Black Hills Trailside Park Resort in Hill City was our basecamp for visiting the Black Hills in South Dakota. The campground, or resort, as campgrounds are frequently being re-titled, was situated between a mountain stream and a rails to trails biking/walking path. Within Hill City, the location provided easy access to many desirable attractions within the Black Hills. So, what was the good, and not so good, of Cricket Camping at Black Hills Trailside Park Resort?
We booked a back in site with water, electric, and sewer. The center of the campground was wide open, making backing into our site an easy task. We backed up to the grassy banks of a stream that was the sound track of our week, except when the Harley's rolled by! Being there the week before the Sturgis Rally meant that there were a lot of bikes in town. If fact, by Friday, downtown was closed to all traffic except bikes.
Back to our site. we rented gold-panning pans for the kids to seek their fortune in the creek. The kids enjoyed wading in the creek, panning for gold, and tried their luck at fishing. They were not successful in getting any gold or fish, but this was a fun way to relax.
On the other side of the campground was an access point to the Mickelson Trail. Several times during the week, we hopped on the trail to ride to a nearby park, explore Hill City, or just rode the trail. These trails are ideal as the grade is never too steep uphill or downhill, with frequent bridges and at least one tunnel near the campground. The downside for our adventurous children is that there are no hills, roads to cross, or other inherent danger to create excitement for the kids.
The bathhouses were beautiful--especially after two nights in a National Park! It had two private shower stalls that were spotless and little soaps and lotions like at a hotel were set out next to the sinks.. The only downside for these bathrooms is that they only had two toilets in the men's bathroom and three in the women's. Once or twice we had to wait to use the bathroom and it would be great if they would add additional toilets.
This campground was very nice. The kids have fun at the playground as well, which included a teepee. We really enjoyed the stream and bike path and we thought the bathhouse was very nice. However, calling it a resort is generous in our opinion. This term has become overused as private campgrounds strive to compete with the amenities offered at the franchise campground resorts.
Since we were staying for the week, we spread out our gear. We set up our Mountain Trails Sentinel Screen House. We found a great deal on the screen house and it fit perfectly over a round patio table and chairs. It would fit over a smaller picnic table, but it would be tight. This screen house weathered a storm with no issues while our awning took a beating.
We also set up our outdoor kitchen, anchored by our Browning Camping Table, and our Camp Chef Stove. However for cooking fast dinners at the campsite, we splurged and got this Instant Pot, which was the rock star of campground cuisine. An Instant Pot is an electric, programmable pressure cooker that can also slow cook and saute. We prepared and froze seven meals before we started this trip and cooked a hot dinner in minutes each night at the campground. We are planning another blog to share these recipes and our feedback with using it at the campsite.
Hill City is a great town in the Black Hills. It's not dramatically different from the other nearby towns we visited. The shops and their employees were nice, we recommend you stop in and make a purchase from the great couple that runs Twisted Pine Winery. They stayed late when we accidentally wandered in after they closed and even offered to start a wine tasting with us.
Hill City is home to the 1880 Train tour, a day trip to Keystone. We recently took steam train rides at the Grand Canyon and Chattanooga, so we chose to pass this time. We noticed that they attracted a big crowd each day and it had a nice little gift shop to peruse.
Why did we chose to stay at Hill City? We had planned to camp at the Badlands. As the trip grew closer, we researched more and learned that many attractions we wanted to do would be a 90 minute drive away from the Badlands. However, from Hill City, we could visit six of the Great 8 within about a 30 minute drive. This was appealing to us. Stay tuned to see how we explored the Great 8 and a few more stops as Cricket Camping continues to explore the Dakotas!
Shane and Jessica
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