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The Realities of Mount Rushmore RV Camping

The Realities of Mount Rushmore RV Camping 

Summer is here, and there’s no better place to visit during this season than South Dakota. This beautiful western state is most well-known for Mount Rushmore RV camping vacations. 

We’ve enjoyed visiting Mount Rushmore and the entire state, but there are some realities you should know before booking your RV park reservations.

Here are five realities most people don’t know about Mount Rushmore RV camping and what to do when you’re in the area.

There’s Free Camping Near Mount Rushmore

There are several places to camp around Mount Rushmore, but two free sites are Wrinkled Rock Trailhead and Keyrapmore Dispersed Camping. 

Wrinkled Rock Trailhead gives you access to rock climbing on the backside of Mount Rushmore (no rock climbing can be done on the sculptures themselves!). Here you’ll find toilets, but not much else in the way of amenities. But hey, it’s free!

Keyrapmore Dispersed Camping offers a great central location to get you to Mount Rushmore and beyond. You can camp here for up to 14 days consecutively, but you won’t have access to any amenities.

Many Nearby RV Parks Have Dynamic Pricing

Like most seasonal places, you can expect RV parks to offer higher prices during the good weather months. For South Dakota, that’s late spring to early fall. You’ll pay a little more in campground fees, but the prices are still reasonable compared to many other well-traveled states.

The nice thing about South Dakota is that the shoulder seasons, either when passing through or staying for a week or so, can bring good deals and good weather, too. 

We have visited Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore in the off-season and haven’t had too much difficulty with the weather, as long as we looked at the weather ahead of time before making plans.

Deadwood is Slightly Further Away, But It Offers a Unique Family Experience

If you’ve heard of the TV show Deadwood, this is a must-visit spot. 

Deadwood is a small town near Mount Rushmore, just west of Rapid City. When you visit, you’ll not only witness one of the oldest towns in the country, but you’ll learn about Old West figures like Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok.

In Deadwood, you’ll also find a KOA that offers the amenities that free campsites don’t provide. This KOA includes a pool, hot tub, and a group campfire site. It’s also in a great location that makes it easy to skip over to Spearfish Canyon for a waterfall hike or back to Crazy Horse/Mount Rushmore area to learn more about the history of the state. 

Deadwood is famously known for its gambling, which is not always family-friendly, but some casinos allow children inside. You can stop by Mustang Sally’s for a great little diner meal while the kids play arcade games, too.

Glamping to the Max

If you want to level up your trip to Mount Rushmore, try the Mt. Rushmore Glamping experience. Located on an original gold mining settlement, you’ll live as they did in the Old West in canvas tents under dark skies and Ponderosa pines.

For every stay, all meals are included, and you get to choose from one of many adventures, including kayaking, hiking, gold panning, and more!

Lots of HipCamp Sites Near Mount Rushmore

Since its inception, we have loved HipCamp, but if you don’t know anything about it, this app is basically the Airbnb of camping. You pay a lesser fee to camp on land owned by locals in the nearby area, which is perfect for RV travelers!

Thankfully, there are tons of HipCamp spots near Mount Rushmore. 

From tent and RV campsites to log cabins, there are plenty of places to stay nearby at a lesser price than most campgrounds.

BONUS: Insider Tips from Our Experience

As with all places, the earlier you get up to see a tourist site, the better. Mount Rushmore is no exception. Be sure to get there early to get a prime RV spot, but when you’re done, don’t forget about another amazing rock sculpture, Crazy Horse. Once a year, there is a march up to the top of Crazy Horse, which is an incredible experience if you get the chance to participate.

If you want a more outdoorsy experience, I suggest booking a campsite or cabin at Custer State Park. This state park is HUGE and offers tons of outdoor activities from hiking, biking, fishing, and more. You can stop along the Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway to make friends with some wild donkeys. But don’t feed them!

Overall, visiting the Mount Rushmore state is a great way to learn more about our nation’s history and get your body moving outdoors in the fresh air. South Dakota is one of the least populated states in the U.S., but it offers so much more than just a few cities and Mount Rushmore. If you enjoy rock climbing, motorcycle rallies, Native American culture, and fair weather in the summer, be sure to stop by.

Discover the Best Free Camping in North America

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy). You should give it a try! As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours.

Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

  1. Brett and Cheri (Hello Freedom) says:

    RPI MEMBERS: The Hart Ranch RV Resort is $10 per night with a $10 “resort fee” per night (total of $20 per night) for a 14-night stay. I think it’s 90-day advance booking (might be 60.) That is a great deal for an RV “resort” in this area. Also, for those so inclined, Boondocking right on the cliff overlooking Badlands for free. Was too wet when we were there in May 2019 to try to navigate through the muddy ruts at that time. I’m sure many of you have seen the amazing YouTube posts from this spot.

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