Question: Sue asks: We are planning to drive from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Mount Rushmore and then to Yellowstone. I am finding that hotels at Yellowstone are already booked and wonder what other lodging recommendations are reasonably close. Is Cody too far away? Any insight on "must-see" areas would be appreciated.
Answer: Suzy Peterson, travel planner at the Sioux Falls AAA office says: Cody is approximately 115 miles and a 2 1/2 drive from Yellowstone. It is a great place to stay even though it’s a bit of a drive back and forth.
Things to see in Yellowstone National Park include the majestic Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, the predictable thrill of the Old Faithful, and an abundance of roaming wildlife in Lamar Valley – besides just enjoying the beauty of nature. Drive the 196-mile figure 8 loop to see striking natural features and wildlife throughout the park.
There are lots of things to see and do in Cody also: hiking in the mountains, rock climbing, river rafting and fishing to name just a few. You can go horseback riding, or visit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Hole-in-the-Wall cabin. Don't miss the Buffalo Bill Museum and Historical Center (especially if you are a history or western buff). As the "Rodeo Capital of the World," Cody boasts nightly rodeo performances; they also have special events almost every weekend in June and July.
Be sure to allow enough time for the Black Hills area. Many visitors are surprised at how much there is to see and do there besides Mt. Rushmore. Bear Country is a must-see, especially the bear cubs area at the end where you can watch the cubs playing. Reptile Gardens is amazing, and kids especially love this attraction. Custer State Park is an experience in itself. The buffalo are magnificent and the begging burros will entertain you. Iron Mountain Road with its pigtail curves and picturesque views is not to be missed. The Needles Highway is a remarkable drive with tunnels and more magnificent views. Don't forget to visit Crazy Horse, and continue to track the progress of what may be the world's largest sculpture when it’s completed. Be sure to take in a cave, and Wind Cave or Jewel Cave are awesome to see.
Hot Springs, South Dakota, is known for the Mammoth Site (an actual live dig) and Evans Plunge (a nice way to take a break). Don't forget to take in Devil's Tower National Monument on the way to Yellowstone. It's a great outdoor experience.