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Just 15 minutes away from Big Stone City and featuring over 300 acres of Big Stone Lake coastline is a lovely recreation area characterized by blooming wildflowers, open prairies, and scenic trails. The mesmerizing natural landscape of Hartford Beach State Park beckons boaters, anglers, history buffs, and hikers. The park’s centerpiece attraction, Big Stone Lake, was formed from the 10,000-year-old River Warren. What once was a river formed from melted glaciers is now a part of the Big Stone Lake.
Hartford Beach State Park campers will be able to walk or hike along the rocky and wooded shorelines, play volleyball, or explore the lake on a watercraft. They also get to spend their time here relaxing and breathing in some fresh air while walking a region full of trees, prairie grass, wildflowers in bloom. Some of the trees you can find in the park include cottonwood and basswood, sometimes called “bee trees.”
Due to the park’s decently developed campgrounds, RVers also love to come here on a family summer vacation to enjoy picnics in nature, cool off in the water, and relax while sunbathing. It's easy to find RV rentals in Roberts County if you don't own a motorhome. You can also search for a rental in towns like Milbank, just 15 miles away, or go with a larger but more remote starting point like Watertown, located 50 miles away.
If you choose to go hiking at Hartford Beach State Park, you'll have two options. The first trail is the Robar Trail, where you can expect grassy and dirt-covered pathways perfect for biking, nature viewing, and cross-country skiing during winter. Once you're at the camp’s entrance booth, you'll need to walk around half a mile to get to the three-quarter-mile Robar Trail, which is connected with Aspen Springs Trail.
Another trail you can access from Hartford Beach State Park is the Village View Trail. With the trail surface almost the same as in the previously mentioned trail, this one-eighth-mile-long trail is less physically demanding.
Birdwatching enthusiasts should definitely bring their binoculars to the park. Many birds native to South Dakota can be spotted here, either in trees, roaming about on the ground, or surveying the area while soaring across the skies. Those who are patient and observant might spot black-capped chickadee, American goldfinch, red-tailed hawk, and downy woodpecker. Some interesting bird species often found near the ground are American robin, wild turkey, and red-winged blackbird.
Those who come here to camp in an RV tend to spend their days competing in disc golf or picnicking. The park is also a place where you can sit quietly as you wait for a fish to bite. Anglers come here in hopes of catching bass, perch, or crappie. Even if you don’t have your fishing gear, you can rent the equipment you need at the park.
There are two camping areas with more than 80 sites designated for tent and RV camping. As far as hookups go, you can expect electric sites, but no water or sewer hookups. A dump station, toilets, and drinking water are all provided, along with picnic and warming shelters as well as boat ramps.
Feel free to opt for a big rig when searching for a motorhome rental near Hartford Beach State Park. There are sites available here that fit RVs up to 70 feet long. Bear in mind, though, that from early October to May, the water is typically shut off. You can make reservations online or by calling the park office.
Your motorhome camping experience will be all the more memorable if you take time to see the attractions nearby. You can start exploring by visiting Big Stone City and Ortonville, right across the South Dakota-Minnesota line. Here, you'll find a number of different stores in case you need supplies or souvenirs, as well as gas stations if you need to top off the tank. You'll also have several dining options within both cities, as there are bar-and-grills, bakeries, pizzerias, famous brands of fast-food restaurants, family restaurants, and more.
While you're in Ortonville, be sure to check out Big Stone County Museum. This is a good place to learn about the area's history, wildlife, and culture. You'll get to see exhibits that feature different fossils and artifacts, along with photos, log cabins, and machinery used in the early 20th century.
Drive an hour from the state park to Watertown, as there are multiple cultural, artistic, and historic attractions you can experience. You can visit an art gallery that showcases paintings of a famous local painter, Terry Redlin. The building itself is awe-inspiring, and the same goes for the impressive art collection inside it. If you're a fan of Redlin's work, there's also a shop that sells reproduced paintings so you can purchase one to decorate your own walls.
For those who love animals and taking awesome photos with them, Watertown has a huge zoo that's open throughout the year. With an extensive collection of exotic mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, the time will simply fly here as you're looking around. If you're with your toddlers, you might want to look into the events the zoo hosts, as your little ones will definitely find them entertaining and educational.