Originally Posted by Thumperjon
Considering time of year travel, anyone have advise on a springtime trip vs a late summer early fall trip? We are avoiding a mid summer trip. Glad to hear advise. Thanks
I would probably opt for a trip in late Aug. or early Sept. Daytime temps will range from the 70's to the 90's. We've had very nice (cooler) summers for the last 5 years (only 2-3 days last summer were above 100 deg. I would avoid a springtime trip due to the liklihood of some very nasty weather (late May into early June might
be ok, weatherwise).
The Black Hills is a touristy area with July and August being very busy with Cushman, Corvette, and Mustang rallys, rodeos, regional Fairs, the Sturgis Bike Rally, etc. These activities tend to make for expensive accommodations anywhere in the Black Hills. During the Sturgis Rally, it is common for hotels to be $250-$300 per night. Unless you enjoy dense traffic and slow riding I would avoid the area during the Rally. Off-Rally hotels will be $130+ per night. After Labor Day, hotels in Keystone, SD (at the base of Mt. Rushmore) can be had for $50-$60 per night.
You stated you have 10 "nights" available for the round-trip; are you allowing for 12 travel days? You will likely take 3 days each way from Poughkeepsie to Rapid City if you can average 600 miles per day; this scenario would leave 6 days to see the area. It will take you 3 days of dawn-to-dusk riding to cover several of the Black Hills sights/rides other forum members have suggested. If you are so inclined, I would suggest you ride from Rapid City to Cody, WY (400 miles), ride the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (which begins 16 miles from Cody) to its intersection with the Beartooth Highway which will take you over Beartooth Pass into the town of Red Lodge, MT. The Beartooth and the Chief Joseph are two of the most spectacular rides in the US. The top of the Beartooth Highway is nearing 11,000' elevation and may not be open until late June or early July. If you make this trip, don't wait until mid or late Sept, snow comes early on the Beartooth.
Red Lodge to Billings, Mt is approx 50 miles, and Billings to Rapid City is 375 miles via I-90. A very scenic alternative route is I-90 from Billings to Crow Agency (55 miles), then Highway 212 from Crow Agency to Belle Fourche, SD (approx 200 miles). Belle Fourche to Rapid City is 60 miles).
Custer Battlefield is located at Crow Agency and is a worthwhile stop. Billings is a very nice small city (100,000) with excellent accomodations. Cody, WY is a very cool town; the Buffalo Bill Museum is a must-see, as is the Irma Hotel. Red Lodge has several motels but they will be pricey. If you make the MT/WY leg, the Cowboy Bar in Fromberg, MT is a quaint and interesting stop. The owner has a nice collection of western artifacts and memorabilia in a "museum" attached to the rear section of the bar.