Tag Archives: South Dakota

2017 – Farm Island State Recreation Area, Pierre, SD

20170818_145911.jpg 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.

20170818_141312.jpg 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.

20170821_123147.jpg 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.

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2017 – Sightseeing Pierre, South Dakota

20170819_141359.jpg With less than 14,000 residents, Pierre, South Dakota is the second smallest state capital. We stayed in Farm Island State Recreation Area on the edge of town. Although it was cool in the morning when I walked it warmed up in the afternoon so we went into town for an ice cream cone and a few groceries. We stopped by the state capitol and saw the beautiful grounds including a park area with the Veteran’s Memorial and fountain. At one time there was enough natural gas in the water that a flame was lit from it, causing fire to “float” above the water. However, the level of natural gas has dropped and, while there is still the odor of gas, it is no longer the famous “flaming fountain.” There are several walking paths and another flowing fountain as well. Afterward we went to a busy Zestos ice cream for a tasty cone. As we drove around town I saw beautiful old buildings, many biking-hiking trails, and lovely homes with playgrounds nearby. For shoppers there is a Walmart, Menards, and small shopping Mall. While Pierre isn’t a tourist destination, we did enjoy some relaxing downtime there.

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2017 – Codington County Memorial Park, Watertown, SD

20170817_122053.jpg 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.

20170814_115726.jpg 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!

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