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South Dakota ranks in backside 10 of nationwide tenting research, native campgrounds don’t agree


RAPID CITY, SD (KEVN) – Summer will officially be here in late June, meaning more people will head to the hills to enjoy the scenery and maybe camp in it.

However, a study conducted by Lawn Love ranks campgrounds in South Dakota in the bottom 10 nationally, something local campgrounds disagree with.

For the past 30 years, Sherry Nelson, co-owner of Lake Park Campground, has kept her cabins in the shape of boats. “I would be very comfortable if you feel like home away from home.”

It leads to a place that people have revisited, she says, because “it’s a bit like old grandma’s. She gets to welcome all her family and friends who come on holiday and that’s all we do. I mean, it’s literally just preparing for company and then having fun with them while they’re here!”

She says that means constantly trimming trees, mowing grass, painting picnic tables and sprucing up facilities, because “you prepare all those things every day to make sure it’s perfect. Grandma is coming to stay. It has to be that clean.”

Keeping bugs out where they belong and hanging out with the birds who might be hanging out with guests so they can “come back.” [their] Roots and doing things together as a family, throwing rocks, playing and splashing around. Those are memories.”

There’s more to it than rock-hopping, she says Rapid City is kind of right in the middle. “When we’re in the middle. It’s like drawing a star and saying, ‘Why don’t you stay here?’ Spend less time and gas. Your time is valuable. So you can spend it with your family.”

On a tight budget, tourists can visit nearby spots like Custer, the Badlands, the Black Hills National Forest, and everything in between — while also making Rapid’s home base.

“Where the kids can go down and play by the creek,” says Nelson. “Or ride my bike around. Now they don’t go. They can do so much more with the few resources they have.”

This makes it difficult for Nelson when she hears people on the phone saying they are only staying for a few days. “My first thing is fear because I want them to stay longer.” Which is beneficial for the guest who can experience all the hills have to offer and for local businesses who make some money. “Everyone gets money if they stay longer. even the coffee shop on the corner. Stay somewhere in South Dakota, but stay somewhere in Rapid.”

“I’m a Rapid Citizen,” Nelson says with a smile.

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