We have spent the last three weeks in the Black Hills of Custer South Dakota. The campsite, Broken Arrow RV and Horse Campground, has been wonderful. The park is located about three miles outside Custer State Park and an easy mountain drive between the regions best tourist locations. We have traveled the 45 minutes to Rapid City twice (to Walmart). Rapid City/Custer/Keystone/Hot Spring all have their pluses in terms of location. To us, Custer was more centrally located but we could see staying In Rapid City especially with younger kids as there are plenty of things do and if one wanted to travel to The Badlands or a little further out west on day trips. As we were staying a month, everything we wanted to see was possible, as we had time to drive. We have decided to skip the Badlands off Interstate 90 about 80 miles east of Rapid City. We expect to travel I-90 someday and will catch the Badlands and more as we later head west during a trip. For those looking to domicile (establish a legal address) in South Dakota; the popular Box Elder is located just east of Rapid City.
The Black Hills area of South Dakota is another one of those unique landscapes that we have not experienced in the past. Literally every turn in the road reveals an amazing view. I can see why people decide to live here! Everyone agreed, to include park management, September is the best month to be here. The temperatures have averaged 70’s in the day and 50’s at night. We did have six inches of snow on September 7th which was a record for this area. The snow was gone for the most part the next day. No big deal. We filled the fresh water tank the day before freezing temperatures, turned on the tank heaters and unhooked the water hose and filter, moving it to the basement so the hose would not freeze. Always make sure to remove those external filters at the hydrant as they crack when frozen.
Church Retreat and More
It will take two blog posts to describe our experiences here. There are several others in the park that have been here the entire season, a few are workcampers and even one is a school teacher who holds classes online for her students back home. We had met a couple at Fort Robinson in Nebraska who travel South Dakota as ministers. They provided a couple church names for us. Turned out the second day we were at this RV park we met the camp minister. They hold “cowboy churches” which are short half hour sermons followed by Christian fellowship. We attend bible study on Wednesdays and church on Sunday. I have to say this was the most beautiful church I have ever attended – outside in the middle of mother nature. Timing was perfect as we were invited to an annual church retreat located in a mountain valley. That was a special, healing, time. A large family from Montana held services one night and the property owner delivered the message on another night. I’d like to say it was luck to meet the Campground Minister but after much thought, I’d say the meeting was not luck at all. More about our church friends in a later post where I’ll also describe a hike to a lookout point. Staying long-term at a campsite increases the chances of meeting up with others who have been here longer and either tell you about or take you to area attraction. A benefit of being a fulltimer and not racing home to return to a house or job.
Custer State Park
Twenty dollars will get you a one week state park pass that’s good for everyone in the vehicle. Custer State Park is 71,000 acres (110 square miles) of glory. There are camping spots inside the park but we found none that we wanted to stay at compared to where we were. Neighbors have stayed inside the park in the past and commented that one of the differences is there were few long-term residents (more than a week) so you don’t get to know anyone. That stated, I could see Custer State Park being interesting enough to be the only place you would visit for shorter stays and therefore would be worth camping inside it. There are two special highways to drive inside the park, some with tunnels. There is a wildlife loop where it pays off to check with someone before you leave to see where the buffalo are hanging out. Our RV park is located four miles outside a main gate of Custer State Park so it was easy to jump in the truck and go for a drive into the fantastic views.
Click here for a short video of a buffalo road block.
Cute Puppy Pictures
A brief intermission away from our Black Hills story has to include cute puppy photos. Wyatt is four months old and a big part of our fulltime RV living. I’ll add many of the tourist locations are dog friendly which you will discover with just a little research. We can’t wait to show him off to his aunts (my sisters) once we return to Missouri the second week of October on our way to Texas by November 1st to vote.
Here is a funny series of three photos Karen took. As you may recall, I kept a part-time office job when we went on the road. Wyatt likes to help me work. Karen happened to be standing in the area with her phones camera at the right time.
Obviously, among major decisions to go fulltime in an RV is pets. As we stay at home more often during the pandemic, it was a great time to get a puppy. We feel the few travel restrictions, such as how long to leave him at home without us, is worth it. I read you can expect their ability to hold their bladder is fine for one hour per month of age. So he goes outside about every four to six hours for a pee break. He did well house breaking and now stands at the door when it’s time. We let him fall asleep on his own and then place him in his create. Yes, we still loose sleep having to get up in the middle of the night to take him out. As he gets older he will be an friendly hiking partner. His stuff does take up storage room but again it’s worth it. I’d however recommend at first to not travel with a dog if you don’t have one yet. Then decide later, especially if you have been on the road for a couple years on your own. He only knows this lifestyle. And because we are with him all the time, the camper does not smell like pet urine, nothing has been destroyed and he knows it’s not okay to bark at the many strangers unless acting as a guard dog. He loves to travel in the truck, often falling asleep for hours or just sits and looks out the windows. Raising a puppy in an RV is a blog post of its own.
Much To Report About On the Next Post
I’ll end this with a few more photos of the area. Next up will be more tourist things such as Hot Springs SD and the Mammoth site, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, The City of Custer and a hike to Beecher Rock in the National Forrest. And for sure, just simple thoughts about living in an RV.