Heartland RV Park is located in Hermosa, SD – a few miles south of Rapid City and about 15 minutes from one of the entrances to Custer State Park. This is a large, well-laid-out park. Sites and roads are good gravel and site spacing is close but not quite on top of one another. Most of the sites are just long enough for the camping unit but plenty of parking is across the road from the campsites. The campground has decent WiFi, cable TV, a pool, and laundry rooms. There’s a camp store and a new activity building is just being completed. Also it looks as if the campground itself is being expanded. The staff is constantly out and about, keeping things in good shape.
The location itself is interesting because it is at the edge of the Black Hills which are mostly hidden from view because of the terrain. The immediate vicinity of the campground is treeless, rolling hills but within a couple of minutes of the campground the beauty of the area is plainly visible just to the west and within minutes of leaving the campground and heading west you are driving through it all. Rapid City is an easy 20 miles away.
For us, the campground struck a balance between being close to the state park, but with full hookups and an easy drive versus being right in the middle of it all but either being in the state park with electric only or driving through twisting, sometimes steep grades to a commercial campground in the Black Hills. Also, this park has the distinction of accepting Passport America and Escapees half price rates with no stay limit or blackout dates. You definitely want one of these two memberships if you are going to stay here.
Aside from being just slightly outside the beauty of the Black Hills the only other negative is the constant noise from highway 79, the primary north/south route in the area. Our site was in the row farthest from the highway so the noise wasn’t quite as bad as it was in the rows along the highway. The traffic is 24/7 so it is something you have to make peace with during a stay at this campground.
We found this to be a good spot for us as a place to stay while exploring the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.
We were looking for a campground with full hookups near Badlands National Park and Wall Drug and Arrow Campground in Wall, SD was one of our two choices. This is an older campground that is showing its age. We ended up in an area with a crew of construction workers. The hard working people left early in the morning and returned in the evening. Some of the campsites are set up with sites “back to back” so our neighbor’s 20 year old travel trailer on the driver’s side was pretty close. I’m sure we could have stayed in a different site had I asked. (Note to self: speak up!) The bathhouse was clean, but worn. After we were starting to set up I realized that there had been a sewer backup on the site on the other side of our camper at some point that needed to be cleaned up. However, someone cleaned it up shortly after that. Wall Drug is close by and if you don’t mind walking across some railroad tracks, it is easy walking distance. Speaking of the railroad tracks, we heard, I think just one train a day and none at night. One of the entrances to Badlands National Park is just a few miles south of town. Campground WiFi wasn’t very good but my Verizon 4G was fine. I had no problem getting my Dish Network satellites. On a future trip I think I’d try the other park or maybe forgo staying at or around Wall and just drive out from the Rapid City area.
After driving nearly 200 miles across the corn and hay fields of the South Dakota Prairie we dropped into the Missouri River Valley and arrived at a beautiful lakeside campground on the outskirts of Pierre, SD. Farm Island Recreation Area is a pretty spot with large, level sites and 50 amp electrical hookups. There is a convenient water and dump station near the entrance. We arrived, happily with reservations, on an August Friday afternoon and the campground was nearly full. There were many families and the kids had a blast swimming in the lake. The lake is fed by the Missouri River. It has a sandy bottom and is pretty shallow for a good distance out – making it perfect for children. Because of the layout of the campground only a fourth of the sites are by the water. Because of that, people pretty much walk through those sites to get to the lake. I know some people get bent out of shape when that happens, but at this campground it’s just the way it is. We smiled and said “hello” and they smiled in return. By Sunday evening, though, that was all over. The place was nearly empty and we pretty much had the campground to ourselves the rest of our stay.
Here are a few things you might want to know if you plan on visiting Farm Island. In addition to the camping fee there is a South Dakota State Parks vehicle entry fee of $6 a day. Since we were intending to stay four days and then visit Custer State Park later on we got a $30 annual pass instead. There is also a $7.50 out of state booking fee. I had no problem getting satellite TV which is a good thing because I don’t think there was any over the air TV. My Verizon signal was solid. When I tested the water with our TDS meter it reported numbers as high as 1000. That’s really high and at the limit of what is considered fit for human consumption. I suggest you bring drinking water. Finally, the flies are real pests throughout this area. Be prepared to defend yourself unless the wind is blowing.
Our final day at Farm Island was “eclipse day.” We woke to a severe thunderstorm that was pretty scary – wind, hail, and a downpour. Really, we should have bugged out to one of the shower houses. However, the storm was on us before we knew it. After 10 or 15 minutes of (thankfully) small hail, things let up. We feared the heavy clouds would block our view of the eclipse which was at nearly 90% for the area. However, at just the right time the skies cleared and we had a good view of the impressive display of God’s handiwork.
As I understand it Codington County Memorial Park, Watertown, SD, was originally a YMCA property. There are several old buildings, still in use, that were part of that operation. The campground has a variety of sites, ranging from long full hookup pull-throughs down to no-hookup tenting sites. This campground accepts reservations and also offers weekly and monthly rates. There are both 30 and 50 amps sites and we were charged a couple of dollars extra for a 50. Many of the sites offer great views of Lake Kampeska. The pull-through sites are near the lake, but the hookups are shared so you end up back to back and face to face with your neighbors. Considering how long the sites are, that’s probably not much of an issue. Another section of full hookups are back in, shady sites, but not along the lake. That’s where we stayed. Several water/electric sites are close to the lake, really, some of the nicest sites in the park. It was a struggle because of our location, but I did manage to get the primary eastern arc Dish Network satellite (there was no chance of getting the western ones). I think it would have been a piece of cake to get satellite in any of the pull-throughs. My Verizon signal was good, offering fast data speeds. Being that the campground is around 12 miles west of I29, it’s probably not a good candidate for an overnight stop for those traveling north or south on the interstate. Still, it’s a pretty nice campground if it fits your travel plans.
On a related note, our arrival in South Dakota was a milestone for us. South Dakota completed our goal of visiting all 50 states! Not all of that was done in the RV but through the years, we’ve been privileged to at least set foot in all the states. Pretty cool, huh!
Wahpeton, North Dakota is located right on the Minnesota state line, around 45 miles south of Fargo. The state line is formed by the Red River, which flows to the north into Canada. The town has two small campgrounds and we spent the night at Kidder Recreation Area in a nice, paved back in spot with 30 amp electric and water hookups. The Red River is just a stone’s throw from the campground and many locals come to the park to fish, or maybe just to cruise through to the turnaround and back out creating a flow of traffic through the campground. There are restrooms and showers plus a dump station that, for some reason, is set up to be used coming into the campground rather than leaving it. There is a pay station at the campground, but if you want to call ahead and pay the city will mark a site with your name so you won’t have to worry about arriving and finding all the sites taken. On our August Sunday night four of the eight sites were in use. You might want to know that the electric/water hookups are located between the sites with the even numbers having hookups on the accustomed driver’s side.
Mention, of course, must be made of the “World’s Largest Catfish” statue which is at the campground. We couldn’t resist taking a few photos!
Since our stay was a short one I didn’t set up the satellite dish, but I’m confident I would have gotten a signal. My Verizon signal was nearly full scale. While this campground isn’t a destination spot (except maybe for people who love giant catfish statues) it works as a nice place to land for a night or two.