8 days in South Dakota, Colorado & Iowa Itinerary

8 days in South Dakota, Colorado & Iowa Itinerary

Created using Inspirock United States attractions planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Rapid City
— 2 nights
Fly
2
Denver
— 2 nights
Drive
3
Colorado Springs
— 2 nights
Fly
4
Council Bluffs
— 1 night
Fly

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Rapid City

— 2 nights

Gateway to the Black Hills

South Dakota's second-largest city, Rapid City has for many years served as a gateway to the West.
Venture out of the city with trips to Badlands National Park (Badlands Wall, Loop Road, &more), Custer (Iron Mountain Road, Custer State Park, &more) and Delta-09 Missile Silo (in Wall). There's lots more to do: explore the striking landscape of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, take some stellar pictures from Breezy Point Picnic Area, and appreciate the history behind Crazy Horse Memorial.

For photos, reviews, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Rapid City route website.

Chicago to Rapid City is an approximately 4-hour flight. You can also drive; or take a bus. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time to Mountain Standard Time, which is usually a -1 hour difference. Traveling from Chicago in May, things will get slightly colder in Rapid City: highs are around 65°F and lows about 45°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Mon) early enough to fly to Denver.

Things to do in Rapid City

Scenic Drive · Outdoors · Nature · Parks

Side Trips

Denver

— 2 nights

Mile-High City

Aptly nicknamed the "Mile-High City," Denver sits at an altitude of 1,600 m (5,280 ft) above sea level, located right where the Great Plains give way to the Rocky Mountains.
On the 1st (Tue), wander the streets of 16th Street Mall, then examine the collection at National Ballpark Museum, and then sample some tasty brews at a beer tour and tasting. Keep things going the next day: learn more about the world around you at Denver Museum of Nature & Science, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Denver Zoo, and then take in nature's colorful creations at Denver Botanic Gardens.

To see traveler tips, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, you can read our Denver online travel route planner.

You can fly from Rapid City to Denver in 3 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of bus and train. May in Denver sees daily highs of 66°F and lows of 43°F at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Wed) so you can go by car to Colorado Springs.

Things to do in Denver

Museums · Breweries & Distilleries · Shopping · Tours

Colorado Springs

— 2 nights
Stunning Garden of the Gods Park scenery, blue skies and the glory of Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain have attracted visitors to Colorado Springs for more than a century.
On the 3rd (Thu), take a memorable drive along Pikes Peak - America's Mountain, then walk around Garden of the Gods, and then gain insight at United States Air Force Academy. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 4th (Fri): examine the collection at Penrose Heritage Museum, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and then get engrossed in the history at U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum.

For other places to visit, photos, maps, and tourist information, read our Colorado Springs trip planner.

Traveling by car from Denver to Colorado Springs takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or do a combination of train and flight. In June, daily temperatures in Colorado Springs can reach 84°F, while at night they dip to 54°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 4th (Fri) to allow enough time to fly to Council Bluffs.

Things to do in Colorado Springs

Parks · Museums · Scenic Drive · Zoos & Aquariums

Side Trip

Council Bluffs

— 1 night
Council Bluffs is a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States. Start off your visit on the 5th (Sat): identify plant and animal life at Hitchcock Nature Center, admire the striking features of Historic General Dodge House, and then try your luck at Horseshoe Council Bluffs.

Discover how to plan a Council Bluffs trip in just a few steps with Inspirock's itinerary builder.

Traveling by flight from Colorado Springs to Council Bluffs takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus, train, and taxi. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 1 hour traveling from Colorado Springs to Council Bluffs. Traveling from Colorado Springs in June, Council Bluffs is somewhat warmer at night with lows of 64°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 5th (Sat) so you can catch the flight back home.

Things to do in Council Bluffs

Wildlife · Casinos · Fun & Games · Parks

Side Trip

South Dakota travel guide

4.2
National Parks · Scenic Drive · Monuments
The State of Great Faces and Great Places
Famous for the cliffside monuments of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial, South Dakota is a land of Old West history, American Indian culture, and impressive natural wonders. Get to know the state's diverse and breathtaking landscape with a trip through Custer National Park, with a herd of 1,300 free-roaming bison, or by traversing the dramatic peaks of Badlands National Park near the Black Hills. Allow time in your itinerary to visit the state's largest city, Sioux Falls, for shopping, dining, and entertainment options, as well as a number of museums and historical attractions.

Colorado travel guide

4.4
River Rafting & Tubing · Parks · Scenic Drive
The Centennial State
Home to diverse natural ecosystems, Colorado boasts numerous ski resorts, vineyards, canyons, fossil-rich national parks, rugged natural trails, and picturesque scenic drives. Arguably the greatest of Colorado's many natural wonders is Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the North American Rockies. The state's natural beauty inspired the opening lyrics of the song "America the Beautiful." Aside from its abundant unspoiled wilderness, Colorado also offers many urban attractions, including award-winning restaurants and nationally praised microbreweries. With an extensive system of highways and railroads, the state provides visitors on vacation with a chance to explore this largely untamed part of the country by car or train.

Iowa travel guide

4.1
Casinos · Historic Sites · Specialty Museums
The Hawkeye State
Part of the American heartland, Iowa is marked by a strong agricultural heritage, with farmland encompassing around 90 percent of the state's land. However, a holiday in Iowa offers more than corn and cows: you'll also discover charming towns, beautiful lakes, and a handful of vibrant cities. Iowa City, a university town, provides a healthy dose of culture and nightlife, with a youthful and artistic vibe fueled by a sizable student population. A trip to some of Iowa's small towns provides a true American experience. Fortunately, the welcoming residents bear very little resemblance to the dour Iowans portrayed in Grant Wood's famous painting "American Gothic."