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Old 09-21-2009, 02:00 AM   #1
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South Dakota.

Hi, after the Jackson Rancheria Rally, we are thinking about taking a side trip to South Dakota. I know next to nothing about South Dakota and never been there.

(1.) Where to camp?

(2.) What to see?

(3.) What to do?

(4.) Anything unusual that I should know before going there? Odd laws, 25% grades, 500 miles between gas stations, no rest stops, & no Wal*Marts.


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Old 09-21-2009, 05:41 AM   #2
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The Black Hills are spectacular and worth the drive. You would want to see Mt. Rushmore, etc., also Custer State Park where bison herds roam and the burros will eat carrots out of your hand. We have not stayed in the Park, but they have campgrounds the animals (including bison) roam freely throughout and are quite popular.

There is a beautiful City Campground on a creek in Spearfish, SD--605-642-1340.

Desmet, SD, has a city park with electric and hot showers for $8 a night, as of last year. Simply a place to park, but clean and oh-so-inexpensive! The SD camping guide at the Visitor Centers will have this and other city campgrounds listed.

The old courthouse in Custer has a good museum, and there is a guy named "Rock" who does leatherwork and runs French Creek RV Park right in town, where you can walk to everything. 605-673-3727 Nothing terribly exciting in terms of amenities, but neat and tidy, close to everything, he is fun and has completely covered the campground with beautiful rocks of all kinds. He is a Passport America site with a 50% discount, if you are a member.

Have a great trip and drive safe.

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Old 09-21-2009, 06:36 AM   #3
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And if you've never been there, don't forget Badlands National Park. Also, I would suggest you see Crazy Horse monument while you are in the area of the Black Hills. And if you like all the amenities when you "camp", I recommend the KOA on the Western edge of Custer, SD. It has an atmosphere of a National Forest campgound, while having full hookups.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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I've been to the Black Hills and Badlands area several times. I really like the area!
If your staying in the Badlands try the campground in Interior, SD.
Welcome to the Badlands Budgethost Motel and Campground
The Badlands National Park campground isn't much.

If traveling between Rapid City and the Badlands I would recommend HWY 44 - it's a nice ride.
Make sure you go to Custer State Park and Needles Hwy.
There is a rail to trail that goes from the Black Hills down to Edgemont - it's all downhill!
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:02 AM   #5
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We loved Custer State Park. So much to see and do there. We also liked Blue Bell Campground within the park - stayed there 3 nights in June.

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Old 09-21-2009, 10:27 AM   #6
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The Badlands are very interesting and quite eerie. You almost feel like you have landed on another planet. We also always love visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The Corn Palace is redecorated every year to a new theme with real ears of corn. This has been going on for over 100 years.

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Old 09-21-2009, 12:27 PM   #7
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Rafter J Bar Campground (private campground) in Hill City SD is centrally located in the heart of the Black Hills allowing for easy day trips to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Spearfish Canyon - - all which I would consider things not to miss in western SD. There are many other State campgrounds in the Black Hills if you like camping in the pines.
East of Rapid City of course is the Badlands which are also a must see for first timers. If you like fishing, the Missouri River in Chamberlin is a good location enroute to Mitchell to see the Corn Palace.
We grew up in Eastern SD so we've made numerous trips to the Black Hills area and enjoy it each time we go back.
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:44 PM   #8
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Wall Drug Store

Don't forget to go to Wall Drug Store History of Wall Drug in Wall SD

I second the idea of going to Crazy well as Mt. Rushmore.

Take some carrots to feed the burrows in Custer State Park--if that is politically or environmentally correct these is a great part of the country....have a great trip...paula
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:12 PM   #9
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If you like the old west theme be sure to stop at Old Town. We recently went through SD and saw what everyone above mentioned but also spent an afternoon in Old Town. Most structures inside are original and you've probably seen parts of it in different Hollywood western movies.

Not positive but I think there is a rv park right next door.

Also, we never knew of this place but after seeing signs for what seemed like 500 miles, we stopped at a place called Wall Drug. It's a very old family owned business that takes up an entire city block. If your looking for something to eat, .5 cent coffee (i think), T-shirts, Home made Ice Cream, Boots... whatever, be sure and stop there as they probably have it.
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Old 09-21-2009, 04:43 PM   #10
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Bob - Just came from there last month --

1 - Where to camp - Our options were somewhat limited due to the the Sturgis bike rally traffic but you won't have that difficulty. There are lot's of places in the Black hills that are great. South Dakota state parks looked nice (but were full), Spearfish Canyon is very beautiful as well. We ended up staying at the Rafter J Bar resort. For a commercial campground, we found it very pleasant. Sites have a little space around them. There are trees as well as open meadows. There were several other nice looking campgrounds in and around the Hill City / Custer area. Badlands NP is a great place to see as well as camp. As noted above, the campground that is in the interior is nicer than the one right at the main entrance by the visitor center.

2 & 3 - What to see / do - Custer SP (camp, hike, just drive through), Mount Rushmore (evening lighting ceremony is cool), Crazy Horse (same), Wind Cave (wildlife in the park or cave tours), Jewel Cave (cave tour), Spearfish Canyon (scenic drive as well as camping), Needles Hwy (VERY scenic drive. Don't take your trailer there though),Badlands NP (camping, wildlife viewing, scenic drive, hiking), Corn Palace (a few hours or less to see and take a picture or two) and Wall Drug (if the worlds largest souveneer shop is your thing). You can also go to Deadwood and Lead for Old West and mining museums and activities. Deadwood is full of casinos if you are interested in that. Just outside of the main entrance to the Badlands NP there is a NM dedicated to the minute man missile program. They have a small visitor center with a video and staff to answer questions. There is a self guided tour of a silo as well as a weekly guided tour of a control facility.

We had a really good time.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:30 PM   #11
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We spent 10 days out there in auguest. Was great and all the good places to go and see have been mentioned. We too stayed at Rafter J Bar and were really happy with it. Full hook ups and we were on the end facing a medow so didnt feel crowded at all. Kids loved the pool.

to the list above I'd add: sylvan lake (where they shot National Treasure) and sylvan lake lodge for lunch. Climb Harney Peak for spectacular views and a little work out Also we went to devils tower as a day trip, only couple hours from hill city and you can take spearfish canyon to get there.

We were coming from minnesota so stayed over at the mitchell KOA, and on the way back stopped at the badlands KOA in Interior. Both handy, nice, clean well run.

Dont remember walmarts but theres a cabelas in mitchell and rapid city.

Have fun!
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:37 PM   #12
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Bob, We live on the north end of the Black Hills -Belle Fourche- 10 miles north of Spearfish and I-90. If we can be of help to you during the planning and visiting portions of the trip please don't hesitate to contact us.

Rick & Linda
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:42 PM   #13
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Bear Butte SP NE of Sturgis. Another nice climb - not super difficult - and a great view when you get to the top. There is also camping at the SP but I've never stayed there.

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. One of my favorite places. 50-60 mammoth remains have been found here and the entire site is under roof and most of the skeletons are still in place with walkways thru the site.

Wind Cave Natl Park and Jewel Cave Natl Monument S of Rapid City. There are also many private caves/caverns in the area that can be toured.

Also S of Rapid City there is a interesting reptile house - can't remember the name but you shouldn't have any problems finding a brochure. Lots of rare snakes including several that are the only ones in the USA. There is also one of those Mystery Spot type places not too far from the reptile house. Again I can't remember the name but brochures will be everywhere.

And if you get into the NE part of the state - Watertown - they have a very nice municipal CG which is not in any directory. No reservations but you shouldn't have any problem getting in Sun thru Wed and probably not Thu. Fri/Sat it will be crowded. Located on SD20 NE of town. $18.00 with elec/water hookups.

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