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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > TR (sort of) - was "Black Hills Boondocking"

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btggraphix

Golden, CO

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Posted: 10/03/11 01:00pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It's been a while since I have scanned the Trip Reports link as I usually catch them when they are actually posted.....wow, there are a lot in there now and I also realize I need to add a few since I have been a slacker on that lately. In any case, I couldn't find any that included the Black Hills unless they were within portions of the bigger trips.

So, having said that, we'll be heading up there this weekend, with a good 4 days worth of time there. I've been up there many times as a kid, but we were always camping in Rapid City and just driving up to the hills during the day.

We are planning on doing Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse. We plan on doing some bike riding on the George S. Mickelson Trail that strethes the whole length of the Black Hills north to south (a rails-to-trails project.) May or may not make it to Leede/Homestake area or to Devil's Tower.

My preference is to find a good boondocking site(s) (i.e. 'dispersed camping') within the National Forest that is relatively close to the Mickelson Trail and/or the highways....hopefully somewhere north of the town of Custer that we can use as a basecamp and day drive elsewhere.

Any suggestions would be great (or things you've especially enjoyed in the Black Hills.)

We might end up starting out at either Mt. Rushmore or Wind Cave in regular campgrounds and then start searching out boondocking locales.

Thanks!

(PM me if you don't want to post about specific places and I will not pass them on.) As much as anything I'd love to see something like "

edit - to change title and bring back up......

* This post was edited 12/23/11 03:32pm by btggraphix *


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Capt. Caper

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Posted: 10/03/11 03:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There is a Fed campground off RT 16 just a few miles south from Keystone we stayed at for a few bucks. Central located. You can't miss it. Keystone has a town dump/water station in town. Very nice place. Camp Hosts were great.
No hook ups but a truck camper can get in o.k.Fire pits.


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ab257

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Posted: 10/03/11 03:37pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We were just at Custer State Park, at the Stockade lake campground. Very nice. Found out the narrowest tunnel in the Needles scenic drive will pass an unloaded dually, but we didn't try it.


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DesertHawk

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Posted: 10/03/11 04:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have never done any disperse camping there, but it seems they do allow it. Dispersed Camping

This campground is near Jewell Cave, Comanche Park, we drove through it but did not stay.

We stayed at Bismarck Lake CG the last time we were there.

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. http://www.visitcuster.com/

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.


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 was at least 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.

We saw someone waving at a glass blowing shop when riding the Hill City Tain; we went back to see it, a neat place, friendly people.....Black Hills Glass Blowers.

My son went on a motorcycle ride and got it bogged down in a wet area in the forest road (almost like quick sand, with water bubbling up like a spring in the road), I took his pickup to him to tow it out. It was in an area, if I remember correctly, which might have some sites suited for dispersed camping. It was off US 16 east of Custer (the town), just before getting into Custer State Park, north side of the highway near the last commercial campground/RV park (maybe Wagon Wheels something?), take Heller Rd, which intersects CO Rd 345 (America Center Rd) follow it pass some houses/homes; there will be forest roads off this road. There had been some recent wood cutting done in the area he was in.

PS: my son drove his dully through the tunnels. Several times. Not sure about hight wise for a TC.

* This post was edited 10/03/11 04:25pm by DesertHawk *


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TexasShadow

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Posted: 10/03/11 04:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

haven't seen any plain old dispersed places, but there are three or 4 fed campgrounds north of Custer, off 385 and 244.
Horsethief Lake Campground is one of them. Search Horsethief Lake Campground, SD.


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dadwolf2

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Posted: 10/03/11 05:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I realize this isn't dispersed camping but it's more FYI: We were up in Custer State Park Sep 15th. Sylvan lake campground closed for the winter on the 19th and I think the rest of the state park campgrounds in CSP closed a week later. It snowed while we were there.

* This post was edited 10/03/11 05:59pm by dadwolf2 *


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btggraphix

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Posted: 10/04/11 08:41am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks guys, this is a great start.

Mr. Norsky - thanks for the current update - the weather is supposed to be cold and rainy (perfect TC'ing weather!) starting Friday (lows down near freezing) so perhaps the danger will have reduced a bit.

Realtor, I'll do a little searching on that camp....it's pretty close to where I think we are going to settle in - fairly central to things and not that far from the Mickelson Trail.

SD-Owner/OP - Good to know there might be spots along that strecth of highway...the drawback there it seems is...the highway. There is one USFS campground along that road and the highway does concern me a bit.

DesertHawk - thanks for the detailed post. I notice you said you stayed at Bismark Lake last time, but didn't comment on how much you liked it. Is there a reason for that? We will be going up Thursday evening and arriving relatively early on Friday and since our friends will be meeting us there, I am thinking of just planning on going to Bismatrk Lake (close to town and should be easy for our friends to find us late Friday night. Then we'll kind of play it by ear and if we come across something better in the next day or two we might move. I think my wife and I might go over to the Trail Friday during the day and scout out some of the other places suggested and perhaps look for a spot to boondock North of Custer.

Thanks also for the comments about the place where your kid got stuck. That isn't far at all from Bismark Lake CG, so it would be an easy one for me to check out during the day on Friday and if suitable, nmight work out great. I'll try to keep my 18,500 pound rig from driving through quicksand...... Though there are probably trees so my winch might do the job of pulling me out - it's a good reminder to keep in the back of my brain somewhere to pull out when I'm looking at a soft spot [emoticon]

From the several posts, it sounds like Horsethief CG is a good bet as well, at least assuming not packed. It's aways from Wind Cave but well located for Mount Rushmore and that area. I wouldn't mind hiking Harney Peak...though I am not sure how challenging/time consuming a hike it is.

Dadwolf2, thanks for the info about CG closures in Custer SP. Looks like we'll probably be outside that park anyway, but good to know. My buddy was leaning towards the SP to begin with so that's a good reminder to call for status.

Realtor - I might check out that camp you mentioned too.

Thanks again for the info everyone.....I still have a couple of days so if you have any more comments, fire away.

SDcampowneroperator

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Posted: 10/03/11 06:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Use google maps to find a wide spot along any usfs road. Many nice locations along the Mickelson trail between Hill City & Custer. Enjoy your Boondock!

realter

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Posted: 10/03/11 09:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There is a Lutheran camp 6 miles NorthWest of Custer, I spent some time there in the 80's, but they have been open since 1969. The name is Lee Valley Ranch. A very pretty area.

* This post was edited 10/03/11 09:47pm by realter *

The Mad Norsky

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Posted: 10/04/11 12:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You need to know this:

Black Hills very dry, high fire danger


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