A creek side ATV haven

Camp creek side at this small campground. Watch out for the ATVs as there are many trails for them here. One starts just across the road where there is a parking area for day use. 

Some sites are by the creek and others were in the sun. Water is available and camp is well kept. 5 miles down the gravel road is Deerfield Lake where you can find hiking and fishing. 

This is a nice spot amidst some beautiful scenery.

Stunning remoteness in the Black Hills

Nobody else was here- perhaps due to the long forest road drive. This campground is an hour or so out of town and most of your time will be on gravel and dirt. The drive is so enjoyable that you won’t mind at all. There are only 4 sites but they have plenty of space. A couple vault toilets finish up the camp. There is no water source so bring your own. Besides finding a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy wilderness, ATVs have there place here. Many forest roads are not available to highway legal vehicles. 

Do yourself a favor and enjoy this place.

First to Review
Remote lake with hiking and fishing

This oasis is found not too far outside of Hill City. There are 2 loops of campsites. The lower one is closer to the lake. The upper loop has forest views. Site 8 was spacious and had some distance from our neighbor. The vegetation is tall trees which means you can still see other campers. Water, vault toilets and garbage cans are standard. The friendly host pointed out good sites from the ones remaining. We camped in the upper loop with the host and one other family. The lower was filled. 

Deerfield Lake is large and beautiful. There is a hiking trail that goes around it- 11 mile circuit. A much longer trail winds it’s way down to a town. You can go over 100 miles on it. The host gave us a map that pointed out different trailheads. We loved hiking around the lake- whether it was a few miles one way or the other or even driving to a different trailhead. 

This is certainly a place to remember.

Simple campground near amazing places

Comanche Park is just outside Custer, South Dakota. It’s open seasonally but it looks like a few spots are before the gate. The campground was pretty empty during the week but the host said it was full on the weekend- consider making a reservation. The sites are large without much vegetation between them. We were far enough apart that it still felt private. A picnic table and fire pit are standard. Vault toilets are spread throughout. There is water available but I would consider your options. The host said they get bottled water when I asked about the quality. 

The draw to this campground is that it’s close to Custer State Park. We arrived midday, set up and still had time to drive the wildlife scenic highway and the scenic drive out of Custer towards Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. We were feet from a bison herd and arms length away from donkeys. Returning in time to make dinner was great. Tomorrow we’ll leave early and do another drive and hike in Custer State Park. 

Comanche Park is a good campground to use as a base when you explore the area.

Ranger review of Dalton Lake Campground with Stream2Sea sunscreen

Campground Review: Dalton Lake is a primitive camp in the Black Hills. It’s an hour to either Sturgis or Rapid City with a few small towns in between. The campground is lakeside with a day use area as well. 11 sites means that it fills up quickly. We arrived around 1 on Thursday and got one of the last sites. Things empty out on Sunday so plan accordingly. 

We stayed a few days and enjoyed our time. A family filled up a number of sites and nearly everyone has an ATV. Off road trails lead right out of camp. There’s a vault toilet in camp and another by the day use area. Walk down the grass to fish in Dalton lake. A few piers and a bridge give fishing choices. 

We are hikers so the draw for us was being right on the long Centennial Trail. It’s also the trail head for the Little Elk Canyon Trail. We loved hiking the Little Elk as it follows along a small river. 

Note: There is a warning on the water hand-pump that says it has some impurities that may make it unsafe to drink. We stuck with the water we brought(the host doesn’t drink the water either). 

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I sometimes get products to review. This trip I tried out the Stream2Sea sunscreen. We carried a 3 oz bottle and certainly found that a little goes a long way. It’s a mineral sunscreen so you just use a dab and rub it in. The videos on their website clearly show how to apply it. 

Hiking the Little Elk trail on a sunny day was beautiful. As someone who grew too tall for their hair, I am always concerned about the bald head getting too much sun. I used the white sunscreen(not the tinted) and it went on with just a bit of white sheen. It does absorb in with more rubbing and became less noticeable. Using just enough was key. I liked that it didn’t run down into my eyes as I hiked the almost 10 miles. The sun was hot but I didn’t get burnt. I did use my hat for part of the way for a bit of shade but mostly my head was in the sun. 

I did have trouble cleaning off the sunscreen. Since water is a bit unsafe at camp now, I tried to conserve by using a wet wipe. My skin was left with a sheen of sunscreen that lasted for a little while. This shouldn’t be an issue when enough water is available to clean up. 

The Stream2Sea products don’t harm the environment which is a big plus. I receive emails from the company that consistently talk about their commitment to not harming the planet. This adds to the positive feeling I get using their products. Thanks, Stream2Sea, for protecting my skin as much as the environment.

Relaxing farm stay

 Driving down muddy, rural roads brought up thoughts of this year’s extra snow and rain totals. It’s nice to immerse yourself in the results to open viewpoints. 

Michael met me and walked me over to the camp area- after letting his 3 dogs greet me. He has a large gravel lot with an electric hookup. He spent time leveling it off so set up was a breeze. Nobody was staying in the guest house so we were able to use a bathroom that reminds me of a fancy hotel. 

Looking around you find yourself surrounded by farm life. An old barn houses a group of cats. Hay is in this one for their horses to add to their diet. The land goes forever and life slows down. 

Michael walked over with his dogs and invited me to walk the property line. This ended up being a couple hours of education and conversation. Michael has worked with government programs to make portions of this retired farm natural grasslands. He planted rows of cedars, plums, chokecherry and pear to attract pheasants- deer appreciate it too. He showed me his endless battle with wormwood crowding out the native species. Water formed a lake where there never is one and almost flooded out their neighbor. Lazy Sy is elevated but they are still fighting the water off this year. My dog found companionship with the farm dogs and we felt welcome and right at home. 

Besides walking around the farm, we stopped in town right on the Missouri River. There are a number of restaurants and stores as well as a few State Recreation Areas to explore. 

Our stay was very comfortable and easy. Welcomed into another lifestyle, conversation bridged the gap quickly. You will love this simple slowdown of life.

Riverside camping near town

At the meeting of the Missouri River and the Bad River a small campground is found. Sites are close together and in the sun but there are full hookups. A spacious park is next door. The bike path leads into historic Fort Pierre and beyond. Museums await you as you explore Lewis and Clark’s stopover. This is an ok place to camp but being near town and the beautiful river and bike path make this a nice possibility.

Thought provoking conversation while camping with goats, chickens and dogs

The towns get smaller as I approach this farmhouse camping experience. The Compound is almost the last house in a town that might be the smallest I’ve stayed in. Rural life announces itself and life slows down. 

The tower is the identifier. Homemade and designed, it stands above as a landmark. It also provides a roost for the solar panels and allows them to have water pressurized for off grid living. Vegetable and herb gardens are on one side. A creek gurgles by on the other. You are free to find a spot anywhere to set up. We choose the front corner and tucked ourselves in between a couple trees. 

Baboo, their Great Pyrenees dog, is a loud but playful greeter. Goats wander throughout- natural lawn mowers. I was lucky enough to hold three day old babies- so precious! Another is giving birth at any moment. 

The hosts are super interesting and we found conversation easy. You have to ask about their time with Work Away in Costa Rica. Their motorcycle adventure led to a year of labor and learning. Larissa excitedly talked about her entry into teaching life where we found common ground right away. She brought me to a fresh, wild asparagus plant and broke off a fresh shoot for me. She pointed down the road and said to help myself as we walked by. It’s in season and plentiful. 

We were given plenty of space to do our own thing but eventually Landon invited me back to talk while he worked on the outhouse. Saying yes to this opportunity was a good decision. Our first stop was touring his self built tower and we lost ourselves in the engineering of its design. He has 30 psi of water pressure that uses only the sun to energize it. A geothermal system is also in the works. The roosters fought over hens and goats buzzed around the babies and we continued talking. I think we did more pondering and talking than actual woodwork but it was getting dark before we wrapped up. Definitely a highlight our our stay and probably our trip. 

Camping is simple here. Their house is available to use as a restroom while they finish the outhouse. Water is in the hose. Everything is about conservation here so participation is requested. With no picnic table by where we set up, they have a fire pit and chairs by the creek and offered to light a fire for us. We chose conversation instead and it worked well. We had time to walk through farmland along a lazy road out of town. Picturesque South Dakota landscape greeted us. 

This is definitely a place to stop at! You will enjoy a simple setup that is constantly improving with tremendous hosts who invite you into their lives for your stay.

Camp in a quaint small town

We decided not to stay here because it’s right in town and very visible. There are a few RV spots and room for tents. They have a great playground. If you’re timing is right you can catch a ballgame without leaving you campsite. 

Town is a block away. It’s a beautiful small town. They had a burger deal that drew a crowd. Certainly worth some time walking around.

Spacious grassy campground that is lakeside

I spoke with a man who remembered when he used to come here to fish with his Dad. That was enough to encourage a stop here. We followed the signs and ended up at the west campground. There is another one on the eastern shore. It seemed like there are only a few campers here but a group of kids and their chaperones showed up later at night. They were loud enough to be heard but kept together politely- good to see programs bringing people out into nature. It also looks like they had a full weekend due to the reservation slips still on the posts. Well tended grass abounds and the openness leaves room for the breeze. It might be different in a heat wave but the sun and breeze combo is quite relaxing and is keeping the bugs away. 

We walked around camp and found cabins sprinkled throughout. A vault toilet is right next to the shower house leaving me wondering why they’re so close. A book exchange, playground, volleyball and horseshoe pit give entertainment options. A groomed trail leads right out of camp- bug spray needed for the trail. A boat launch and day use area is around the bend. This State Recreation Area has plenty to do and is beautifully maintained. 

This is a great option for tonight!

Ranger Review of the Yurt at Stone Creek Farm and AfterShokz Trekz Air Head

Campground Review: Nestle yourself in a copse of trees with a yurt as you enjoy this camping opportunity. 

Danielle and Dan, the hosts, greeted me right away spending time to talk and walk us around their place. A farm with many elements awaits. A well-tended garden and large yard lead to a mowed walkway. The first turn-off is to their bubble camp. You can stay in a clear bubble and watch all the stars- no dogs allowed in this one. Someone was even using it this weekend. Our yurt was further down. Slip through the opening in the trees and you find a hidden oasis. Wooden chairs, a lounger and picnic table surround the fire pit. A barbecue grill was off to the side. On a large wooden platform sits the tent style yurt. A composting toilet is around the corner. Water is available via their hose that is closer to where you park. There is a bit of a walk (it’s 1/4 mile) to the copse but once you witness the beauty you quickly forget the distance. They provide a cart for you to carry your gear. Note: the open cart could be an issue in rainy weather. The yurt floor is just a tent material on the wooden platform so don’t forget your sleeping pad. Inside there is plenty of room for you and your gear. Once we settled in, my dog hopped up on the lounger with me as we ate dinner to the sounds of the birds. Bug spray kept most of the mosquitoes from eating us for dinner but they certainly tried. Waking up was also a treat. A wolf was howling and a few different coyote packs yipped back and forth. Once they settled down the roosters sounded their call. 

Talking with Dan and Danielle is certainly a highlight. Their warm friendly demeanor make you comfortable right away. They gave us a welcome bag- s’more fixings! We were pointed to the Interstate State Park and told the Wisconsin Side was nicer. We hiked the pothole trail which lead to echo canyon and then around a lake to a beach before ending back at our car. We had fun climbing on rock formations and viewing the river. Driving through St. Croix we found a laundromat to wash our clothes. Just down the street was a park along the river- perfect to lunch at or maybe stop over at the vegan restaurant in town. The small towns on each side of the river have their charm and are worth checking out. 

The one drawback we found was that this is on a farm and work was being done. The tractor and mower were driving around until 10 pm. Once it stopped, quiet sounds of nature arise but the noise kept us distracted and prevented an early bedtime. 

Overall we had a wonderful stay. You should really consider checking out this spectacular location. 

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I sometimes get some cool products to review. This trip I am so happy to be trying out AfterShokz Trekz Air Headphones. This is interesting technology. These Bluetooth headphones go around your ear and transmit the sound through your bones. 

I’ve been looking for a solution to listening to music/podcasts while still being aware of the surroundings as I walk my dog. Dakota and I hike all over and I need to be aware on trails. She is a reactive dog so I need to see distractions an soon as I can to pull her in. With these headphones I am able to keep myself occupied while still hear what’s happening around us. Dakota gets longer walks and I stay connected to the world. 

The fit is good and the headphones did not fall off. I found them bumping into my hat(the connecting piece goes behind your head instead of over it) but I eventually found a sweet spot for them to sit. Sound is great too. Podcasts come through clear and music is crisp. 

I highly recommend the AfterShokz Trekz Air Headphones

First to Review
Great national forest campground

We arrived on a Saturday but still found empty sites. There are multiple loops so you have choices. The are vault toilets in the center of the loop and trails lead to them from different points around the loop. A trail leads to a group playground.

The big draw here is fishing on the lake as well as the ATV and motorcycle trails. There is an interpretive trail around Day Lake to enjoy.

This is elk territory so keep your eyes open. We saw one crossing a stream.

Family setting with an assortment of activities

Let’s be honest, it’s been awhile since we found a shower and this place has one. It is also in a forested area so we dropped on by. The campground filled up on Thursday for the weekend - but it is Father’s Day so that might make a difference. Campsites are large and there’s plenty of separation. We had a picnic table and another taller table (I’m guessing it’s to clean your fishing catch?). All sites have electric but the fee is reasonable. The shower costs $.25 per 2 minutes. Garbage and even a RV dump station are available.

There is plenty of firewood but you need to cut it to size. They are 6 feet long pine logs.

There is a boat launch right next to camp. A sandy beach is next to a large pavilion and playground. We hiked along a multi-use trail that goes between towns. Lots of ATV trails too.

This is definitely a nice county park.

Welcome to my dream home and camp in its glory for a night

What a pivotal moment - to invite strangers into your home - and yet this is what you become part of at Yurt in the Pines. First Bob and Roxanne sit down with you to lessen the distance of unknowing. Their commitment to an ethical lifestyle permeates their conversation and continues as you tour their property. Reclaimed and/or locally sourced building material went into creating the elements that make this off grid home. From a solar powered dehydrator to the solar panels powering the house, a commitment to living with a small carbon footprint is evident. The mowed paths guide you around - past the impeccable garden and the building they’re preparing as another guest house. You’ll want to stop at the outhouse. A brilliant rope catch holds the door closed. A repurposed solar shower provides running water. To top it off, local students built it to help fuel their college dreams. The path meanders through the property. We saw deer and beaver tracks along with a variety of wildflowers. Watch your step as you explore this former Christmas tree farm.

Eventually the path leads to the yurt. It’s in a large grassy opening with plenty of room for additional tents. A picnic table is near the fire pit. Bob and Roxanne even started a fire so I would have warm coals as a base for my own fire. Plenty of wood and some kindling was nearby. Open the glass door (with another fascinating closure system) and enter the wood floored yurt. A table holds fresh water. They gave me a mat that folds into a couch to use. After a comfortable nights sleep, I woke to sun rays outlining the pine tree framed by the glass door. Bob and Roxanne thought of all the details to make this a perfect place.

If the yurt and beautiful setting don’t entice you to come back, the friendliest hosts around will beckon your return.

State forest dispersed camping

Dispersed camping along the forest roads. Areas are cleared away that are quite separate giving some privacy. They are right on the road so vehicles pass by. Off road trails can be found but we did not discover cleared hiking paths. After finding a tick quickly we just hiked along the road. Only one other camper so during the non-hunting season this might be a good stopover.

We did encounter a lot of birds as well as deer.

Quiet bluff on the the river

When the directions are to go around the road closed sign you know adventure awaits. This remote site is perfect to get away and still be close to town. This is one you can reserve and get the entire site. The owner lived 5 minutes away and is available when you need help. We stayed on the top by the picnic table, fire pit and composting outhouse. There is a great clearing underneath tall trees - complete with firewood and even a couple chairs. The road curls down the hill to arrive next to the root river. Camping is possible here but a 4x4 might be needed - weather dependent. We spent time exploring the groomed trails and enjoying the river. The view of the bluff is wonderful.

We drove over to Quarry Hill Nature Center. An amazing nature center with exhibit styles that I’ve never seen before. You can walk over some and look from above through viewing windows. My dog and I hiked on paved, groomed and dirt trails for an enjoyable day.

This is truly a place to remember!

A quiet, forest campground

A smaller quiet campground in a state forest. You need a Wisconsin State Forest pass to camp here - an extra fee if you don’t have one already. The sites are varied. Some are closer together with less vegetation between them. Others are more spread out. The view from our site was the backs of other campers so we had privacy. Electric and non-electric sites are interspersed. There are vault toilets in camp and a shower house just outside of the campsite area. A playground and nature trails give the family something to explore. There is a shelter house available too. A mountain bike trail heads right out from camp. Lots of ATV trails in the area too. A little road noise can be heard but it’s easily forgotten. Town is just a few minutes away if you forgot something.

Ranger review: Eclipse sun protective clothing at Creek Side Sounds

Campground Review: This perfect oasis captured our hearts right away. The red barn calls out and leads your attention to the grassy field. Listen and you will hear the creek. The owners are really friendly and are doing a great job opening up their space for a few campers. An open field awaits with choices of spots. They’re renovating the barn into a rental space too. A fresh water well is next to the garden. An outhouse is available. This is perfect! Close enough to the highway and yet really quiet. The dip into the valley keeps the noise away. Several state parks are in the area as well as the mighty Mississippi River. This is definitely a place you should check out.

Product review: As a Dyrt Ranger, sometimes I get products to review. This time I’ve been enjoying some sun protection clothing from Eclipse ( check them out at https://eclipseglove.com ). I tossed the sleeves in my backpack and they were ready when the sun hit out on the trail. They are a tight fit and stayed up nicely. I thought they would be too hot - a long sleeve layer in 90 degree heat - but I actually felt comfortable. They felt almost chilly when the breeze hit. I’ll be keeping these handy. I also tried out the long sleeve shirt. It comes with or without a hood. This was also handy around camp. They are great at giving me protection from the sun and not leaving me coated with sunscreen which is difficult to clean up without showers.

Insider Tip: I pretreated them with permethrin to keep the mosquitoes at bay. It was a perfect combination of lightweight sun protection that kept pests away

Spot to stop for the night

This is right next to a river and beautiful waterfall. Lots of sites close together but they have electric. There is a great playground. Feel like performing? There’s a covered picnic area with a elevated stage. Town is nearby. In fact, the main road is right by the campground making for noise.

First to Review
Spacious sites in the Wisconsin woods

Nestled within Wisconsin forest you find Sailor Lake. This national forest campground has water access as well as sites away from the lake. We stayed at site 12 - a pull through site away from the water.

Many, although not all, of the waterside sites are for tents. You park and carry your gear down a few steps for a close to the water feel. There is an open area for everyone to enjoy the lake - it’s filled with purple flowers today. With plenty of woods around, all sites offer privacy but they have different vibes. Plenty of choice here so look around or reserve one. Plenty of sites available for walk-ins too. A couple of vault toilets, garage receptacle and water source round out a nice camp.

ATV trails as well as non-motorized trails are plentiful. We hiked on them and it was nice. Minimal cell signal encourages disconnecting for your stay.