Trip Maryland to South Dakota, have questions

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kks

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Oct 28, 2012
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Hi new here and not an RV owner at this time, however I am planning a 15 day trip next summer renting an RV from a local owner.  I have a few questions from you experienced folks and appreciate your help. My plan is do a round trip from Maryland to Blackhills, SD and back with my wife and 2 daughters (11 and almost 6). Here are my questions:

1) is this trip realistically doable in an enjoyable way? Of course we will stop along the way and see some sights and maybe even spend a day at Cedar Point in Ohio, but there will have to be a number of longer driving days. I really open to any all thoughts or suggestions here on how to plan this. I figure we only need a few days in South Dakota and the trip itself is half the enjoyment but there is still going to have to be 50 to 55 driving hours in 15 days.

2) I was planning to go late July or August. I see Sturgis is planned for the 5th to the 11th of August How early does it start getting crowded and how soon after does it get back to normal?

3) any suggestions for good stopovers, sights between Maryland and SD?

I know the trip is not for a while, but I need to pick dates now. Thanks.
 

geodrake

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Hello and welcome to The RV Forum.

It looks like three hard days of driving, each way.  Me, I would take longer.  300 - 350 is about all I'm good for.  Stopping along the way to smell the roses and see the sights may reduce it down to 200 miles a day.  At that rate and not staying in S.D. long it seems quite feasible. 

 

Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram

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Here are some thoughts from someone who travels full time to someone who hasn?t.

Keep your days reasonable, no more than five hours actually driving, which gives you time to stop, eat, enjoy something local, and have time to enjoy the night?s destination.

Given that thought, plan to stop at places that have something that will entertain you for an hour or two to break up the monotony of traveling. Plan your fuel stops long before you need them. It?s not so critical in a smaller Class C, but a little more important when you have a larger rig.

Time your arrival in your campground so you are not exhausted. As a new RV?er, being tired and in a hurry is a recipe for costly mistakes while parking and hooking up. Give yourself plenty of space on the calendar.

Don?t make the trip all about the Black Hills, which it sounds like you have already decided that, and make sure you have fun along the way.

We try to break every two hours, just because, and try not to pass a rest stop, again, just because.

With four people in the coach, and especially with the kids, I think you will want to vary the routine as much as possible and avoid a death march.

Above all, the entire trip should be enjoyable, not just the turnaround. Have fun and enjoy the ride!
 

kks

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Thank you for the replies. I do plan on stopping along the way to do something with the kids each day, some will be shorter and some longer, I don't want them to be miserable.  I just have to figure out what those things are. I also plan on coming back a different route then going out. Anyone else have thoughts or info on Sturgis, I would love to hear them.
 

COMer

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The Sturgis experience lasts most of the summer and clearly from weeks before, to weeks afterwards.  There are people who arrive long before the official dates.  Keep in mind that the extra visitors are greater than the population of the state in some years.  But once you are away from Sturgis, they are just normal visitors doing the same things you will be doing, only on motorcycles.  They are just tourists.  Stay away from Sturgis and I doubt you will have a problem.

When we traveled with our kids, we allowed them to decide on one stop per day (Wall drug for example) and we planned another (museum or science center).  They helped pick the campground (swimming pool of course) and they kept happy and enjoyed the trip.
 

billandpam

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We made a trip last Aug.  ( a week after Sturigs. ).  Cleveland to Devils Tower in 3 1/2 days than to Custer SD
For 9 days, seen all the sights. 4 days to get home. First day on road long haul 450 miles to clear Chicago after
That no more than 350 miles or less.  Stayed at KOA's while traveling all close to highway and all had pools,
Clean restrooms and hot showers. AAA trip tik and a koa directory made planing easy. Went out on I90 and
Returned on I80. It was a great trip.

Bill
 

BruceinFL

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We used to leave real early, like o'dark:30. That way kids were still asleep, not much traffic and could get in 2 1/2-3 hours driving before all woke up for bkfst. Then we would drive a few more hours and stop around lunchtime at a campground with a pool so all could swim, etc. and wife and I could also get some exercise. After supper, early to bed for me but the rest stayed up watching tv, games, etc. Worked real well for us.

Bikers get out there early and stay late so be sure to get a reservation somewhere well in advance of your trip. My favorite cg is the Broken Arrow Horse Camp/RV Park just outside Custer. Convenient to the "rocks" and Custer State Park.
 

Dance Chick

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We went this past summer and stayed at Custers Gulch in Custer SD.  We were there a week before Sturgis and had no problems with all the bikes.  Each day more and more came in, but we never had a traffic or congestion problem as we ventured around the area.  We thought it was interesting seeing all of the bikers, their bikes, and their biker outfits.  The two or three CGs I checked raised their rates about 3 days or so right before Sturgis officially began and only by $3.00 or $4.00 a night.  We also got our reservations about 2 weeks in advance, so I guess we got lucky.  The Black Hills are stunning, and you must take the kids through Custer State Park for the buffalo & donkeys.
 

Tom and Margi

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One thing Tom did for our kids when we were faced with long "have to" trips:  he mounted AAA maps on cardboard and gave each child a map and a marker.  They had fun marking our progress each day and it certainly ended the "how much longer" and "are we there yet" questions.

I 'spose in these times, perhaps each kid would have a map app on their smart phone?  It would serve the same purpose.  ;D

Margi
 

kjansen

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My daughter lives in Kensington Md and we make that trip twice a year, although only from Mn to DC.  You can find lots of things to see along the way and never make it to the Blackhills.  Wisconsin Dells is a great place for fun and games for kids and adults and is about 1/2 way to the Hills.  You may want consider a day lay over. Still lots to see between the Dells and the Hills, but could pass it by due to time. Sturgis is
busy alot going on but if you stay south of Rapid City the traffic will be somewhat less.  Do  book in advance and the Custer area is about the center of the sights.  Places closer to Sturgis will already have reservations and may be full at this time.  Enjoy your trip.
 

Olys45

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I'd make reservations for anywhere in the Black Hills sooner, rather than later, especially if you are going to be in the hills close to Rally time. From the 4th of July through Sturgis and even a week or so afterwards, there is at least one major thing happening somewhere in the Hills that attracts a large group of people.

Corvette and Impala Rallies up in Spearfish, the "Days of '76" in Deadwood and the Pennington County (Rapid City) Fair, just to name a few.

I can't remember all of them, but I was stationed at Ellsworth AFB (Rapid City) from springtime 1990 until Labor Day weekend 1993.

The Air Museum at Ellsworth AFB is pretty neat if you like history and airplanes. I just like it because the EC-135 61-0262 (I think it's a 1961 model) was one of the Aircraft that defended the nation during the Cold War and I worked on it as a youngling. It is the only -135 that I have seen without an Air Refueling Flood Light off the back part of the tail. That was blown off from a lighting strike before I started working on it. I knew the guy that was on the "receiving" end/grounding point of the strike. They said his stutter was worse after the strike....

Oly
 

kks

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Wow, you guys really are being quite helpful, thanks! I had never heard of the Wisconsin Dells but that seems like a good stop off with plenty to do with the kids.  I will definitely make reservations well in advance for anywhere in the Black Hills area.
 

hoozerman

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As far as routes are concerned, I would recommend Rt. 2 through Nebraska either coming or going. From Grand Island to Alliance, this is known as the Sandhill Journey Scenic Byway and is very pleasant stretch. We took this route to Sturgis by motorcycle. You may want to pay attention to gas stops. Enjoy!
 

BruceinFL

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kks said:
Wow, you guys really are being quite helpful, thanks! I had never heard of the Wisconsin Dells but that seems like a good stop off with plenty to do with the kids.  I will definitely make reservations well in advance for anywhere in the Black Hills area.

You only have two weeks. I would recommend going straight thru to the Black Hills and doing your thing there. Then IF you have time, stop at the Dells on your way back.
 

Olys45

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hoozerman said:
As far as routes are concerned, I would recommend Rt. 2 through Nebraska either coming or going. From Grand Island to Alliance, this is known as the Sandhill Journey Scenic Byway and is very pleasant stretch. We took this route to Sturgis by motorcycle. You may want to pay attention to gas stops. Enjoy!

I think that is the route we took when I moved home at the end of my USAF career the summer of 2011. It is pretty neat and yes, pay attention to the gas stops!

One other thing to keep in mind, the State's only get bigger and the population thins out the further West you travel, with some exceptions until you hit the West Coast. I've found that Europeans and Easterners just don't understand/comprehend how big the US gets and how much of "nothing" (some people call it that, I call it beauty) there is out here.

To put it into perspective, I would travel on roads from Alzada Montana to Libby Montana, I would travel approximately 40 more miles than if I traveled from Alzada Montana to Dalhart Texas. (just input these three towns into google maps) I can also say I drove in 7 states!

Safe travels!

Oly
 

rdanger

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Nashua, New Hampshire
You will thoroughly enjoy this trip!  We left New Hampshire on a Friday am and arrived in Custer, So. Dakota 4 days later driving approx 7 to 8 hours a day......stayed near Rapid City for a few nights, visited Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood then left for Little Bighorn in Montana, stayed one night, then onto Cody, Wyoming .  My husband and I shared driving our 30 foot motor home....saw a lot, ( it was his bucket list)......Visited Wall Drug and stayed at mostly KOA's along the way.........most traffic south of Chicago......crazy drivers....hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip!
 
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