The Black Hills and some Country Charm...

{Date of visit: June 7-12, 2013}

South Dakota surprised us with it's diverse weather and ecosystems. The eastern part being humid and fairly flat with the banks of the Missouri River and mudflats making up most of the area (that's the part I don't really like). Head west and you hit grasslands so vast you wonder how on earth parts of the world are so over-populated while viewing the never-ending expanse of land as far as the eye can see. It seems alive...well, I guess it is since it's grass...but watching the wind make wavy ribbons with all of that grass is really something to behold. Then come the Badlands...a strange formation that was millions of years in the making.

The Badlands
And then there's the Black Hills. The air is drier here but that doesn't detract from the beauty of the hills. The Sioux Indians call the Black Hills sacred and I would have to agree. Once you step away from the tourism that make up the area you get a sense of what Shangri-la must be like. And we had that chance by picking the quirkiest campground to date...Country Charm owned by Lois and Owen Murphy.

Welcome to Country Charm!
Country Charm is located way out in the country (as it's name implies) near the town of Pringle (the town's city limits sign states it is the Elk Capital...we saw exactly ZERO). It really is situated on 40 acres of property which is surrounded by thousands of acres of National Forest (all public lands for those who like to ride horses). It is remote. I have to be honest and tell you that I was a bit terrified  nervous about the 'driveway' down to the RV sites. It was a steep dirt road with low hanging pine branches. I decided not to ride in, or even watch, the RV as Clark maneuvered it down the hill and into a 'spot' as I was sure it was going to end up on tipped over on it's side.

While Country Charm offers electricity, the posts are situated in a little valley which doesn't exactly have defined parking spots. It takes some creativity to get level AND be able to reach the electrical post. You need to get water in your holding tank prior to coming down the hill...we didn't...but Owen was extremely nice and strung together about 200 feet of hose so we could fill up once we parked.

Chuck and the Mutiny all settled in.
We had the whole place to ourselves and enjoyed some seriously dark nights with millions of stars and the wind whispering through the pine boughs.
Once we were settle we were able to take in our views.

Avi was thrilled to be able to roll in the grass and flowers.

Our view most mornings.
View from my yoga mat.

 For all of it's "rustic-ness" Country Charm did offer very nice bathrooms and showers as well as a clubhouse with full kitchen and washer and dryer. Laundry was offered on a honor system and laundry detergent and dryer sheets were provided. Practically anything you might imagine needing was available in the clubhouse as a matter of fact (they also offer a few cabins for overnight guests as well as tent camping).

One of the cool things to see in the area (Hot Springs) is The Mammoth Site, the world's largest Colombian Mammoth exhibit.

An active dig get fairly close and the tour is very informative.

A place not to be missed is Wind Cave National Park...even if all you have time to do is drive through.
We were here in the middle of June 2013...and the timing was perfect.

Everyone's shedding their winter coats.

From Country Charm we also visited Mount Rushmore:
Iron Mountain Road (aka Highway 16A) is a fun way to get to Mt. Rushmore. It's a series 4 tunnels which frame Mt. Rushmore. It also has a couple of Pig-tail turns which are hairpin turns with steep gains (or losses) in elevation.
NOT RV friendly...

A profile view of Washington from a side road.
It was quite surprising that Rushmore isn't quite as big as we had imagined and it kind of blends in a bit with the surrounding mountains.
We also checked out the Crazy Horse Memorial (which is totally fascinating):

The model (foreground) and the real deal (background).

There really is so much to do and see in the area and with everything spread out over miles and miles it was really hard to "see it all". Plus, as much as we loved our little campground, it did add about 14 miles (round trip) to any outing we went on. When you have an old dog waiting patiently in the RV for you to come home to let her go potty it puts a little cramp in the schedule.

Cleo has no interest in accompanying us on our side trips in the Jeep (Chuck). She wants to be home in the Mutiny. For this reason, most of our excursions tend to be under 6 hours. 
And for some down time...if sitting in the woods looking up at the beautiful sky doesn't do it for can head over to Custer State Park for a little fishing (or hiking or biking). Custer offers RV camping with electrical hook ups and might be an ideal solution for a more central base camp for your Black Hills adventures.

Now this is relaxing!

One of the fishing docks at Custer State Park.
South Dakota fish love Clark!

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