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Old 12-22-2009, 02:25 PM   #1
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South Dakota Trip for 2010

My wife and I are in the starting stage of planning a trip to the Black Hills July 2010 before Sturgis Rally. We are seriously looking at staying in Rafter J-Bar Campground. We are planning on arriving on Sunday and Leaving on Thursday.
So we have about 5 days to venture around and take in plenty of sites and other activities. http://www.rafterj.com/
My questions are:
1) Have you stayed at Rafter J?
2) Would you suggest a different location instead of Rafter J?
3) What "Camp" did you stay in? (There are different "Camps" within the campground).
4) What did you like or dislike about their location?

I look forward to hearing from you and any advice you may have for us.
This will be the first time I have been there since 1982. My wife has never been to the Black Hills.
Thank you again for any help.
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:25 PM   #2
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Big Pine Campground

Two years ago this summer we took a very similar trip to the bad lands and Custer SD. We stayed at Big Pine Campground just outside Custer and really like it. It is very centrally located for Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wall Drug and the two caves (national parks) in the area. What we really liked about the campground was that it was more like some of the State Parks with lots of trees yet it had full hookups. The only thing I disliked was that the WiFi Internet connection was bad unless you were near the office. The campground was out of town yet close enough that you could make a quick trip into town for supplies. BTW this was our third trip to the area from Chicago and we plan to go again in a couple of years.

Hope this helps

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Old 02-24-2010, 11:50 AM   #3
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Hey Daryl,

You might look into the Hill City KOA. We stayed there in 2008 during the rally. Puts you smack in the middle of the Black Hills. 5 miles from Rushmore.

Regards, Hamshog

http://www.koa.com/where/sd/41125/
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Old 02-24-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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We took a lot of advice and checked many different locations and found that we prefered Raft J-Bar Ranch Campground. We made and paid for reservations for Sunday July 25th to Thursday July 29th.
We are staying in the "Ranch Camp"
http://www.rafterj.com/rjbarmap.html
because that camp has full hook ups which is what we wanted since we are going to be there for 4 days. Other locations had full hook ups as well, but we heard some good reports about Rafter J-Bar Ranch Campground.
I will give my honest and full report once we return from our trip.
My wife is really excited about the trip. She has never been to South Dakota.
Thank you for your suggestions for different campgrounds. This is our first trip to South Dakota. I am sure we will go back again in a few more years. We will check out other places while we are there.
Thanks again for your help and suggestions.
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:41 PM   #5
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South Dakota Trip Report/Update

Sandy and I returned from our 8 adventure trip to Shouth Dakota.
If you read my original post, we made reservations for a place called
"Rafter J Bar Campground" located in Hill City, South Dakota.
After all the reports I read from other people regarding Rafter J, I can say that I was not dissappointed one bit.
In this photo, the office is behind me and to the right. Basically in front of the pool as you are looking at the pool from this picture.
The line of campers in the back ground is the "Line Camp". Very little shade in most of these sites. The line of trees to the far right is where "Ranch Camp" is located and where we located for 5 of the 8 days.


In this photo, you will see our site and the site on the left of our site. Behind us is the "Ranch Camp" bathroom/shower/laundry facilities. Very clean and neat and kept that way all day long.


Then of course we stopped at Mount Rushmore. We decided to wait for the lighting ceremony. If you have not been to Mount Rushmore or planning to soon, be sure to visit just before dark and stay for the lighting ceremony.


We were very delighted that we stayed at Rafter J and would HIGHLY recommend this place to anyone that would ask us. We did visit Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Spearfish Canyon, RoughRock Falls, Cosmos Center, Bear Country and the city of Keystone.

Our trip was troublefree for our F150 and the Jayflight. Our freinds have a couple of Yamaha Rhinos that we took up in the mountains on Thursday and Friday and overlooked the city of Nemo. (Picture to follow in next post).
We had a breakdown in one of the Rhinos, but we took along some "Viewing Fluid" to help ease the pain of the break down while his wife came with the truck and trailer to bring us back with the broke down "Bad" Rhino and the "Good" Rhino as we are now calling them.


Thanks for looking!!!
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:12 PM   #6
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Thanks for the great photos and the campground assessment. Quick question--is "Viewing Fluid" only for breakdowns? If so, I would respectfully suggest that you have the names of the Rhinos backwards!
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:13 PM   #7
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Thanks for the update Daryl and Sandy...

The day we did Mt Rushmore it stormed BIGTIME! Lightning, reallllly loud thunder (scared me to death!), and pouring rain! For those kayakers out there... Don and I also enjoyed Lk Sheridan and Pactola Resovior... I would recommend these both for kayaking.
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Black Hills South Dakota - Lk Sheridan view1.jpg   Black Hills South Dakota Pactola Resevoir 2 Don.jpg  
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:21 PM   #8
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We did visit Lake Sheridan and Pactola Lake. We also stopped at a great little place to eat called "Sugar Shack".
A word of caution, if you are not real hungry, do not stopped here. Their hamburgers are HUGE. If you are really hungry, I dare you to order a double.

Pactola Lake late evening


Here is the "Bad" Rhino before we left. Loaded up on the back is my "Budweiser" cooler. And by the way, (Texas Sam) the viewing fluid was used before, during and after the breakdown.
The spare tire on top was of no help for this breakdown.


This is overlooking the city of Nemo


From left to Right:
Ray, his wife Angie (Sandys' Niece), their daughter Grace, My wife Sandy and Me in the black T-Shirt.
If you look at the white shirts close enough, you will see some mud. It rained a little before we left. What a great time!!


Thanks for looking and sharing your comments!!!
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:19 PM   #9
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We've stayed at the Whispering Pines Campground every summer for a couple weeks-- and we've always had a good time! It's clean, quiet, and the ppl that run it are friendly.
http://www.blackhillswhisperingpines.com/
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:28 PM   #10
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Word of caution-- if it starts to hail get your truck under a cover. 4 years ago a hail storm totaled our Grand Cherokee-- hail the size of soft balls (and no I'm not kidding)-- every window busted-- about every inch of that Jeep had huge dents. We saw a horse get taken out. It was major bummer-- but luckily the storm didn't make it to Whispering Pines.
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