South Dakota Trip Part 1 –Why Sturgis?

Back around 2005 I got a yearning to take an RV trip to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore.  We didn’t actually take this trip until 2007 so I had lots of time to research and make our plans.  Mt. Rushmore is outside of Rapid City, South Dakota that, I’m sure, has acceptable RV parks.  But, instead we chose to stay in Sturgis, South Dakota, the town that is famous for it’s annual motorcycle rally.  Why Sturgis?  In my research I discovered that there was an awful lot of interesting sites to see in South Dakota besides Mt. Rushmore and Sturgis was a central location that was great for taking day long site seeing trips.  So we chose to stay at the Elkview Campground located at 13014 Pleasant Valley Rd. in Sturgis, South Dakota. From this location we were :

  • 27 miles from Rapid City
  • 47 miles from Mt. Rushmore
  • 60 miles from Crazy Horse Memorial
  • 58 miles from Custer State Park
  • 13.9 miles from Deadwood
  • 87 miles from Badlands National Park
  • 85 miles from Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming

And this is only a partial list of the sites to see in this part of the country!

When we called to make our reservations we were told that we wouldn’t need them. They said that the only time that was necessary was during the first week in August when the rally was held.  But, we made them anyway.

DSC00513They were right.  We were practically the only folks there.  There were a couple of other RVer’s over in another section of the campground that weren’t even visible from where we were.

This was really a great place.  Not only were there full hook-ups but it has an excellent laundry room that was wonderful to have available on a long trip.  And….. I think we paid $20 a day.  When I originally found this place it was only $10 a day and it’s now up to $22.  At $10 or $22 it’s a great deal compared to what it would cost were it in California.

Sturgis RV Park !

Every evening deer would come from this wooded section, cross through the campground and head for the creek on the other side.  We also had wild turkeys passing through.  Lovely views of nature, wild life, no crowds, central to tourist sites with the comfort of hook-ups all at a great price…what more could you ask for?  Well, it would be great if all RV parks in this area of the country stated…”USING AWNINGS NOT ADVISED!”

On the afternoon that we arrived it was hot and muggy (which seemed odd) and as we were setting up we could see in the distance a mass of black clouds moving towards us.  My dad suggested that we put out our awnings for a little protection in case we got some rain.  Here that makes sense…..there it doesn’t.  As the black mass came closer a wind started to whip up and Greg decided that maybe he didn’t want the awning up after all.  Just as he placed his hand on one of the arms of the awning the storm struck and the arm of the awning was ripped out of his hand, ripped OFF of the trailer and started flailing about striking the side of the trailer and endangering anything in it’s path!  Then the rain came and along with it the hail…..hail the size and shape of chicken eggs.  I was stuck inside the trailer at this time with the wind literally bouncing it up and down off the ground.  I looked outside and Greg along with my mom and dad were all holding onto the awning to keep it from continuing to thrash everything around it.  They were all being soaked with rain and worse, pelted with those huge hail stones!  Within minutes the storm passed and I went outside just in time to help hold onto the awning as the second part of the storm came through.  This time I was being pelted with the hail stones along with everyone else and we watched as lighting strikes hit the ground all around us.  I remember thinking,as I’m being hit in the head by the hail, wow…this is the kind of hail that you hear about on the news that can break windshields and cause concussions.  Well, it didn’t give us a concussion but, dang, it hurt!

Later, after we cleaned up the damage (Greg found his hat in the other section of the RV park and somehow one side of his shorts were ripped from the bottom up to the waistband!) and changed into dry clothes, we drove into Sturgis to eat dinner at a restaurant feeling shell shocked. While in the restaurant the waitress heard our story and said, “Oh, we don’t use awnings in South Dakota.”  The next day the owner of the RV park drove by to find out how we’d weathered the storm.  We told her our story and she said, “We don’t use awnings in South Dakota.”  In fact, this was repeated to us by EVERYONE we encountered there.  So, really, for the sake of us California weather sissies, it would be awesome if they would add that info to their RV park information. 

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful stay there and even found a local RV repairman who came to us and repaired our awning on site, as well as some other things, all for an incredibly reasonable price.  Mom and Dad’s motorhome suffered no damage other than holes in their awning from the hail.  Because they were facing in the opposite direction as us their awning remained attached to their RV. 

Would I go to this place again? Yes, I sure would, in a heart beat!

DSC00521This was a very relaxing place to be after a day of site seeing.  And, after that initial rude greeting, we now know what those approaching dark clouds may bring and would therefore be prepared.  (Notice that my parents are sitting outside their motorhome without the awning.) 

Stay tuned…more to come. This trip started with a bang, didn’t it?


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