Campground Review: This location is great if you are looking to be close to Hot Springs, Wind Cave, and Custer State park. It is located just north of town and just South of Wind Cave’s entrance. The campground itself is very exposed and the spots are lacking of shade. You are in a canyon like area so if you get one of the side spots, you will have shade starting in the early afternoon.
The sites are spaced far enough apart where you feel a tiny bit of seclusion and there is plenty of space to put multiple tents on flat ground. It is in a red wall canyon so be careful of being too loud because sound travels. The lake has a large and beautiful swim beach and is perfect for a day on the water.
There are bathrooms down by the swim beach, a boat launch, and picnic tables. It is a great lake for fishing. We were snagging them left and right. And contrary to the name, it was perfect temps to take a dip in. There are two campsites right on the lake but you need to snag them in advance. They apparently book up fast.
The sites are only $10 a night and there is no camp host. However, the bathrooms do get regularly cleaned and the sites are well maintained. The campground is in really good shape. Nice grass and clean fire rings and picnic tables. There is also a large shaded picnic table area where you can have gatherings.
As a Dyrt Ranger, sometimes we get the honor of being able to review gear! This campground I decided to break out my Eclipse Solstice Sun protection shirt.
It helped me feel protected by the sun but yet, was a light enough material to be able to move freely while paddleboarding. I like the finger design to cover the back of your hand too. Most shirts only have the thumb hole but this one has elastic around the middle of the hand to put around the middle finger to keep the back of your hands protected too. The downside to this design is the outline. It kind of just drapes over you like a poncho, so there is no real fashion design around it. The pinched sides let air flow in and out easily but also make it a bit complicated to get into. I got caught a lot in the middle gap while just trying to throw it on.
We enjoyed a quiet, albeit buggy visit. The Fort is fun to see and read about the place it holds in Western History.
There is plenty to do and even great hiking right within the state park (the buttes).
The showers are inexpensive and clean. Food was $$$.
Small campground nestled in a little canyon of sorts with red rock walls on one side and green hill on other. It echos if you yell. The reservoir is a short walk up the road with a nice sandy beach and good fishing (so I hear). Good family spot. We had fun playing horseshoes in the provided pits, but you need to bring your own shoes. The biting flies were not in short supply, so bring bug spray. There was no campground host, and the vault toilets were not very clean as a result. But we still had a very pleasant experience. We would camp there again.
Located in the Northwest corner of the Nebraska panhandle this 98 year old state park has it all for a great family get-away of road tripping stop. Chadron State park offers 70 electric and 18 primitive camping sites. The bulk of the primitive sites are walk up so be sure to get there early for the sites that have the best shade trees. There are a few non-reservable electric sites but to be safe I’d book online well in advance or call ahead. You can also book cabins at this park and during my stay the cabins looked to be entirely in use. Enjoy miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that range from level to steep inclines through rouged terrain. Activities such as swimming in the well maintained pool, horse back riding have extra fees which are reasonable. There is a great fishing pond and several playgrounds scattered throughout the park. If you plan on horseback riding, and you should it was the highlight of our trip, tours begin at 9am and leave every hour except noon until 3pm. I recommend the 9am or 10am ride to avoid the heat. You register at the visitor center located at the front of the park for this 45 min guided ride. Other features of this park include an archery range, paddle boats, tennis, horseshoe pits, sand volleyballs and outdoor events (check the Nebraska state parks calendar).
On this multi family campout we had 8 kids with us and 6 adults. We camped in sites 16 and 14 which are electric sites. We chose these sites for the plentiful shade trees and proximity to the water pump and the shower building. The sites are deep and mostly flat. We had a little tent city going with large tents and we all found level, shaded ground.
Observations: the grounds are well kept with regular rounds from camp hosts and park staff to check trash and make sure the guests are happy. If you are hoping for some downed wood for fire you’ll be out of luck at this park. You can bring in local wood and find wood for purchase on site and in nearby Chadron just a 12 minute drive North of the park. You may want to bring your bike to the park. Most of the attractions are a quick although hilly ride from the campsite. I would like to see walking and riding paths separate from the roads at this park. When driving be on the look out for pedestrians and bike riders on the road. This was a quite campground with many short stay visitors during our stay. Quite hours start at 10pm and end at 8am. I have to say were were easily the loudest group a bit in violation of the 10pm quite time as we played games around the campfire but we were not visited by any neighbors or the camp host. If you are a fan of view spectacular night skies this a a great park. You can see brilliant stars, planets and the Milky Way. On hikes you’ll see sandstone buttes and valleys. We also saw many bird species and more woodpeckers than I’ve seen in any other location. You’ll also see white tail and mule deer around the park. The camp host told us that in the fall you can observe big horn sheep in the area. On your hike bring binoculars and enjoy a peak at the black hills of South Dakota.
The visitor center offers camping essentials you may have lost of forgotten, souvenirs, ice, wood and a vending machine. You can also visit the trading post on site and order from a small menu of breakfast and lunch/dinner items.
Nearby Chadron State park you can visit the Nebraska state forest and grasslands, Agate fossil beds, fur trading museum, Box Butte state recreation area/lake, Black Hills of South Dakota, and Fort Robinson state park. All in all this is a must see state park for a short or long stay with family, friends, or a solo trip. 5 stars in my book.
Ranger Review, Wenzel Portico 6 tent:
As a ranger for The Dyrt I have the opportunity from time to time to review camping products. I was fortunate to be able to review the Wenzel Portico 6 tent on this multifamily 3 night, 2 day campout.
The Portico 6 is a 74” heigh dome style tent using 3 lightweight shock corded poles. The footprint is 10’x9’ and advertised as a 6 person tent. I’d cut that in half for occupancy in reality. I’m 6’2” and my sons are 6’ and 5’6”. I’d say with sleeping bags and a couple of back packs we would consume the entire floor space. We tested this tent with 2 cots and two 12 year old boys for 3 nights. The tent was intuitive and easy to set up from the box without looking at directions. Total set up time was roughly 17 minutes from initial unboxing to completion. This is definitely a two person job in order to get the poles upright but not difficult. The Portico has some great highlights including a dry entry awning although a bit short, plastic pole holders at the corners, and a large D shape entry. The door zipper worked very well with no snagging which was a very pleasant thing as tents go. The Portico also has 3 very useful storage pockets on the outside of the tent. The boys used the pockets to hang their wet swim trunks. I can see these pockets being useful for storage of bug spray, sun screen and other like items. It is curious why the storage pockets aren’t located on the inside of the ten however where I can see them being more useful. There is ample head room in the tent and with the rain fly off the tent if very breathable while offering a view of the sky. There is good privacy with the mesh starting a bit higher on the tent which I think is a great feature. You’ll also enjoy the pre-attached guy lines on the rainfly. Speaking of the rainfly, this may be the tent’s best feature. We did see a good amount of rain during this campout with a long lasting low wind thunderstorm. The rainfly held up great and keep the boys dry the hole time.
Before I go in to the concerns it should be noted that this is not a tent designed for outback and rouged camping. This is a tent for the back yard or well established camp sites. If that is where you keep this tent then I think you’ll really enjoy the tent for a long time. Potential concerns come from the light weight fiberglass poles, thin floor, plastic pole holder corners and plastic tent stakes. We layed down a second tarp in the tent and used cot foot prints to help protect the floor. I’d defiantly never use this tent without a good think tarp under the tent to protect from puncture. I’d upgrade the tent stakes if you plan on camping on hard ground or ground with any rocks. These yellow low end stakes will not last long. Much care is also needed when pounding in the stakes to the plastic tent pole holders. One missed swing could potentially break the corners or the stake. The awning did do it’s job keeping some small camp chairs dry but I’d like to see a bit deeper awning. The only complaint the boys had about the tent was that it didn’t move air very well with the rainfly on. The tent didn’t have any condensation in it however. All in all this is a nice backyard camping tent for a maximum of 2 people with cots or 3 people in sleeping backs with a couple of packs. It is light weight and easy to store. Set up with two people and tear down with one will take around 15 minutes both ways. Check out more here: https://wenzelco.com/portico-6/
This was our first time here and we are already planning our next trip. The park is nestled inside the Nebraska National Forest and provides breathtaking views all around. We stayed in a small cabin for this trip, but next trip will be bringing our camper. There are so many activities here including archery, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing just to name a few. The scenic drive or hike to see the large buttes is really something. I highly recommend this state park for anyone!
This private campground directly overlooks Carhenge and is not too far from (small) downtown Alliance. Although tent prices were listed, I’m not sure it would appeal to tenters. Prices range from $17 for tents to $27 for water to $35 for full hookups. 50% off after the third day. Weekly and monthly rates listed and it appears that credit cards are accepted. I believe there were four full hookup sites. The day we were there, there were only two RVs there and I didn’t see anyone to talk to. (There was a phone number prominently displayed to call but I did not). Pit toilet. No shade at all. If you are passing through, it might be good for an overnight stay but other than Carhenge, not much to do in this area. Was suggested that it might be a good stop on the way to Sturgis (tent camping?)
You must really want to go here as the access is via 12-13 miles of dirt road from either the north or the south. Our low-clearance van had no problem so unless it is muddy from the rain, I would think any car could handle the roads. There are six sites spaced a good distance apart; each has a covered picnic table (essential in the summer sun), bbq grate, fire pit, and garbage AND recycling bins. The only relief from the harsh sun (aside from the covered picnic tables) was a strong breeze. Summer is likely not the best time to camp here! There is no water available and the pit toilets were reasonably clean (but no hand sanitizer). There is a one-mile self-guided interpretive trail, which was very interesting and there are a couple of other hiking trails, which we did not explore. We met a couple who had honeymooned here 42 years ago! The only annoyance was the biting flies! You can't beat the price - $5 ($2.50 with senior pass) but it was posted that there is a proposed price increase to $15.
Allen Ranch offers RV, Tipi, Canvas, and basic tent sites located under shade along the river. Pull-thru sites are also available. All RV sites have water and electricity, with a dump station available on site. I only took a star away because of the loud road next to it. I didn't mind but some of my family mentioned it once or twice so I thought it needed to be scored.
Allen himself stopped by on our first day to say hi. And he is a really nice guy! He is a former Park Service Law Enforcement Officer and Fire Ranger. He bought this land a long time ago and didn't want to leave it to work at other parks. He knows everyone in town and can recommend some great spots to visit. He started this campground and has been maintaining it with his family for a long time. It's on a beautiful strip of land right on the Fall River. The Fall River is fed by hot springs so the water stays nice and just slightly chilled. Almost feels like getting into a heated pool, like where you step in say "ahh that's nice" instead of cringe with chills. Since we were the only tent campers there we offered to mow the grass or help set up the tipis but Allen wanted us to just relax since he had his family helping him. So that is what we did. I did offer him a nice cold beer out of my Icemule cooler though. He was shocked to see "such a neat contraption!"
There are 12 RV sites, 6 tent sites, 1 group site, and 3 tipis. I saw one canvas tent that was set up. You can call ahead and reserve sites but we found that we could just drive up and put our names on a site as put the money in an envelope at the shower house. On a busy weekend I would call ahead.
Tent sites: $25 to book and $5 for each additional person.
RV site: $40 for 2 people and $5 for each additional person.
Group site: $8 per person for groups 10+
Tipi: $70 (plus $5 per additional person) for basic (you furnish), $130 per couple for everything included (including breakfast)
Glamping tent: $130 per couple (min 2) and $25 for each add person for everything included (including breakfast)
RV sites: Sites are within walking distance to the shower building with hot water and restrooms. They are right when you pull into the campground so you don't get the generators bugging you at night. They are far enough away from the tent sites to create good space.
Tent sites: There is a large group site across from the shower house. There isn't much shade for the group site but it is large enough for a good sized group.
The other tent sites are right next to each other so when it is busy, it would be packed. We got lucky and we were the only ones there so we got our pick of the sites. We chose sites 2 and 3 since they were perfect for our sized group and had the best flow section of the river right at the site. We were able to walk right into the water and hang out on tubes without feeling like we were sucked into cattails or "rapids".
The sites hadn't been mowed, so the grass was a little tall, but we came at the end of a very rainy and snowy week and Allen hadn't had a chance to mow since were there the first day it stopped snowing/raining.
Other than being right next to the main road, the sound of the creek and the cottonwood trees blowing in the wind was lovely. The road wasn't too noisy and the sound went way down at night.
There are tables at each site with 3-4 wooden round seats. The seats weren't super sturdy but the tables were great for keeping our food off the ground and away from our dogs.
The tent sites are pretty far away from the bathroom and there isn't a place to properly go to the bathroom near the site without being seen from the main road. So that is the only big downfall.
There is a port-o-potty up by the tipis and the canvas tent.
The showers are free and hot. They aren't the most up to date facilities but they are functional and easy to use.
There is a grill on site but it wasn't open when we were there, I think it is mostly open for Summer. They also offer catering for large groups, reunions, weddings and celebrations of any kind. As Allen says: "Come join us for a fun filled , relaxing camping experience near Hot Springs located in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota Mountain hiking, Interpretive talks and warm water river tubing down gentle Fall River, which runs through the entire campground."
Inner tubes are provided FREE for the guests too. They are located right next to the playground.
There is also a big stage on site where i'm guessing bands or events can play or take place.
As a ranger we sometimes get the opportunity to review products that would benefit the camping experience. On this trip, I decided that floating down a river with family was the perfect time to review the IceMule Jaunt Cooler from https://icemulecoolers.com/.
I chose the Jaunt because I wanted something that was easy to carry just a few beers instead of my whole fridge in a bag. Icemule does a great job of creating lots of options for cooler sizes and the Jaunt seemed to be the perfect fit for my lifestyle. Plus, I LOVED the colors!
It says that it can hold a six pack or 3 bottles of wine. At first It seems like it can hold a lot more than that based on it's height, but I quickly learned that it won't properly keep chilled or stay leakproof if it is filled too much. OOPS! Once I learned to fill it properly, it worked like a charm. Even floats when you need to pass it between people on the water.
There is a front pocket on the bag that is supposed to be waterproof but the zipper is lined along the outside with no real way to close it fully so I wouldn't trust it to keep things inside perfectly dry. It is also hard to zip with one hand (see video) which is something that would make it easier to use.
Other than that, it was a great addition to our basecamping and day trip gear. It sites comfortably on my back and isn't too heavy being filled with liquid. It is WAY easier to carry than a cooler and way more more enticing to drink cold beer that wasn't just shook up in a warm backpack while out snowshoeing.
KOAs are not my norm when it comes to camping, but when on a long road trip you often have to find camping based on your location. We gave this campground a shot, and it reaffirmed why I don’t do KOA style camping. There is nothing really wrong with the park, but it did not suit us. Our campsite was a very un-level gravel pad that was within a few feet of the back of cabins. There was little in terms of privacy. The bathrooms were clean and semi conveniently located. I thought the pool would be a treat for my son after spending a couple long hot days of traveling, but it was so cold we couldn’t enjoy the water. The WiFi (another treat for my son) was weak and unusable from our site. The only pro for us was its close proximity to Mt Rushmore, Wind in the Caves, and The surrounding Black Hills sights.
Clean, quiet campground tucked away in the beautiful Black Hills
Toadstool park has a small number of nonreservable camping spots that are nicely spaced, with honor system payment on site. Toilets are available but no running water or power. Access to the park is via dirt roads that can be difficult after heavy rain. Beautiful place to explore, where we found very friendly other campers.
Chadron State Park is such a beautiful area. The scenic drives are amazing. The campground is a nice campground. The sites are a little close together and it was challenging to back our 38' camper into our site, but once we were in we had a great time. Everyone was friendly and campground and restrooms and showers were clean. The sites were Electric only. Each site had a fire ring and picnic table. We were able to get cell service most of the time.
The park had tennis courts, a pond for fishing and paddle boats, a swimming pool, horse riding, and hiking trails. We stayed here a night than moved on to Fort Robinson and will definitely come again.
Wonderful campsite! I camped solo here a couple of weeks ago and there was plenty of space with trees, a fire pit, and picnic table. I had neighbors but there was plenty of space that I didn’t feel like they were encroaching on my site. The trees were perfect for hammocking and there was a little creek right next to it. The grass was well trimmed and the campsite was very clean. Bathrooms were a short walk away and a shower house was a within a 5 min walk. Highly recommend.
This campground is a great place to come to enjoy a family get away! There are loads of activities close by to do and see including historic sites, museum, swimming pool, fishing, Jeep rides, it’s seriously endless! There is a restaurant at the state park as well so cooking is optional😉
What did I love about this KOA? It was quiet. I read and roamed around watching birds and picking up rocks while the kids were occupied with the pool and playing free putt-putt. The owners were very nice and helpful. The cabin was clean and neat with no spiders. The showers and bathroom were neat and clean. Add to that being not-too-far from one of my favorite corners of the planet with so much to offer, a cute little town, the birthplace of the People, and the origin of the Buffalo and you have a great spot.