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Open Roads Forum  >  RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions

 > Black Hills or North Shore in July?

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Dan_T

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Posted: 05/17/11 11:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are planning our vacation for the last two weeks of July. We are trying to decide between the Black Hills in SD or the North Shore in Mn. Their will be six adults ages 25 to 65 and two children 10 and 13. We are kind of split on where to go. I have never been to SD but I am not sure that July would be a good time to go their? Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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shayerk

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Posted: 05/17/11 11:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have been to both areas with kids. I think there is much more for kids to do in the Black Hills than up on the North Shore.


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DesertHawk

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Posted: 05/17/11 01:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Not sure of crowding issues, the Black Hills get lodes of folks in the summer, but is it is a large area with all kinds of things to do. Temps can vary I am sure, we have been there when it was hot, cool, and wet, depending on the weather, but hot days shouldn't last long I am thinking. But with weather it changes. For the North Shore in MN, I am sure it can get lodes of people as well. Very pretty area.

We went up to Thunder Bay from Duluth, MN along the shore of Lake Superior using MN 61. We only spent one night in Canada, we stayed the night at a visitor center/welcome center outside of town. We were in a C-class MH. This was in 2001. The drive from Duluth to the border is really nice, neat vistas, a lighthouse and neat StateParks along the way. Such as: Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche, Grand Portage, Cascade River and Judge C.R. Magney. We spend one night at Gooseberry Falls State Park going up as well.

Things to do. We went to Fort William Historical Park very neat place.

We had stopped at Grand Portage National Monument, which was equally good if not better; just before we left the US to go into Canada.

Looks like some do have electric: Tettegouche. But not Full Hookups.

.....RV Park Reviews......

If you are in the Twin Cities, MN Area, there are lots to see.

A Neat Cabela's @ Owatonna, Minnesota. Neat Wildlife Displays, Aquariums, etc. Also at Rogers, MN, the newest in the state, and a small one in East Grand Forks, MN. No sales tax in MN on clothing and shoes.

Mall of America in Bloomington.

We have gone to the Black Hills around Custer, SD several times, it is a very nice place with many things to see in the area.

Custer State Park A Neat Area

Mount Rushmore Area

Custer State Park has campgrounds scatter all over the area, they are all very nice. We have stay several times at the Stockade Lake campgrounds North & South. These are the closest to Custer the town. The last time we were there (2008), we stayed at Bismarck Lake CG a Black Hills Nat'l Forest CG just across the road (kind of) from the Stockade North & South, just a few miles (maybe 3 or 4) from the town of Custer. We enjoyed it, very nice area, very quite, nice camp host. More like camping. The sites are more private than the Stockage South or North for that matter. But no showers or flush toilets (pit toilets were new & clean). Almost the same cost as Stockade North but less for me due to Senior Card.

Horse Thief Lake CG is also a Black Hills Nat'l Forest CG, very close to Mt Rushmore. It would be a nice one as well. My son had stayed at it before. There is also a private Horse Thief RV Resort which is closer to Hill City.

Not that I have been to any of the RV Resorts, I have read much about Rafter J in the Black Hills of SD. If you are looking for a resort type place, but there are may RV parks in the area, many in town of Custer, SD. RV Park Reviews

Custer State Park Info and list of Campgrounds in the State Park.

My son stayed at Pactola Campground. They liked it. For other Black Hills Forest Campgrounds: Pactola- "The elevation is 4,700 ft. Campground is comprised of mature pines with some sites overlooking Pactola Reservoir. There are three loops - A, B and C with numerous walk-in tent sites. Except for grass, there is little understory. There are several worthwhile things to do that are reasonably accessible from the campground. They are the Jewel Cave National Monument, Mt. Rushmore National Monument, Custer State Park (with the scenic Needles Highway, Harney Peak and the State Game Loop), Crazy Horse Monument and Wind Cave National Park."

Note: Custer State Park has only two campgrounds with dump stations it seems, one at FRENCH CREEK HORSE CAMP (Equestrian use only) which is 3 miles from Blue Bell CG and one at Game Lodge CG which is near Grace Coolidge. However, there is at one maybe more service stations where you can dump in Custer (the town), often free if buying fuel. They have a list at the state park entry station I believe.

Also to camp in or tour Custer State Park there was a fee- Temporary (1-7 day) license: $6 per person or $15 per vehicle; Annual License: $28; Motorcycle Rally License: $10/motorcycle (valid Aug 2 - Aug 22, 2010). "Custer State Park boasts several scenic drives that explore the diversity of the area. From the granite spires of Needles Highway to the bison along WIldlife Loop Road." One must do the driving tours. Some are off the paved roads along the Wildlife Loop, but are well worth seeing the Bison and the roads are not bad. Not sure if it has change since we were there or not.

The Devils Tower Nat'l Mon't in WY is neat to see as well and is not too far from the Black Hills.
[image]
Leaving Campground Devil's Tower

Deadwood is north west of Custer.....lot of History happened there, but is more of a Gaming Center now if into gambling.

If wanting to see more Bison, up in North Dakota, Teddy Roosevelt had lots of Bison, even in the campground at times, I would not want to miss staying in the park if at all possible, IMHO. You might like what the town of Medora, ND has to offer.

Saw a few horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park's south unit and north unit in North Dakota. They came into the campground along with some Bison as well as being along some parts of the loop road.

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Bison in Custer SP:
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Around a Bend -July 2006
Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train by Hill City

We had also stopped at the Teddy Roosevelt Nat’l Park North Unit near Watford, ND for a night around July 19-2009. We had been there last year, but this year we found the first 6 or 7 miles from the entrance was under construction, very dusty and slow going. But we got to see many Bison. It was very quite there, overall we enjoyed it a lot. Should be a nice roadway this coming season.

[image]
North Unit, T Roosevelt's Juniper Campground - very nice, very quite!

[image]
Clifts in shadows North Unit at T. Roosevelt.

Black Hills or North Shore? Depends on what you guys would like to do. If July Temps are running hot in the Black Hills, maybe it would be cooler along Lake Superior. Can't say, never been there in July.
Black Hills Tourism vs North Shore Attractions

* This post was last edited 05/17/11 02:02pm by DesertHawk *   View edit history


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MinnCamper

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Posted: 05/17/11 02:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You've gotten some great information so far. The Black Hills is definitely more touristy with kid stuff to do. As for the North Shore of Minnesota. Spend some time near Duluth. There is a train that you can ride from downtown up the shore and back. It's fun and very scenic. You can also tour a ship in the harbor and watch the big ships come in. Just south of Duluth is Spirit MOuntain ski area. They have a campground and in the summer they have a ride where you can go down the mountain on. It's new and very fun. There is whitewater rafting in the area if you are into that.

There are many state parks north of Duluth including Gooseberry falls where kids (and adults) can climb on the rocks and visit the visitor center while seeing the falls up close. Then there is Split Rock Lighthouse where you can tour the lighthouse manager's house and take a guided tour. There are lots of hiking trails in the area - one of the best is just outside of Temperance River State Park - it's a fairly easy hike up to a point where you can get beautiful views of the entire area. Temperance River SP is the only state park with electric sites, but it's a beautiful park. Just north of this park is Lutsen ski area and in the summer months you can take a gondola ride up to the top and have lunch.

Fort William Historical Park up by the canadian border is fun for everyone. They have characters dressed up for the fur trading times and are doing activities from the period. Further north in Thunder Bay Canada is another fort (Fort William I believe). We haven't been there, but I've heard good things about it. Of course if you head into canada the kids can tell everyone they went to another country. Just don't forget your passports.

newk

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Posted: 05/18/11 11:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've only been up on the North Shore twice and live near the Black Hills, so I may be prejudiced by that, but I think the Black Hills would offer more to keep you occupied for a couple weeks. There are tons of things to do in the Hills in the summer -- dinosaur digs (Hot Springs), wild animals (Custer State Park), caves throughout the hills, history (Deadwood, etc.), Devils Tower Nat'l Monument, WY (first national monument), Badlands Nat'l Monument (Wall), Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse. The list could go on and on.

As for temps, July isn't usually too bad in the Hills. I'd guess that normally it's more comfortable than the North Shore, but I'm basing that my own limited experience which found temps of 105 as far north as Thunder Bay in late June, and that was with very high humidity -- and lots of biting insects.

If it's just too hot in the Hills, it's not a long drive to the Bighorns in Wyoming where it's always cool -- about three hours on I-90. These are tall mountains topping out at over 13,000 feet. Just keep going up until it's cool enough! [emoticon]

The Sturgis Bike Rally doesn't start until early August, so crowds aren't likely to be too terrible.

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