Your guide to exploring the great outdoors in South Dakota is finally here! The Midwest isn’t the first thing you think of when planning a road trip, but most folks do travel through on their way from coast to coast. Surprisingly, South Dakota has many exhilarating things to do and unique places to experience. You may even find some gold while you’re here! Lets see what’s on the list.
Art Alley in Rapid City
First stop on our guide to exploring the great outdoors in South Dakota is in our hometown, Rapid City! Hop out to explore this gem located in downtown Rapid City on the side of Hotel Alex Johnson. “Art Alley” is known for the local artists expressive forms of life meaning. Take a cool selfie or artistic shot for your social media feed to show your intuitive wild side. The art is said to change weekly, having artists from all over the world stop in and “blast” pieces on the wall during their visit. You never know… you might show up and see one come to life before your eyes.
Experience Mount Rushmore
This famous monument, visited by over 2 million tourists each year, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a town called Keystone. The faces of these founding fathers are over 60ft in length and almost 100 years old. In the 1950s and 1960s, local Lakota Sioux elder Benjamin Black Elk (son of medicine man Black Elk, who had been present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) was known as the “Fifth Face of Mount Rushmore”, posing for photographs with thousands of tourists daily in his native attire. The South Dakota State Historical Society notes that he was one of the most photographed people in the world over that twenty-year period. Get your camera out and pose like Benjamin Black Elk in front of the faces for an epic historical photograph.
Pan For Gold in the Historic Department
“We’re rich!” In 1874 gold was discovered at French Creek in South Dakota, now referred to as “Custer County”. Since then over 20 million ounces of gold have been discovered. Today, many visitors stop and pan for gold in the streams surrounding the Black Hills. Make sure you’re prepared to explore this unique experience! You’re going to need:
- A gold pan – A variety of gold pans can be purchased, or you can make your own with a shallow, round pan lined on the bottom with lightly crumpled aluminum foil.
- A spade – A small spade or hand-shovel will be necessary for transferring river sediment into your pan.
- A seat – Squatting next to a riverbank quickly becomes exhausting. It’s usually a good idea to have a nice, low seat to sit on, such as a step-stool
- A safe place to put your findings – You could end up with thousands of flakes of gold by the end of the day that are no thicker than an eyelash; make sure you have a secure place to put them after panning so they don’t simply get swept away in the wind.
- Free time and patience – Gold panning isn’t normally done as a means of reliable income anymore. You can certainly make some money with it, but it is very easy to become frustrated if you can’t be patient.
Take An Easy Hike to Spearfish Falls
Talk about an interesting story behind this natural wonder! During the early 1800s, the Burlington Railroad line took passengers right over Spearfish Falls, making it a popular tourist icon back in the day. Though, in 1917, the falls were actually turned off for 86 years, as the creek water was diverted to a hydroelectric power plant for the Homestake Gold Mine. But in 2003, the waterfall was restored. To this day, you can see the remains of the rail line. Because the falls were defunct for so long, they’re definitely a lesser-known gem in the canyon, and the hike, which starts from the parking lot of the Latchstring Restaurant, is pretty easy.
Visit the World’s Only Corn Palace
In 1892 (when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants) the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. Now over 100 year old, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. The palace was conceived as a gathering place where city residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival with extraordinary stage entertainment – a celebration to climax a crop-growing season and harvest. This tradition continues today with the annual Corn Palace Festival held in late August each year.
We hope this guide was helpful with fun ideas for you to explore in the great state of South Dakota. If you’re looking for a means to travel, look no further than Green Star Campers. Green Star Camper Center, a South Dakota RV Dealership carries New Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels and Used Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels. We stock Rockwood and R.Pod’s by Forest River, as well as Bullet by Keystone and many more. Give us a call today at 605-343-6877 or visit us at 120 N. Cambell Street Rapid City, SD. 57703
Lately it has become progressively common for people of all ages to take on the art of living through RV’ing. Exploring life through the vast planes, mountainous ridges and winding valleys can be enticing and gives families the opportunity to create everlasting memories. Some even take it a step further by setting up camp in completely underdeveloped areas.. crazy right? Well not THAT crazy. This way of RV’ing is referred to as “Boondocking”. No hookups, no noisy neighbors, just you and the company you want with what you have. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, lets discover how to get started with boondocking.
Just about everyday you will need to think about where to stop and rest over night in a safe, free parking lot. There are three well known ways to do this:
- Stealth camping. Stealth camping is mainly for vans and smaller RVs. You can park anywhere that doesn’t have a “no parking” sign and the possibility of security knocking on your door in the middle of the night (apartment complex, hotels, etc). This would be considered a short term overnight option.
- Parking lots. Walmart, Bass Pro Shop, Cracker Barrel, and others like this with large parking lots will often allow for free overnight parking. Each store is different so check out the guidelines by looking online or calling in. Other great options are rest stops, picnic areas and truck stops if you just need a place to park for the night in between destinations.
- Dispersed camping. This is a term used for free camping that is allowed on public land, including National Forest Land and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land. Each state has other options for dispersed camping, such as State Trust Land, State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, State Parks, etc. You’ll need to know the regulations and check for road closures ahead of time With dispersed camping, there aren’t marked campsites or services/facilities and it’s first come first serve. The idea is that you show up and pick a suitable, open spot for your RV within the boundaries and can typically stay up to 14 days although you’ll want to verify the relevant limit.
Power sources such as generators, RV batteries and inverters for cell phones are a great way to charge up. Take it a step further by purchasing a Solar Panel package. These consist of panels, batteries, an inverter, a controller and all the necessary line fuses and cables needed to live life on the green side. This will also ensure you never run out of energy. Pretty smart and eco-friendly, right?
Believe it or not, water will run out fast. Making sure you have the right amount of containers to fill up is important. You’re going to want to do this at just about every stop you make to avoid running out. Additionally, you’ll want to consider a few extra jugs if you have pets on board. While washing dishes and clothing you will carry two tubs, one to wash with and one to rinse off. For showering options, bathe at RV campsites or install a pressurized showerhead that saves water. You can find one for under 10 dollars here.
Parking in a populated place that feels safe is not always your best bet but sometimes it is. To maintain a theft free experience you’ll want to practice safety at all time. An idea from one of our frequent buyers is to put a sticker on the outside door of your RV to indicate that an alarm system or guard dog in inside. Better yet, install a 12 volt alarm or take your pup RVing with you. A doggo makes a great alarm system and no one wants to be bitten by one.
It is also smart to engage in conversation with other Boondockers to share experiences. Collaboration can be key for knowing how to stay safe while traveling. Lastly, if you ever feel unsafe and own a motor home, keep the jacks up, awning in and your RV ready to roll. If you are threatened you can just jump in the cockpit and drive away at a moment’s notice. Safety is number one, so make sure you stay alert but also don’t worry too much. Boondocking is generally a safe and fun way to live on the road.
At Green Star Campers we want to make sure you’re well informed and equipped for your boondocking expeditions. We carry both new and used travel trailers while also a large selection of fifth wheels. We are the largest RV accessory and parts store in Rapid City. Visit us online or on-site today to get you ready to hit the road, or feel free to give us a call at 800-817-4879 if you have any questions!
We know buying a brand new RV or motorhome isn’t always an option for those in South Dakota. That’s why we here at Greenstar Camper Center are ready to help you find the best used RV for you. It can save you money, but there are so many things that can go wrong when purchasing a used rig. It’s also quite a bit different than buying new.
First, we’ll talk about some general things to do before you begin your search. Then, we’ll lay out a more specific guide to finding the right used RV for you. Here’s our best tips for buying a used travel trailer!
What kind of trailer best fits you?
To begin, decide what sort of travel trailer will best fit your lifestyle. Have a large ATV or four-wheeler? Look at toy haulers. Maybe you just need a bit more sleeping space. In this case, check out a travel trailer. Or, if you like to have a bit of luxury with you, look into fifth wheels. Once you determine this, you can start narrowing down a price range and age of your rig.
Choose an RV Dealer
This is the perfect time to reach out to the RV community on the best and honest dealerships in your area or beyond. Their experiences will often help you find a dealer you can be upfront with and trust. Dealers are always receiving RVs from either trade or consignment, so you know you’ll always have lots of options when it comes to used rigs. Here at Green Star Camper Center, our friendly staff if always ready to help you choose the right used RV for your needs.
Now, you’ve got your eye on a few RVs that you like. Read our list of things to look for when you go to the dealer for a walk through!
- Don’t buy unless you’ve seen it in person. This is probably the most important advice we can give you! Buying a new RV online is fine, but it’s so easy to hide any major imperfections a used RV has by not uploading photos of it. It’s also a good idea to walk away if the dealer doesn’t want to do a thorough walk through with you. The price might seem too good to be true, but if you take a closer look, it may end up costing you more in the long run due to maintenance.
- Check carefully for any signs of mold. Even if there aren’t any visible signs of water damage on the ceilings or floors, mold on the interior of the RV usually means there’s some sort of water leak. So, look in all the corners, especially in the bathroom. Take a flashlight and look under all cabinets and closets to check for any mold growing. You’ll probably be able to smell it first, but if the closets or cabinets are significantly warmer than the rest of the RV, there’s a chance you’ll find mold growing.
- Look at every inch of the ceiling. As you’re checking for mold in the cabinets and closets, don’t forget to look up at the ceiling. Any brown spots or bows in the ceiling are signs of a leak. While a ceiling can be repaired, it can be expensive, and you risk unveiling more damage once you begin tearing it out. It’s not normally worth the expense, so if you see these signs, it’s probably better to move on to the next RV.
- Inspect all floors. You’re checking for two things here – mold and sturdiness. Like the ceiling, check for any brown spots where the wall meets the floor. To survey sturdiness, jump up and down (seriously) in a few spots, mostly in the kitchen and bathroom where most of the water is. Everything should feel stable secure. It you feel too much give, it could be a sign of rotting.
- Inspecting the exterior – Check the walls. Press with a reasonable amount of force on the outside of the walls to feel for any give. While you’re inspecting the outside of the RV, look at any panels, too. They should all be dry and free of dirt and debris.
- Inspect the roof. Once you’ve checked the outside walls of the RV, it’s time to hop up on the roof and make sure it’s stable. If you feel a bit too much give, it’s probably beginning to rot or already rotted.
- Take your time and shop around. We know it’s incredibly exciting once you’ve decided to start searching for a travel trailer. However, try not to rush into a decision because you’re ready to get out on the open road. There are so many great used RVs out there, and you might end up with a dud if you don’t extend your search.
When searching for a used travel trailer, you’re really looking for any signs of mold, and you’re making sure the rig is still sturdy and stable. Water damage isn’t always obvious or apparent, so knowing exactly where to look for these signs will help you get the best bang for your buck. It could look like a great deal at face value, but if there’s water damage, you might just be wasting your money.
If you’re in the market for a used travel trailer, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look through our available travel trailers available right now. You can contact us and one of our staff members will be your trusted guide in choosing the RV that you’ll fall in love with over and over.
Ah winter. Some love it. Some hate it. Regardless of which way you fall, it’s hard on everyone. But, it can be especially hard on your RV. Your RV is a huge purchase, and the care you take of it should be extensive. Just like stationary houses, RVs have lots of plumbing areas that are vessels for water, so preparing it for winter is a critical step in taking good care for your rig. It could get expensive if you don’t!
How cold is too cold for my RV?
You may wonder if you even need to winterize your RV, depending on where you live. Any time the temperature stays 32 degrees or under for more than a few hours, you should winterize. However, if it only gets that cool at night but warms up during the day, it might be fine. To be safe, several begin to winterize once the temperature reaches down into the 40s.
In order to thoroughly winterize, you’ll need to consider all parts, and not just the plumbing.
It can seem overwhelming, but we’ve made a list of how to prepare the interior, exterior and chassis components of your RV so she’ll be waiting with open arms when spring arrives. Follow these steps to get your RV as prepared as possible for winter!
- Remove any water filters. This should be the first thing you do before anything, because any winterization chemicals will damage the filter anyway. This is also a great time to see if any of those filers need to be replaced for next spring.
- Drain the gray and black water tanks. It is so important to not let any water sit in your rig over the winter for many reasons. Water is grounds for all types of bacteria, and water expands when it freezes, which could cause catastrophic damage. Starting with the black water tank, drain both and then clean them with a special kind of tank cleaner.
- Bypass the water heater and any water lines. To remove the water from the water heater, you’ll need to turn it off, let it cool and wait for it to be not under pressure. You can remove any pressure by opening a hot water faucet once you have the 12-volt water pump switched to “off.” Once it cools down, you can open the pressure relief valve to help water drain quicker. Then open all your faucets and any drain lines. Don’t forget the toilet, shower, ice maker and washing machine! You can use the 12-volt water pump to help force any remaining water out, but close it as soon as it’s all drained to prevent damage to the pump.
Most RVs come with a water heater bypass kit. If yours doesn’t, the antifreeze will fill up your water heater before it gets to the water lines, wasting several gallons. Here, you can choose to install one yourself or have a local RV maintenance shop install one for you.
- Antifreeze. Once you’ve done all the above, and not a second sooner, it’s time to add antifreeze to your rig. From here, you have a few options. You can install a water pump converter kit, or you can disconnect the inlet side of your water pump (the line that comes from the fresh water tank) and put that inside your antifreeze jug. You’ll then want to turn on your 12-volt water pump which will pressurize the water system and start pumping out antifreeze. Beginning at the faucet closest to the 12-volt pump, open each one until antifreeze begins to run, replacing the jug as needed. Repeat this process until each faucet and water line has antifreeze pumping through it. Only open one faucet at a time. You’ll also need to flush the toilet until antifreeze appears, and pour antifreeze down each drain. Make sure all faucets are closed after you complete these steps.
Get help if you need it. If you aren’t comfortable doing all of these yourself, don’t fret! Simply take your RV to your local dealership or maintenance shop. They’ll be more than happy to take care of the process for you so it can be done correctly.
Along with preparing your water pipes for winter, be sure to winterize the whole rig itself. The following is a short list of things to consider:
-Remove any food in the pantry, cupboards and refrigerator
-Clean from top to bottom, wiping any surfaces
-Check for leaks or any damage
-Park your RV with the emergency brake on and use wheel chocks.
-Clean your sewer hose
-Before storing, consider a deep wash and wax to the exterior
You’ve just winterized your RV! It can seem a bit extensive and even a bit obsessive, but it’s necessary to take these steps to prevent any serious damage to your RV during the winter months. Winterizing your RV is a lot of work, but it will be worth it to have it waiting on you in mint condition when spring rolls around.
For other tips on winterizing for your specific RV, it’s a great idea to look through the owner’s manual. Different types of RVs have other needs before you can completely store it away for the winter, or it may call for specific techniques unique to that rig.
Are there any specific steps you take to winterize? Let us know in the comments!
If you are looking to make your RV feel more spacious and livable, start with your kitchen. There are so many things that you can do to utilize the space that you have and find ways to make room for all of your belongings. Some are easy installations while others are as simple as using magnets! Your RV may not be very big, but don’t let your kitchen allow you to feel restricted. Use some of these RV kitchen hacks to upgrade your RV kitchen.
Do not overpack
We are all guilty of it! The excuse: we never know what we are going to need! But, regarding the kitchen, we kind of do! That doesn’t mean leave all the spices and cookware behind, just know what you are going to be using on a daily basis.
Start with your cookware. Go through your cabinets and bring a max of 4 pots and pans, with lids. It is important to bring what you need, but you do not need 2 or 3 or every type of pot. You should also bring enough cups and plates to where you are not doing dishes every day, but you also have nowhere to put them. Aluminum foil is a must and a Dutch oven for any campfire meals!
Meal prep will help with all of this. Have you ever meal prepped before? If not, this is not as hard as you think. Plan on what meals you are going to have every single day. That may seem a bit tedious, but it is much easier when you choose easy meals! You can make a lot of things prior and have them ready to cook so you are using no dishes to prep and only a few to make it. This will also allow you to reuse the Tupperware and containers for leftovers.
Get Creative with your Storage
Storing all of your kitchen supplies correctly is the most important thing that you can do to utilize space. Start with putting up some shelves. You can add these to extra wall space but mostly think about doing this in all of your cabinets or stand-alone cupboards. Remember, you always want to stack and store up and down not left to right. The best way to create more space is to safely stack.
You can also stack within your cabinets. Stackable bowls and Tupperware is extremely convenient and you can store twice as many items as you typically would be able to. Do not forget about all of under cabinet storage as well. Here you can install storage racks or additional bins for you to place dry goods and nonperishables in. Without a pantry, you have to get a bit creative.
After the cabinets are fully stocked, you can utilize the walls! One tip that you will frequently find is hanging things and using magnets. Magnets on your fridge or a magnetic board can be very beneficial and can take a lot off of your little counter space. You can also use clothespins, push pins, or tacks to hang things on cork boards.
When you are starting to shop for your RV kitchen supplies, take into consideration that you are going to be on the road, which means anything breakable is a no-go! Ceramics, plastic, and paper are going to be your go-to when it comes to all things in your RV. The last thing that you will want to do when you get to your campsite is to clean out the broken glass from all of your cabinets and on the floor.
Even with ceramics, you are going to want to do what you can to secure everything while the RV is moving. You can utilize non-slip pads everywhere, so your dishes and cups stay in one place. We also highly recommend that you get latches to keep all of your drawers and cupboards closed. If you do not have any latches, you can use bungee cords. And keep anything that you are bringing that could break in bins, stored away in these latched cabinets.
You are officially ready to head out on your next camping trip! These RV kitchen hacks will help you to create more space, utilize the areas that you have, and keep your belongings safe and secure. Bring what you need and remember that you are there to camp and not cook a 5-course meal every night. Enjoy all of the fall camping trips you have planned!