Pack in the RV, We Are Heading to South Dakota

by Cristina | Last Updated: July 8, 2021

When we were first planning THIS crazy camping trip, we needed a starting point. I threw out Mt. Rushmore. Now, I had no idea exactly where Mt. Rushmore was.  I knew what it was, well sort of.  If I’m being very honest, I knew Washington and Lincoln, I could have maybe guessed Jefferson, but I could never tell you the 4th president up there on the mountain.  Turns out it’s Theodore Roosevelt (President # 26), who also happens to be the President who created The Forest Service and dedicated more land than all other Presidents before him combined (times 5) to be National Parks.  So, you’re welcome for making this blog educational.

Custer, South Dakota

Anyway for those of you who are also slightly geographically impaired, Mt. Rushmore is in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We stayed in a town called Custer. Custer stole my heart with it’s charm and beauty.

The plan was “simple”.  We would fly into Rapid City, rent our car and then head to Target or Walmart to get ready for what would surely be an adventure on our new home, the RV.  For a list of our RV must-haves stay tuned, the post is coming.  

Once we finished loading up on the essentials, we were off to our campsite.  It needs to be said, Bobby, through sheer grit and determination was able to book us a spot at Buffalo Ridge Campsite.  Having a good campsite isn’t absolutely essential, but it does a lot for the morale of the group.  By group, I mean me. 

Our Camping Site: 

The Buffalo Ridge: far and away the best campsite I have ever stayed in.  Keep in mind I’ve only stayed in 5 others, so take what I say with the grain of salt it deserves.  

Why did I like it?


Mt. Rushmore: Obviously this is the draw.  It would almost be ridiculous to go to this area and not see Rushmore. I would definitely put it down on your bucket list.  It isn’t this overwhelming experience or out of this world, but there definitely is something special about it.  It has it’s own wonder.  You’re standing in front of an American symbol, and maybe I’m cheesy but there is something about it that left me in awe.  

Crazy Horse Monument: Crazy Horse is an 87 ft monument dedicated to Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing to his tribal land. The project began in 1948, and is considered “unfinished” as the iron of the rock makes it hard to carve. They do not know when the project will be completed, but it is visible from the road and if it is that powerful from miles away, I can’t imagine it up close. We did not get time to hike the area, but were lucky to have it so visible each time we drove by to our campsite.

Visible miles away from the main road

Rock Climbing: In an attempt to shed some of our Miami-ness, we enlisted, Sylvan Rock Climbing to take us all out to a trail and show us how to rock climb. It’s owned by a guy named Jeff, who sidenote the greatest mustache I’ve ever seen, and also a wonderful team. They hooked us up with gear, and took us out to Sylvan Lake where there are plenty of trails (see below). Jeff had the utmost patience as he showed all 9 of us how to competently climb up and propel down a mountain. These guys even had my son doing it, and he was determined not to do it. I would highly recommend them if you are planning to be in the area. It’s an early wake up call, but completely worth it.

Custer State Park: We got to see the Sylvan Lake area when we came rock climbing. The scenery was so beautiful. I mean look at that picture. It’s out of a movie. When we finished our rock climbing session, we saw that the lake had a good crowd with people climbing the rocks and jumping into the water, and others just taking it in. Jeff told us that there is a “Jesus Rock” in the middle of the lake that you can stand on, and it makes it appear like you are walking on water. When we went rock climbing we did a portion of a great hike called Sunday Gulch, and I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to go back and finish. Another hike that was recommended to us was Cathedral Spires.

This lake and its surrounding area are insanely beautiful


The Purple Pie Place: I think it is humanly impossible to pass by this place and not stop.  It’s basically challenging you to come in and try the pie.  Naturally, we did.  Wow! Did we try pie. We tried the chocolate pie, the blueberry pie, the apple pie and the owner’s self proclaimed favorite, “the bumble pie.”  The Bumble Pie is simply all the berries they have in one pie. It’s heaven.  Heaven.  Such a great fun stop. 

Custer Wolf: We were going down Main Street trying to hit as many spots as we could. This place was recommended to us by Jeff, at Sylvan Rocks, so we had to give it a shot. It is run by a local couple, and the vibe is really cool. The food is American fare. The menu is simple and perfect all the way down to the broccoli. We wanted to try as much as we could, so we got the Fried Green Beans, Cowboy Caviar, The Sweet Potato Flatbread, the Falafel Burger and the Bread Pudding.  I would dare say that I had the best bread pudding I have ever had in my life, ever. The owner said, “what do you think this is? a tapas bar?” To which I replied, “anything can be a tapas bar if you try hard enough.” There’s also a secret beer society called the Mug Club that I will never understand how Bobby got himself into, but he did.  So we are likely going back to this place before the year is over for their meeting. Anyone want to come with?

Dakota Broasters Chicken: It’s just a little shack on the side of the road, but we knew right when we saw it, it had to be good. Let me tell you, it was beyond.  They only have fried chicken until it runs out, and once you taste it you will understand why they always do.  They don’t just fry, they pressure cook these bad boys. Even the baked beans were out of this world.  The best part for us was it was minutes from our camping site, and easy to pick up and bring back.  Fried chicken doing God’s work. Check them out HERE.

Bumpin’ Buffalo: We hit Bumpin’ Buffalo in Hill City, since we were in the area after rock climbing. We wanted check out a different town and see what they had going on.  There is a real deal grandmother in the kitchen cooking up her specialties, and you could taste it.  The food was delicious and the place gave a very authentic down to earth feel.  I would say of everything we ordered the Road Hog and the Bumpin Grind were the real winners. Would definitely recommend.  We had originally wanted to try, Desperados because we were blown away by all those reviews.  Just another option  


The Saloon: we made it to this little Saloon and had a couple of drinks.  It had such a cool vibe on the inside.  The wood paneling, the deer and moose heads all over, and the nicest bartender back there making us cocktails.  There were other saloons like this down the strip, but something about this one called us in.  Had a great outdoor space in the back.  

The Custer Beacon: This was my favorite place of all.  It was started by two local brothers.  One brother has background in music, and the other an architect. They have combined forces to create this local gem.  I wish Miami had something like this. We were only told about it after Bobby made the Mug Club so you know this place is legit.  It is a reconstructed warehouse space.  They built out a beautiful stage with unbelievable sound. It is surrounded by couches and other areas for people to just come, hang and listen to a live show.  There are a couple of pool tables and a full bar.  Really nicely done. Such a cool spot to end the night.