We stayed at the campgrounds for two nights while visiting the Black Hills in early August. We stayed for a Friday and Saturday night. The campgrounds are tucked back in the woods which makes for a beautiful morning, though because it's located off a pretty busy road it's probable that it may not be as quiet during more busy seasons of the year. The camp hosts are very kind and helpful and can gladly recommend local sites depending on the visitors interests.
The campgrounds is located about 5 minutes from Mount Rushmore and is a great central point for other popular sites, such as the Black Elk Wilderness, Custer Park or either Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument.
Despite being out in the woods, the campsites are located very close to each other meaning that if you're stuck next to three noisy men, as we were, you're going to hear their entire conversation about car engines and their friend Mike's relationship with his wife.
This place was so serene. So many beautiful trees. Just a few miles from Mount Rushmore. A nice little stream runs along one side. The road to get there is narrow and winding, but wasn’t too long. No showers, but the vault toilets were clean. It does say primitive. I felt so at peace camping here. Large spaces.
The campground boasts 20 sites but a 1/3rd of them are Day use only. Half are by reservation and only 3 are first come, first served. It was a lovely spot, easy to access and the camp hosts were very nice. A creek runs by the campground and there are several trails for hiking, including one across the main road that goes pretty much straight up a hill but offers an incredible view of Mt Rushmore.
No Rvs are allowed but if you are camping in a van (or Jeep in my case) you fit in just fine. There are lots of trees appropriately distanced for hammocking.
There are no showers at the campground but you can head into Keystone (7 min drive) and there are showers in town.
overall it was a very nice campground. right off iron Mountain road, which is cool but can be noisy with motorcycle traffic. there was also helicopter noise every single day starting at 9 and a new one would come through about every 15-20 minutes. however, both helicopter and motorcycle traffic stopped come night fall. the vault toilet stunk pretty bad, but we camped right next to one and didn’t have any foul wind come our way, it’s just going into them to use when you’ll have problems. very nice and shady campground. don’t let smell and noise steer you away. it’s absolutely beautiful and the hosts are nice too!
Let me start by saying the campground itself is beautiful! There was plenty of shade and the creek provided nice ambiance. However, don't camp here if you want some peace and quiet! Iron Mountain Road runs right by and it a popular with motorists and motorcyclists. Also, starting a 9am until probably 6pm there are helicopter tours for Mount Rushmore and it flies right over the campground. We used this spot as a jump off point for all our adventures so we weren't bothered too much by the noise as we were gone for much of the day.
Our only other complaint is that the vault toilets smelled terrible. I know they're not supposed to smell like roses, but we've experienced many other vault toilets that we "pleasant" and we rarely saw a fly. These would have flies swarming as you used the facilities and we could often smell the toilets from our site. I'm not sure if the treatment is different in SD, as we're from CO, but this was out biggest complaint.
High point is that you're only 5 to 10 minutes from Rushmore and close to Custer State Park and it was an easy jumping point for many other destinations.
One more note…more of a soapbox speech…the Vermont people next to us were terrible campers and broke all the basic etiquette camping rules. They washed dished in the creek, they bathed at the water pumps and left trash and food all over their site and in the fire pit when they left. This is NOT ok. Camping involves a very high level of respect for nature and if you can't follow leave no trace rules, you shouldn't be out there!