Date of Stay: 10/13/2020 Length of Stay: 1 night Type of Stay: SUV Camping Price: Free
My stay was right after camping became free, though I do not know if this was because of Covid, staffing, or the norm. The water was turned off, no trash service, vault toilet still had TP, but with a sign saying there would not be servicing. There were only 5 other campsites in use in the whole campground and only two others in my loop. I had almost the entire bottom half of my loop to myself. My campsite had all that I need, a fire ring, a level place to park, a picnic table, tall trees, and a perfect view.
This was an amazing campsite. I was doing travel through camping as a method of safe but necessary travel during quarantine, and this was my first ‘favorite’ camping spot. I got a beautiful spot in the lower loop that had it’s own trail to the lake. In the middle of the night a light storm rolled through, so I took down my window insulator and rolled down my window; as the lightning illuminated the lake and surrounding hills I found that beautiful feeling of being one with nature. The next morning as I left on those beautiful back roads I saw the evidence of one of the first snows at a higher elevation.
This is a first come first served campground with a small number of sites. When we got there at around 5 pm on a Saturday, there was only one site left. On Sunday, many people left and the the sites that were replaced with new people filled in in the mid afternoon timeframe. Some sites were left open. (This when there were zero reservable sites in the entirety of the Black Hills.) The campground host was very friendly and helpful.
We stayed in site 16. The ground wasn’t super level, but we made it work. It was right next to a vault toilet which was very clean and smelled great in the inside, but we did get whiffs of that gross vault toilet smell whenever the door opened and then when the wind picked up, more constantly.
Firewood is sold there, but if you come from the East there is a house before the turn in that sells firewood for super cheap (it was $3 per or 2 for $5 when we drove by). You can also forage firewood there. Dogs are $2 per dog per night.
The campground is remote, very quiet, and extremely beautiful. The sites are large and spread out. There are paths down to the lake where you can swim or stick your paddling boat in. It’s not a beach but it works well enough. You’ll want sandals or swim shoes to walk around in the water. Lots of rocks and also lots of crawfish which kept my boys endlessly entertained.
It’s less densely forested here. Still lots of trees but also tons of wildflowers, which were absolutely beautiful. We explored a small bit of trail 40L, which encircles the lake. In some spots it’s overgrown with cow parsnip and/or thistle, so you’ll want to wear pants if you don’t want to touch them.
This is my favorite campground I’ve stayed at so far, I think.