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On the doorstep of the rugged Black Hills mountain range, Hot Springs / Black Hills KOA is located in the far southwest corner of South Dakota. It’s a great base for exploring Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park, as well as the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.
RV camping at Hot Springs / Black Hills KOA includes access to their range of full hookup RV sites, with maximum 50-amp electrical connections. They can cater to RVs up to 80 feet in length, with complimentary Wi-Fi and cable TV both included in your stay.
There’s a swimming pool that’s open from the Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, as well as a basketball court and mini-golf course to keep young guests entertained. Pets are welcome to stay with you and can take advantage of the off-leash dog park while there’s a 24-hour laundry so you can catch up on your washing. Propane and firewood are both available for sale at the small on-site store, and there’s a book exchange if you’re in need of a new read.
Camp in an RV near Hot Springs and make the short drive north to Wind Cave National Park, which is the first cave to be designated as a national park anywhere in the world. It encompasses a vast cave system comprised of numerous chambers whose walls are honeycombed in boxwork calcite formations. Join one of the local rangers on the easy Garden of Eden tour and the popular Natural Entrance tour or embark on the more challenging Fairgrounds Cave tour, which explores the upper and middle levels of Wind Cave.
Continue driving east, and you’ll arrive at the Custer State Park, which is the largest of its kind in South Dakota and the first state park to be established here. It sprawls across more than 71,000 acres and is famed for its herd of around 1,500 free-roaming bison, as well as white-tailed deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. Begin your visit at the heritage-listed Peter Norbeck Center to learn about the park’s natural and cultural history, then explore along one of the scenic drives that offer impressive views of the bison herd. Also within the park’s bounds is the Badger Clark Historic Site. It protects the former home of South Dakota’s first Poet Laureate and has been maintained as it appeared when he lived there.
Camping at Hot Springs / Black Hills KOA is also a good base for visiting Badlands National Park, which encompasses dramatic canyons and layered rock formations. It’s also home to large numbers of bison and bighorn sheep, as well as prairie dogs that reside on the immense grasslands. Follow the Badlands Loop Road that accesses the park’s scenic lookouts or explore one of the numerous trails that depart from the visitor center, including the short Fossil Exhibit Trail where fossils uncovered in the park are displayed.
Hot Springs campers have numerous supermarkets on their doorstep, as well as gas stations if you need to fill up your RV rental. Hot Springs is also home to a couple of fast-food restaurants and eateries if you want to dine out. If you’re visiting the city, be sure to stop in at the Pioneer Museum, which occupies a prominent sandstone building that dates to 1893. Once serving as an elementary school, it’s now filled with old photographs, artifacts, and pioneer-era treasures that detail the people and events that have shaped the region.
Hot Springs is also home to the Mammoth Site, an active paleontological excavation site at a prehistoric sinkhole. Fauna and flora dating to the Pleistocene have been uncovered here, including the greatest concentration of mammoth remains in the world. The on-site museum displays an impressive collection of mammoth remains while volunteers and visiting scientists can sometimes be seen busy at work on the site itself.
Equine lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, which was founded in 1988 by Dayton O. Hyde. It was created to give America’s wild horses a place to roam free, with hundreds of wild mustangs now inhabiting its 11,000 acres of wind-swept prairie. Guided tours are offered on request to get you up close to the large bands of Choctaw Indian ponies and American mustangs for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Whether you want to get up close to mammoth remains or see South Dakota’s living wildlife, book an RV in Fall River County and start planning your next vacation.