first-come, first-served state park campgrounds - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-04-2012, 11:12 AM   #1
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first-come, first-served state park campgrounds

The mister and I are headed west with his parents at the end of next month. One of our planned stops is Custer State Park in South Dakota, which has first come first served camping.

We'll be arriving there in the middle of the week, the tuesday before the Labor Day weekend. I'm figuring people don't usually arrive there only to find no vacancies or they'd have gone to a reservation system, but thought I should ask anyway. We need to get both a little camping cabin for the in-laws as well as an RV site for the Burro.

Can I safely assume that among the 3 or 4 campground areas in the park that have cabins, that there's going to be a place for us when we get there?
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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No!


Or, Sure! If and only if your cool with not having a site or cabin.


Depending on what days next month your planning on going, you run the chance of last minute vacations before school. Last minute camping before summer is over.

So if your cool with no camp site and the in-laws sharing the trailer with you, then go for it otherwise I would recommend making reservations in a private park.


Personally, driving across country to wing it on a campsite is not worth my vacation. Good luck!
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:54 AM   #3
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Robin, around here school starts that week before labor day, but I guess it's not the same schedule everywhere.

God forbid we all end up having to squeeze into the Burro! Maybe I'll regroup on this and aim for the Badlands KOA.
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Old 07-04-2012, 12:29 PM   #4
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Here school doesnt start until after Labour Day.

I have found that the last couple of weeks in August are normally *very* busy but the first couple of weeks in September are normally a good time to travel without to many plans as people with children are usually busy getting into a school and extra activity schedules and the snow birds haven't started to migrate south yet. You should check the area you are traveling to for school schedule... when going to a first come first serve spot always best to get there really early in the day (8 AM) though if its a popular spot. IMHO you should not have too much problems in finding another spot close by though if school is in. You could aways phone a few other spots close by first to see how booked up they are for that time frame to get a better feel for it.
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:56 PM   #5
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Problem is, Custer State Park is a destination rather than your local campground. People are finishing up there summer vacations. Around here schools start back mid Aug. But because schools all over the country start back at different times you have people rushing to get their last trip in before. As well as many try to get their travels in before the big holiday. It will be busy! The tourist season is short in areas like that, and Aug ranks second in tourist season months for places with short season. Because short season tourist areas, the months of May, June, and Sept can be iffy due to weather. So everyone comes July and Aug!

If you were just trying to get a site along the way, I am with you as far as going with just pulling in. Because it is always hard to guesstimate arrival dates and times. But needing a cabin put's a wrench in to that therory only because cabins are always available in every campground.
And due to that whole area being a desination, I wouldn't take a chance. I know back in 08/09 we had a rally up there in Sept. Every campground we went by was packed to the gills!


I can't imagine (Cabins) not being by reservation. Never heard of a first come first served cabin......... I would check that out, because it doesn't make sense in the business world . I know all the state parks here are reservation only on Cabins, Yurts, etc.......... Now you might pull in and get a open night but that's a big might! Good Luck! Enjoy your trip! It's beautiful there........
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Old 07-04-2012, 02:45 PM   #6
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Thanks Robin! You make a lot of sense - and yeah, I don't get the cabins/no reservations thing but that's the best I can make out of the state park info.

I ended up deciding we should play it safe and head for the badlands KOA. I think we'll be just as happy there, since none of us has been to this area before. We'll be sure to do a day trip or two to Custer SP but put it on the list for future trips during less busy times.
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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It sounds like you have already made your reservation at the Badlands KOA, but there are other options around Custer and Mt. Rushmore, too. There is a beautiful KOA at Mt. Rushmore that we stayed at in May. Also, there are private campgrounds near Custer and Crazy Horse Monument that are nice places. I think the need for the cabin makes it difficult to do this trip on "first come, first served." Good idea to make reservations. I know that many campers like to just find a place, but my wife won't let me! We always make reservations and plan our trips around the distances needed to be traveled each day. It's worked well for us over the past 6 years of trailer camping.

Be prepared for the heat in August in South Dakota! You'll also be following up a couple weeks after the Sturgis motorcycle annual festival and there will still be lots of bikers around the Black Hills. Have fun! It's a beautiful area and don't miss Crazy Horse. We find it to be even more interesting than Mt. Rushmore and we go every year. (We volunteer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation each year, building houses and fixing homes for the Lakota.)
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:30 PM   #8
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Jen, I just checked and Custer does have reservations. In fact the cabins are reservations only...... Heres a link,South Dakota DNR::Online Reservations


I agree with Kevin, there are so many great options around there. But I think it's worth a try getting into Custer with reservations.


And yup, if your coming this far I would say, see everything! Love Mt Rushmore, but Crazy Horse is as neat if not neater.......
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:36 PM   #9
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Here are some other campgrounds around Custer that have camping and cabins: Heritage Village (www.heritage-village.com), Beaver Lake (Beaver Lake Campground), and Custer/Crazy Horse (CUSTER CRAZY HORSE CAMPGROUND - Clean - Centrally Located - Scenic).

The Badlands KOA is nice, but you are a Looooooong way away from the Black Hills and Custer Park. If you can make a cabin reservation for Custer St. Park, I'm sure they'll fit in your trailer, too.
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Old 07-04-2012, 03:47 PM   #10
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Wow guys, look at me go - totally misread their state park site. SMRT.

But thinking more about it, I think we'll be happy staying closer to the Badlands. That was the original idea, anyway. We'll have pine forested mountains in Wyoming during the following week of the trip, so some prairie time will be just the thing.

My husband and I do wildlife photography so hunting for critters will be the main thing for us, and his parents will be happy doing easy walks or car tours,etc. We'll put Crazy Horse on the list, with president faces on a big rock not being a huge draw.

Thanks everybody for input!
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