had marble floors and vanity with plenty of counter space. The room was very clean.

Continental breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. They serve bagels, cinnamon rolls, toast, English muffins, baked muffins, yogurt, cereals, apples and bananas, hard boiled eggs, coffee, tea, apple and orange juice. There are tables there to enjoy your breakfast.

There is a fitness room and a washer and dryer are available to use.

This hotel is 5 minutes from the Bozeman airport.

We would visit here again.

Holiday Inn Express Belgrade
6261 Jackrabbit Lane
Belgrade, Montana, 59714
(406) 388-0800

Econolodge

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

I was very impressed with the fast and friendly check-in process.


Our room had two queen-sized beds, a small refrigerator, microwave, cable TV, and desk and chair. The room was very clean. My only complaint is that they didn’t have a hair dryer in the bathroom.


Continental breakfast is served from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. There's no place to sit, but you’re welcome to take as much as you want back to your room. They serve bagels, English muffins, blueberry muffins, raisin bran and Frosted Flake cereals, coffee, tea, orange and grape juice.


Devil’s Tower National Monument is about an hour away.


I would stay here again!


Best Western Crosswinds

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

This hotel is a two-story building with 70 guest rooms.

Our large, comfortable room had two queen-sized beds, a small refrigerator, microwave, cable TV, desk and chair and a small round table with two chairs. There was an iron and ironing board and a hair dryer in the bathroom. The room was very clean.

A town park with a playground is next to the hotel. You can walk to the downtown, which has a lot of nice gift shops and restaurants. There are also chain restaurants available: McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC. A Visitor’s Center, Imax Theater and Grizzly Museum is downtown. The west entrance to Yellowstone Park is 5 minutes away.

Continental breakfast is served from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. There's a few tables to sit at, but it was very crowded when we were there, so we took it back to our room. They serve bagels, toast, mini blueberry muffins, donuts, apples, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, apple, orange and cranberry juice.

There is an indoor heated pool and spa at the hotel.

We stayed here for 4 days and enjoyed our visit!

Best Western Cross Winds Motor Inn
201 Firehole Lane
West Yellowstone, Montana, 59758
406-646-9557

The Lodge at Yellowstone Lake

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the rustic Lake Lodge at Yellowstone Lake Village. There’s a cafeteria with a varied selection of food and beverages and a large seating area. There were many hot entrees, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages available, including beer. Both my husband and I had one of the specials of the day, which was Trout Almandine, mashed potatoes, and carrots for $8.99, and it was terrific! My son had chicken tenders that were very large, and he said they were very good. The other specials available were pot roast, fried chicken, and ziti with marinara. Our total bill was $32.00.

We sat next to one of the huge windows, which gave us a gorgeous view of Lake Yellowstone. After lunch, we sat in the rocking chairs on the front porch and enjoyed the view.

The Lodge is open from May to October.

I would highly recommend this restaurant!

Lodge at Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Bozeman, Montana

Devils Tower National Monument

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

Devils Tower in Wyoming was the first National Monument in the United States. It’s a huge monolith resembling a tree trunk that rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River.

After the park entrance, before you reach the Tower, there is a Prairie Dog Town on both sides of the road. There are hundreds of prairie dogs popping in and out of their holes. There are some parking areas so you can park and take photos of the prairie dogs, as well as the beautiful views.

At the parking area for the monument, there is a small visitor’s center with restrooms, a bookstore, and a few exhibits. There are a few telescopes so you can view the Tower. Some people were climbing the Tower the day we visited, and we saw a few people reach the top.

There is a 1.5-mile hike around the monument. We decided to take the walk, and we’re glad we did. You can view the Tower from many different angles, and there were nice views of the valleys below. We also saw some deer along the way.

I had wanted to see Devils Tower since I’d first seen it in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." It was as impressive as I expected it to be!

Devils Tower National Monument

Black Hills

Mount Rushmore

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

We visited Mount Rushmore at night to see the Illumination of the Faces at 9 p.m. We arrived at 8 p.m. and paid our $8.00 parking fee, which is good until the end of the year. Even if you have a National Parks pass, you still need to pay the parking fee. There’s a parking garage, Visitor’s Center with huge gift shop, restrooms, and a cafeteria. There’s also an excellent museum that was very informative.

Before you enter the amphitheater for the ceremony, you walk through the Avenue of State Flags, which are tall granite columns on each side of you. All the state flags are flying, and the name of the state is engraved on the column. I thought this was impressive, especially since the columns framed the faces of the Presidents. It was incredible to see the faces of four of our U.S. Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the side of Mount Rushmore.

The amphitheater was large and had plenty of cement benches for everyone to sit on. There was a lot of space between the rows, which made it easier to accommodate wheelchairs and baby strollers. At about 8:30, a Park Ranger welcomed everyone and started asking multiple-choice questions about the four presidents. This was fun for the crowd, especially since there were a lot of children in attendance, and this seemed to keep everyone occupied. Next, they showed a film on the history of the monument and the area. They played classical and patriotic music and illuminated the faces of the Presidents. Then the Ranger invited all veterans and current military personnel to the stage to lower the American flag. They lowered the flag, folded it, and passed the flag to each person, and everyone stated their name, state, and branch of the military they served in and anything else they wanted to say. It was a very moving ceremony!

I highly recommend visiting Mount Rushmore at night. It was terrific!

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
13000 Highway 244
Keystone, South Dakota, 57751
(605) 574-3171

Custer State Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

We had planned a half-day at Custer Park. We stayed the entire day and wished we’d had a week.

We started with a tour of the Needles Highway, which was fantastic! It’s a 14-mile scenic road that takes you through pine forests and granite mountains. Some rocks had tunnels built in them so one car could pass through. At one parking area, once you left the car you realized how huge these granite stones are! My son thought it was cool; he said it was like we were on another planet.

We drove through the wildlife loop and saw wild turkeys, pronghorn antelope, deer, and bison. There are 1500 bison in the park, and we saw a herd of about 300 just as we were coming up over a hill. It was awesome! We stayed in our car and took a lot of photos. A huge bull walked right in front of our car and stared us down to let us know that he was the boss. It was very intimidating! We couldn’t drive away for about a half-hour, since the bison were crossing the street, but it was a wonderful sight to see.

We had read in a tourist brochure that there were "Begging Burros" in the park and they were the only wildlife you were allowed to feed, so we purchased some carrots in case we saw them. Just before we exited the park, we noticed three donkeys on the side of the road. A car had stopped and was feeding the donkeys Sun Chips, which they seemed to be enjoying until they saw the carrots in my husband’s hand and made a beeline straight to the carrots. The donkeys were mild-mannered and let us pet them. They had just finished the last carrot and we heard a loud braying noise from across the field. We looked up and saw about 20 donkeys. As soon as the three donkeys heard the call to come home, they turned and headed off to meet with the rest of their family.

We drove by the Black Hills Playhouse and wished we had time to see a play there. There are campgrounds, lodges, and lakes in the park, so there would be plenty to do for a week’s visit.

We enjoyed our short stay here and would love to visit again when we have more time.

There is a $12.00 fee to enter the park.

Custer State Park
13329 US Hwy 16A
Custer, 57730
(605) 255-4772

Yellowstone National Park

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Travelingon on September 5, 2005

Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first National Park, established in 1872. This is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and home to many geysers and other hydrothermal features. There is beautiful scenery and an amazing amount of wildlife in their own habitat. The park is very well organized, and the Park Rangers are very helpful at the many Visitor’s Centers. At the park entrance, you receive a copy of Yellowstone Today, which is the official newspaper for the park. This includes maps and much information about the park.

We visited Yellowstone for four days, and we’ll visit again when we have more time. It was wonderful to drive through the park every day and see the wildlife. It was fun driving around the park and noticing cars stopped ahead and wondering what we’d see next. We’d grab our binoculars and cameras for the next adventure. During our visit we saw: black bears, eagles, coyotes, trumpeter swans, ospreys, elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, foxes, marmots, and bison.

We enjoyed learning about the hydrothermal features: geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles.

We visited the park in August, and the park didn’t seem overly crowded. The only time it felt like there were a lot of people is when we visited Old Faithful. There were many picnic areas and we took advantage of them for lunch on two of our days. It was so peaceful enjoying our lunch next to the river enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife.

We loved Yellowstone National Park and we’ll visit it again!

Yellowstone National Park
Headwaters of the Yellowstone River
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 82190
(307) 344-7381

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