In this edition of our campground review series we will be reviewing Sunrise Ridge Campground located in Hot Springs, SD.
Sunrise Ridge Campground is located off of highway 385 just outside of the historic town of Hot Springs. We booked a one month stay in the month of July 2023 and chose this location because we needed to be within driving distance of Rapid City. We prefer a quiet small town over being in a city. And quite honestly there’s not much to choose from that are decent and have a reasonable price in South Dakota.
There are two things to note of you plan on staying here. First, if you are coming in through town there was a ton of road construction. We mention this because it also didn’t seem like there was any hurry to get it completed. Over three weeks time we never saw anyone working. So it could be awhile.
Because of this large RV’s must make a detour, but in our opinion ALL RV’s should detour around the downtown area. The road is very narrow due to construction equipment and just being a small town. Additionally, it’s just a disaster of a road and will make a mess of your RV and possibly do some damage.
Kudos to the campground as they were great and preemptively sent us a map of the detour well before our arrival. Luckily for us, we came from the other direction.
Second, if you are coming from the northwest down 385 as we did your GPS might not give you good directions. This is because the highway goes through Windcave National Park. As such the GPS might tell you to turn onto a side road in order to get to Windcave Road. Don’t do that! Just stay on 385 all the way at it is Windcave Road and the campground will be easy to find.
Our GPS had us turn off the highway and down that back road. We didn’t know it at the time, but that road leads to different campground, picnic area and eventually up to the National Park Visitors Center. Further complicating the situation is that there is no cell service. Because of this we lost the ability to check our GPS against maps to see where we were heading.
Driving a 40′ class A with a vehicle in tow down a narrow back road was not a great feeling. Thankfully we were able to use a large turnaround at the picnic area to get ourselves back out to the highway.
Sunrise Ridge Campground is a no frills kind of place. They have a very nice bathroom and shower facility and that’s about it for amenities. Much like Montana, people don’t camp in South Dakota for campground amenities so this is what we expected. There are a lot of better things to do all around the area.
The campground has a mix of pull-thru and back-in sites all of which are equipped with full hook-ups. All of the interior roads and sites are gavel. We booked a pull-thru site and while it was nice and long it was hard for us to find a place to get level. We noticed when others arrived they had similar problems so it wasn’t just our site. Everyone seemed to do the dance of moving forward and backwards in the spot to find a decent place to get level.
Most of the sites have pretty good spacing, especially the back-in’s. For some reason the site next to ours was angled which put the front end of our neighbors RV close when they had the slides out. It wasn’t uncomfortably close, but sometimes it felt like they were at our door when they walked by. It didn’t bother us, but it might be something to ask about when making a reservation.
In addition to the RV sites they offer cabins, tent camping with water and electric and a primitive camping area.
The common areas at Sunrise Ridge Campground are different than you would get at other places. Sure they have a nice bath and shower house, an off leash dog park and an ok wi-fi network. But, this is not just a campground. One of the reasons we were excited about staying here is because it’s also a working ranch!
As it turns out, the owners of the property are amazing people and very generous with their time as well as their property. The best part of the campground was being able to interact with the animals and take rides out to the pasture to feed the cows. That was a first for us at any campground and we loved every minute of it.
Aside from being able to see the animals the owners also permit guests to use their road as a walking trail until the end of their property. They will say it’s only 1 mile each way, but the road goes up into the hills and it’s quite the workout. We walked it several times and you don’t realize the elevation change until you stop and look back.
One other great part of our experience here was the community fire pit. The owners provide everything you need at no cost. There were a few nights where someone would lite it up and other guests would come and join in. It was a great way to meet people, share stories and it cost the guests nothing! Kudos to the campground for creating that space and experience for their guests!
Being a small no frills family campground cleanliness is of the upmost importance. The owners have a lot on their plate with the ranch and the campground. Yet they manage to really take good care of the property and their customers.
At no time did we ever have an issue or observe anything that would constitute a problem. The owners are very visible on a daily basis keeping everything tidy and they always interact with their guests.
Sunrise Ridge Campground was exactly what we had hoped for when we booked it. We had a great site in a great location and got the added benefit of the ranch, animals and more.
From the moment we arrived the owners went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. In fact, while I was setting up our site Mrs. RVF hopped on the UTV with the owner and went out to help feed the cows. Talk about a first impression!
Additionally, they geserousouly gave out fresh vegetables right from their garden to guests. Again at no cost! That was another first for us. This type of old school country generosity is missing from most campgrounds today. Most places feel like it’s all about the money. At Sunrise Ridge Campground it feels like it’s all about the people and we need more of that.
In the interest of full discloser we did end up leaving early from the campground. As everyone knows the weather in South Dakota only knows extremes. In our case it was severe thunderstorms and hail pounding us day in and day out. Obviously people can’t control the weather, but the location is prime for these types of storms. After 3 weeks of worrying about our RV and Jeep getting damaged we felt it was better for us to move on to safer pastures.
This is not a something to be taken as a negative to the campground. We just want people to be informed and take all of the variables into consideration.
The cost to stay at Sunrise Ridge Campground is about average when compared to most places. For a no frills type of campground we would normally say it’s on the expensive side of the ledger for the monthly rate. But, the great people and location proximity to National Parks made it well worth the price
Our rate for the month was $840 which included electric. The daily rate for the campground is about $43 per night. This is actually much cheaper than most places that we looked at in South Dakota although it did require us to drive a little more.
Weather aside, Sunrise Ridge Campground has been one of our favorite stops. The campground is great, the surrounding hills are beautiful, the town is classic and you would be hard pressed to find better people running a campground.
The proximity to places like Windcave National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave National Monument and even Badlands National Park make it an ideal location. If you need to go into the city it’s just an hour drive to Rapid City. To make that trip even better we suggest taking the road through the Black Hills on your return as it’s just a gorgeous drive.
If you want to stay close to home you can check out the town, do some fishing just across the highway at the reservoir or just lounge outside and enjoy the views. There are an endless number of activities close by for people who love to get outdoors.
Yeah, the campground is close to a lot of National Parks, National Monuments and awesome places like Deadwood and Sturgis. But, how often are you able to purchase farm fresh eggs at your campsite? Well at Sunrise Ridge you can just that. Here’s how it works; they keep a list of people who want eggs in the office. Just add your name to the list. As the hens lay the eggs they get packaged and the next person up on the list gets first crack. (See what we did there?) It’s just $4 and there is a reason why they have a wait list so get on it fast.
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