Things to Do in South Dakota
South Dakota is full of natural beauty and potential adventure. From huge national parks to famous monuments to an endless amount of outdoor activities to partake in, visiting the state of South Dakota in your Bowlus is the only way to get the full experience.
Instead of lugging heavy camping gear around, traveling with the ultimate in both luxury and performance allows you the freedom and flexibility of creating exactly the trip you want. It’s hands down the best way to camp. Here are our favorite things to do when taking a trip to South Dakota.
When it comes to famous symbols of the United States, there aren’t many that are more recognizable than Mount Rushmore. Built in 1941, Mount Rushmore was carved directly into the granite of the Black Hills. The scale of this national monument is awe-inspiring and it’s one of those bucket list places to visit, not just in the state of South Dakota but in the entire United States.
If you want to learn more about Mount Rushmore when you visit, there are self-guided tour opportunities via handheld radio, which are available for a small rental fee. If you prefer to explore the grounds on your own, there is plenty of seating so that you can sit and take it all in.
There is a single gravel trail located near Mount Rushmore, the Blackberry Trail. It is rated “moderately strenuous” and is about a mile long. The trail connects with the nearby Centennial Trail, which is part of the Black Hills National Forest, so hikers can continue on to further hiking adventures if they’re interested.
Even though there is no camping available in the park, thanks to its proximity to the Black Hills National Forest, there are plenty of opportunities for overnight stays. The national park has 30 different campgrounds for overnight guests. While some of those sites have toilets, none of them have hookups of any kind.
The good news is, when you travel in your Bowlus, you won’t have to worry about that. Our luxury travel trailers were designed to work just as well off-grid as on-grid, so you won’t need to give up any of the comforts of home, no matter where you park for the night. Every night camping provides you with the same, comfortable experience, whether you have an electrical hookup or not.
Wind Cave National Park
Although not many people have heard of Wind Cave National Park, it is one of the oldest national parks in America.
The park is full of biodiversity and has herds of bison and elk roaming around. It is also covered in forested hillsides and rolling prairie grasslands. However, the real glory of Wind Cave National Park isn’t above ground; it’s below it. The Wind Cave, located beneath all the wildlife and greenery, is one of the most complex, longest caves in the entire world.
The cave was named because of the barometric winds at the entrance and is home to some of the most unique and rare cave formations anywhere, known as boxwork. Guided tours are available, and you can also explore the natural opening to the cave on your own if you’d rather.
Make sure to explore the rest of the park when visiting, too. There are more than 30 miles of hiking trails, from the short and easy (Prairie Vista) to the long and strenuous (Highland Creek). The park allows open hiking, so visitors can enjoy thousands of acres of off-trail hiking if that’s what they enjoy.
Elk Mountain Campground sits on the junction of a ponderosa forest and the open prairie, offering overnight campers the best of all of the park’s natural scenery. The sites at the campground are offered first-come, first-served, and tend to fill up quickly during the busier months of the year. It also has an amphitheater, where park rangers offer free programs on a nightly basis during the summer. 48 of the 62 campsites at the Elk Mountain Campground are RV-friendly and will allow you the space to enjoy your privacy while you visit the park.
The best way to spend the night at Wind Cave National Park is to do it in your Bowlus. You’ll be able to appreciate nature in a way many people can’t, all while knowing that you have a comfortable king-sized bed with luxury eco-linen sheets to come back to at the end of a long day of whatever outdoor adventuring that you’ve chosen to do.
Badlands National Park
There is no other place on Earth quite like the Badlands National Park. The park is called the “Land of Stone and Light,” and for good reason. Not only are the Badlands home to rich fossil beds, but the 244,000 acres that make up the park are also full of living wildlife like bighorn sheep, elk, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs.
There is plenty of hiking to be found in the park, for people of every age and skill level. Our favorite hiking trail is the Notch Trail, which is just over a mile out and back. There is also a waterfall to see, as well as plenty of nature to see and bird watching to do. Be aware that there’s a ladder to climb and plenty of views from up high, so people who have issues with height may not enjoy it. If you can make it, though, you’ll be rewarded with views of the White River Valley.
If you’re looking for a place to camp for a night or two (or longer), the Sage Creek Campground is our vote for first-come, first-served campsites. If you are planning your trip ahead, consider staying at the Cedar Pass Campground. Both make perfect places to set your Bowlus up for the night, even though they don’t have electrical hookups. When you camp in one of our luxury travel trailers, you won’t have to worry about surviving without them… you likely won’t even notice the difference.
Before you head to bed for the night, make sure you go outside and check out the sky. You can even join a park ranger for their night sky programs. The Badlands National Park is known for its ability to let visitors view the night sky as they’ve never seen it before, and some people have estimated it’s possible to see more than 7,500 stars by simply looking up! Because there is little to no light pollution in the park, the stars can be seen much more clearly. Our skylights are optimized for stargazing, so you don’t even have to leave your trailer, if you don’t want to.
National Music Museum
The National Music Museum, located in Vermillion, South Dakota, has been known as the “Musical Smithsonian.” It has perhaps the most comprehensive collection of musical instruments in the world, documenting how instruments turned out and the process they took to get there.
The earliest instance of the French grand piano is in the museum, as is the oldest harpsichord in the world. The full collection of the world’s rarest guitars is another must-see. If you’re a music enthusiast or are interested in seeing some of the more off the beaten path museums out there, the National Music Museum is a don’t miss.
Once you’re done checking out the collection, take a short drive to the nearby Clay County Park. Sitting on the beautiful Missouri River, the park features over 30 acres of land and 44 specified campsites. Each campsite is as private as possible, and some offer electricity if you need to charge up before leaving the area. Hike the three-mile nature trail, play some volleyball or horseshoes, or go boating before heading back to your travel trailer and making a delicious meal. You’ll love spending time in nature while sleeping on a comfortable, memory foam mattress in a temperature-controlled bedroom. It makes a huge difference when you wake up without a sore back limiting your activities.
South Dakota is the perfect state to explore in your Bowlus. You can hike around one of the most recognizable national monuments in the country, camp at a park known for rare cave formations, or enjoy any other type of outdoor activity you could possibly dream up.
When you travel in a luxury travel trailer, you open the world up in ways you likely haven’t even considered. Don’t make another trip without one, and make it your goal to check out every state in the beautiful country that we’re lucky enough to call home.