RV Camping in The Black Hills of South Dakota
Just east of the mighty Rockies and west of America’s flowing grasslands there are magnificent forested mountains known as The Black Hills. While the Lakota Sioux saw them as black, and the pioneers later viewed them as gold and silver, their true cast is iridescent.
The Black Hills of South Dakota are so rich with the vivid colors of nature that at times they do appear as black! Nature has created a wonderland for outdoors enjoyment; the camping is fantastic, and there is an abundance of things to see and do.
The Four Presidents
Mount Rushmore National Monument (elev. 5,725 ft.) is the main tourist attraction to the Black Hills, and is, of itself, worth a trip here to view. The colossal sculpture faces southeast so as to catch most of the day’s sunlight and is especially spectacular during the nightly lighting ceremonies. The memorial is framed by the beautiful Black Hills National Forest and is located about 25 miles south of Rapid City, South Dakota, off of U.S. 16.
Tours of the sculptor’s studio are provided during the camping season. Campgrounds are plentiful throughout the Black Hills area; and, as magnificent as this memorial is, it is but one of the many exciting spectacles and adventures available in the region.
Private Campgrounds and Resorts
Your camping preferences and outdoors interests will determine which campground or resort you select. The Rafter J Bar advertises “Deluxe facilities in a rustic setting,” and that describes it well. It has a National Park air, yet has all sorts of amenities.
There are three KOAs in the area. The Custer Crazy Horse KOA is located in Custer, and the Custer/Mt. Rushmore KOA and Mt. Rushmore/Hill City KOA are in those respective areas. Also, the Horse Thief Campground and Resort is located in Hill City, and the Battle Creek Campground is in Keystone, to name but a few. Let’s not forget the many excellent private parks in nearby Rapid City, South Dakota.
The National Forest Service has more than two dozen small campgrounds scattered throughout the Black Hills National Forest. None have showers or dump stations. Water and trash disposal is provided during the summer. The Dow National Forest Campground Guide is a great source of information for these nice campgrounds.
A few miles east of Custer, in the southeast corner of the Black Hills region, Custer State Park offers eight well-maintained public campgrounds. Some of these are located on small fishing lakes and have boating, swimming, a store, a playground, showers, and other accommodations.
Game Lodge Campground provides a dump station and horse camp facilities. These are very nice campgrounds with large paved sites. Also, Wind Cave National Park, just south of Custer State Park, has a very nice camping facility at Elk Mountain Campground. Finding a good campground that will meet your particular needs is not a problem in the Black Hills!
No matter what your interests, there are a multitude of great attractions to choose from in the Black Hills area. The Spearfish Canyon and the 70-mile Norbeck Scenic Drives are out of this world! Wind Cave, as well as Jewel Cave, tours are simply awe-inspiring. At the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve you can observe wild elk, deer, and goats; or, marvel over the largest buffalo herd in the world in Custer State Park.
Hiking is superb in the Black Hills. The Centennial Trail is 111 miles long but has over two dozen access points, and the going is easy to moderate. Also, the Harney Range Trails are actually twelve trails where campers can hike an hour or for days.
You may want to hike up to Harney Peak! The Crazy Horse Memorial, in honor of the great chief of the Oglala Sioux, is a monument in progress that you don’t want to miss seeing! His carved face was completed in 1998; and when finished the statue will be some 600 ft. high. Tours are provided and donations accepted to help pay for the work.
It’s All Here
And so, the list goes on and on. The Black Hills of South Dakota is a fantastic area that no American should miss experiencing. Just the drive to this beautiful area is an adventure. The Badlands National Park is just off I-90 to the east, and the Devils Tower is to the west.
Also, no trip to the Badlands area would be complete without a stop at famous Wall Drug. A famous old western town, Deadwood, offers legalized gaming and is located near Sturgis, South Dakota.
You just might want to visit Miss Kitty’s Saloon and Casino! But, most important of all, the camping in the Black Hills is super and the scenic beauty and tranquility rather spiritual in nature. After all, the Sioux believe the Black Hills to be “the heart of everything that is.”