I love South Dakota! My wife and I are here for a well needed weeks vacation. She’s running and hanging out with the dogs, and I’m mountain biking around all the trails near Black Elk Wilderness. This is our second time in this great State. The first time was in early fall 2018, more than a year before the pandemic. People were normal, no masks, no six feet distancing, and no waiting in long lines for take out food that loses the flavor it would have had, had it been served on plates rather than out of a styrofoam container in a plastic bag. However, from what I understand, South Dakota went the way of Florida and that was a non-issue. Goody for them!
But I’m not here to talk about politics and health management, I’m hear to talk about how to have a GREAT vacation in the rolling hills an black forest of South Dakota. Also, in keeping with my promise of expanding this site beyond just mountain biking and hiking, I am adding more about our other passion, RVing. Therefore, with no further ado, here I go…
First of all we drove up here from our home in Woodland Park, Colorado. The drive, which was supposed to be around seven hours ended up being closer to nine. That wasn’t due to any weather, just pee stops and lunch for my wife and the dogs. Overall our 2021 Solitude is a pretty good rig, although I’ve had a couple of warranty issues, but on this trip we stopped for lunch and found that my co-pilot forgot to latch the shower doors after she cleaned last, and we ended up with about 20 pounds of glass in the bottom of the shower. I’m not a plumber, but I’m guessing that’s not good for the drain, so once we landed at the Mt. Rushmore Resort & Lodge at Palmer Gulch KOA I was able to shovel out and vacuum up all the glass so we wouldn’t have shredded feet after each shower.
Speaking of KOA. I’ve always enjoyed their properties. I can only think of two (Buena Vista CO, and Gunnison, CO) where I haven’t had an absolute great experience. Those to being either dangerous (Buena Vista due to the poor and sometimes outright dangerous roads in the campground) and just outright rude (Gunnison, Co). Other than that most of them have been outright perfect. They’re a known quantity by the way. You almost always know what you’re going to get. However, the KOA in South Dakota is on a next level awesome!
This KOA has everything you can think of. It certainly is a resort. When we got here there was an actual rodeo happening. That’s right…a rodeo! They have a rodeo grounds on the campus. In addition, they have a pool, water park, pancake breakfast, taco night every night (except we got here after it closed for the season), horse back riding, bar restaurants, ice cream, bike shop, two gift shops, cabins, houses, tent space, and of course space for our 40ft Solitude. To add to that we’re only about six miles from Mt. Rushmore, which is just up the highway.
Now that’s the RV part of the trip. Now let’s talk about the trails! I have gone mountain biking every day. I mean, I live in a mountain bike mecca so it’s hard to impress me, but this place has some nice trails. You can’t ride in the Wilderness but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot around that you can ride. We are halfway in-between Hill City and Keystone, and the riding isn’t all that bad. It’s nice to a actually ride on dirt and not rock and sand for a change. Not that there aren’t some rocks, but it’s not horrible.
To add to all this the people are really very nice here. They’re nice in most of Colorado too except for Colorado Springs. I’m really not sure what’s wrong with those people, but I’ve never seen one that wasn’t pissed off you’re on the same trail they’re on. When I’m riding in near my home in Woodland Park, I can always tell a local from someone from the Springs. The locals say Hi.
Anyway, all in all this has been a great trip. Lots of trails, lots to do in the campground and plenty of shopping for my wife in Rapid City. We leave Saturday where I get to find out if I still have a day job. I work in IT and it’s the annual we’re going to lay you off to raise our stock price season, so with my head on the chopping block, I thought I’d take some time to post what has been a really great vacation!