Fall in the Black Hills

Now that Summer is over and school is back in session, we want to invite you to stay with us at Holy Smoke Resort this September and October! 

Mount Rushmore National Monument in FallAfter the Labor Day weekend and before the holiday season is our favorite time of year in the Black Hills. We want more vacationers to know why they should come experience western South Dakota and the Black Hills during the Fall. The majority of travelers come during the Summer months, meaning this is prime time for families, couples, and individuals looking for a low-key, more affordable vacation to experience our part of the country.

Three quick reasons why this time of year is the best time to rent a cabin or bring your RV for a Black Hills vacation:

  • The Fall colors are starting to show, meaning gorgeous views of our terrain.
  • The heat of summer has subsided, but there’s still plenty of sunshine and warm weather to experience the great outdoors!
  • Popular attractions and the national parks near us are still open.

Annual Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park, South DakotaTo help you plan your stay, we’ve highlighted our favorite Fall events and traditions (like the Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival) so our campers can get the most out of their experience here. Meanwhile, any outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the hiking and mountain biking trail availability, and this time of year is especially popular among hunters. 

For travelers only able to stay with us over the weekend, check out our suggested 2-day itinerary! You’ll hit all the “must-sees” and get the experience of a local with our Keystone, South Dakota recommendations.

Cabins, vacation rentals, and RV spots are available until mid-October. 

Be sure to give us a call if you have any questions. Let us know when you plan on staying and some information on what you would like to do and we’ll be happy to help you book your reservation, let you know if your desired attractions will be open during your stay, and give you any other helpful insight as you plan your vacation! 

Outdoor Adventures in the Black Hills

Here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we pride ourselves on the abundance of outdoor experiences – not just for the locals, but for the travelers who come visit!

Most of our favorites are right next to Keystone – right next to Holy Smoke Resort.

Aside from the obvious, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, the Rushmore Tramway Adventures, the Rush Mountain Adventure Park, Big Thunder Gold Mine, and 1880 Train are just a few we want to shout out.

But our area has everything from hiking, cruises, mountain biking, paddlesports, and rockclimbing – plenty to do while you’re here exploring the area!

Hikers will enjoy Black Elk Peak – previously Harney Peak – a natural, historical, and cultural gem to our Black Hills Area. The trail ends at the fire lookout tower, which is only accessible by a hiking trail (just under 4 miles). You’ll start out near Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. We would say the trail is moderately difficult, but because of its significance and popularity, the trail is heavily traveled. 

TIP: Many mountain bikers also enjoy the same trails as hikers, so be sure to take out the ear buds and watch out for your fellow adventurers!

Bikers (motorcycles) will appreciate Iron Mountain Road, one of the most scenic areas of our great country. The turns are fun and the views are truly spectacular, unlike any you’ve ever seen! We promise you’ll have a great time.

For bikers here for the Sturgis Rally, we recommend being exceptionally cautious as some of the turns do not give you a direct line of sight for oncoming traffic. We would recommend arriving a few days before the Rally or extending your stay to a few days after for increased safety precautions.

Mountain bikers, shouldn’t feel left out either! The Black Hills offer many different trail experiences at a variety of difficulty levels, so there’s something for everyone.

The Centennial Trail (also open for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding), George S. Mickelson Trail (also open year-round for our off-season guests) and Storm Mountain Trail (another popular hiking trail) are our top three picks – but there are several others to enjoy on our side of the state as well.

If you’re more interested in water activities, our lakes and reservoirs offer the opportunity to beat the heat by boating, kayaking, and canoeing! If you don’t have a way to bring your own equipment, families and travelers have the ability to rent from a majority of local businesses.

For the brave, you can also rockclimb in Custer State Park, at Devil’s Tower National Monument, Falling Rock, Spearfish Canyon, and more! We recommend you are an experienced climber and have a spotter or a group with you for this specific activity. We want everyone to stay safe and have an enjoyable vacation! If you’re a beginner or traveling solo, you should look into Sylvan Rocks, a climbing school and guide service and only 24 miles from us!

TIP: We suggest anyone venturing out for the day to bring some snacks, sunscreen, and a few bottles of water with you. If you’ve forgotten any these necessities, we have some available at the office or if you’re looking for a place to eat, we can recommend restaurants based on where you’ll be spending your day!

Ready to book your stay? Give us a call or find your cabin or RV site on our website.

Cabin Camping at Holy Smoke Resort in the Black Hills at Keystone South Dakota

Summer Camping in the Black Hills

Cabins 22 and 23 at Holy Smoke Resort Keystone, SD, Mt Rushmore, lodging, black hills

Cabins, vacation homes, and RVs… oh my!

What is your preferred way to camp during the summer?

Cabin camping lets you and your family be in the great outdoors, while keeping their preferences for a comfortable vacation experience. Being one with nature doesn’t mean you have to undergo the discomforts and inconveniences that traditional tent camping comes with. In fact, cabin camping offers a long list of perks and some cabins are complete comfort for families traveling during the summer and is a popular option for many of our guests!

Cabin camping means…

A structurally sound place to stay with the comforts of home, but away from home.

Most cabins come with amenities and utilities that offer you the same flexibility and comfort of home, without bringing everything and the kitchen sink. For example, each of our cabins are equipped with modern facilities – air conditioning, satellite TV, wifi, fully furnished (all queen size beds!), and are complete with a full kitchen!

The full kitchen ensures a way to cook meals without worrying about a possible burn ban or hauling coolers and cook-top options with you during your stay. This is incredibly appealing to our travelers who are trying to pack light and have planned to travel across the midwest and have several other stops planned.

That’s not even addressing the lovely indoor plumbing and electricity.

Multi-generational families will see the benefit as well since sleeping arrangement for infants, young children, and grandparents are more comfortable than an air mattress (or the ground).

Something our travelers should know, is the Black Hills are also no stranger to thunderstorms or hail weather during the summer. This means a cabin would provide adequate and safe shelter during the night! (PS – bikers coming for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally should take the appropriate measures for the weather too!)

Little to no consuming campsite setup – which more time for fun!

Tent camping requires a lot of setup (and equipment!) to bring and cuts into valuable family bonding time. Especially for larger families when tent camping could also mean multiple tents! Whereas a cabin offers more comfortable sleeping arrangements without the extra packing (and unpacking).

Instead, your time can be spent enjoying the beauty of the Black Hills in South Dakota – and if you’re only here for a few days, we’ve built an ideal two-day itinerary as a suggestion for how to spend your time here! Of course, if you’re here longer or have other interests, you can always let us know more about your trip and we would be happy to help you plan so you get the most out of your experience.

Enjoy the Black Hills while staying IN the Black Hills!

Camping is about enjoying the great outdoors, being one with nature, having adventures, and creating memories. Cabin camping provides a great balance between hotels (often located in more populated areas, away from nature, and/or in a city) and RV or tent camping.

For families looking for a place in the Black Hills or in the Keystone or Hill City area, you’ll wake up to the smells of pine, a breathtaking view, and a tranquil setting with our cabins!

Still unconvinced about cabin camping? Holy Smoke Resort also hosts 21 spacious, shaded RV sites and our RV park is open mid-April through mid-October! In addition, our vacation homes available for visitors to the Black Hills are great for larger parties or multi-family vacations looking to bunk together.

RV Family Vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Why RV Camping is Perfect for Families

RV Family Vacation in the Black Hills of South DakotaAs we enter the end of the year and the holiday season, more and more families are buying experiences for their children over traditional gifts. And we encourage you to look at everything South Dakota has to offer!

RV camping isn’t new – and it’s seen a huge increase over the last few years. Some people are even choosing to uproot by selling their house and living in an RV full time!

As one of the best RV and cabin campgrounds in the Black Hills, we are here to tell you why an RV camping trip is a perfect plan for your family’s vacation next year.

It’s affordable.

The cost of a family vacation has increased, partially due to the pandemic and partially due to normal economic conditions. It’s easy to see how friends and family are saving money by traveling together and if you are not interested in purchasing an RV, you can also rent!

All of our RV sites are pull-thru sites, with 30/50 amp service, full hook ups, water and sewer, and are considerably less expensive than multiple hotel rooms (only $50 per night for two people and each additional person is only $2.50!)

Comfort and Convenience

RV travel offers more comfort and convenience (especially for multi-generational travelers) because many RVs are really homes on wheels. There’s more space in an RV, access to electricity, it’s easier to cook, and larger models also provide other features like bathrooms and full-sized refrigerators. Both are options families with younger children find a huge help for those potty training or who request frequent stops for snacking.

The variety of RVs mean you are able to find the best one that is going to fit your travel needs. From a small pop-up pulled by your vehicle and larger RVs give more room to enjoy during your travels.

Also, if weather changes – and we do get rain! – you have peace of mind knowing you’ll always have shelter.

Bring the dog!

There’s no need for pricey kennels for your dog or the need to ask a friend to watch fido. Bring them with you!

Many RV parks are pet/dog friendly – including ours.

We have an on-site dog run, dogs must be supervised by their owners at all times, and even allow dogs in designated cabins. If you’re bringing your fur-baby, be sure to let us know and ask any questions you have about our pet policy.

Outdoor Adventure

The Black Hills of South Dakota is an attractive vacation for families and friends who love the great outdoors – and with an RV the drive here is part of the vacation experience!

You’ll create wow-moments with the family as you enjoy our unique part of the country.

Keep in mind there are a few attractions that have RV limitations or restrictions – like Mount Rushmore – so feel free to give our office a call and we will be happy to help you with your vacation planning!

Winter in the Black Hills of South Dakota near the RV park and cabin rental at Holy Smoke Resort in Keystone

Holidays in the Black Hills

The holiday season is a spectacular sight in the Black Hills of South Dakota!

Winter in the Black Hills of South Dakota near the RV park and cabin rental at Holy Smoke Resort in KeystoneWhile we close for the season by mid-October, we still recommend Keystone and the Black Hills for your winter stay. 

South Dakotans are known for the hometown hospitality and the Holy Smoke Resort staff is no different. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, we make it a point to treat each one of our guests like family (the good and the bad, haha). It only makes sense that we would continue to look out for our family and friends by recommending some incredible options for how you and your loved ones can enjoy the area, should you find yourself in Keystone during the holiday season!

Many of the annual holiday events that take place in the Black Hills have become long standing family traditions; for visitors and the locals. With a wide variety of festivities happening, there is easily something for everyone. 

Families with young children will want to check out The Holiday Express – 1880 Train for a traditional Christmas story, hot cocoa, and cookies baked by Mrs. Claus! Then, make sure to make a swing into Storybook Island for their Christmas Nights of Lights celebration and see favorite storybook characters and statues decorated for the holidays.

Young adults and couples will enjoy the festivities at Rapid City’s Main Street Square, including ice skating, the Winter Market (which features local vendors), and the close proximity to great restaurants and nightlife. If you’re looking for live entertainment or a historical experience, check out the events in Historic Deadwood to fill your travel itinerary!

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the snowmobiling and snowshoeing opportunities, skiing and snowboarding, and hiking trails that allow for breathtaking views. This part of the country with a light dusting of snow is truly magical. You must come see it for yourself!

If you find yourself in western South Dakota during the holidays, be sure to check out some of the favorites we’ve shared with you! If you go to any of them, let us know about your holiday experience. You can share photos and stories with us on our Facebook page, and tell us know which ones were your favorite.

Will we see you next season? You can make your RV site, cabin, or vacation home rental reservation anytime throughout the year! Just give us a call and let us know when you’ll be staying.

Until then, stay warm!

RVs parked at Holy Smoke Resort in the Black Hills of South Dakota with full hook ups

Holy Smoke Resort is for RV Travelers!

RVs parked at Holy Smoke Resort in the Black Hills of South Dakota with full hook upsLet’s get to the nitty gritty. 

Here are a few of the technical reasons why we are the best place to park it for the night (or the weekend… or the week!) in the Black Hills.

  • With easy access just off Highway 16A, our affordable RV parking allows you to enjoy your stay in the Black Hills of South Dakota in comfort and seclusion. Perfect for those who are looking for a quiet, natural setting to rest your head.
  • Each of our 21 RV sites are pull through sites and range from 65’ to 78’ long with 30 and 50 AMP service – one of the few RV parks in western South Dakota that is able to accommodate the newest and larger RVs.
  • Holy Smoke Resort features full hook ups, water and sewer, satellite TV (let us know you want a rooftop sat friendly site!), and free wifi throughout the campground.
  • We are dog friendly! A designated dog run is available to give your pup a safe place to burn off energy when a walk just isn’t enough. Supervision of your furry friend is required.

Over the last two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in RV travelers. RVing has become a popular lifestyle and an affordable way for families to travel, create memories, and experience the United States. Most RVers enjoy the great outdoors – something the Black Hills of South Dakota is greatly known for. You’ll see wildlife on the property. Deer, fox, and wild turkey are the most common to hang around the area, but we have seen elk and mountain goats in the past. Hiking trails, mountain biking, and watersports (like paddleboarding or kayaking) are only a few of the reasons why our area is so popular among outdoor enthusiasts. Not to mention geocaching and scenic drives.

At Holy Smoke Resort we make it easy for RV and camper travelers to find a great place to stay during their family vacation, retirement getaway, or couples to retreat that is quiet and scenic, but still having easy access to amenities you need while away from home. We welcome every new RVer to our site and we promise you will be treated like family! Ask any questions you have about the area and the RV park when making your reservation and during your stay and we would be delighted to help you create the perfect vacation.

We know so much about RV travelers because South Dakota has a long-standing reputation among the RV community for being one of the most friendly and welcoming states in the country for RV travelers. And we do our very best to help uphold that repuation! With breathtaking scenic views and historical sites to see, Holy Smoke Resort outside of Keystone, South Dakota provides incredibly easy access to all the must-sees of South Dakota.

National Monuments and Parks

Favorite Family Attractions

Please, let us know how we can make your RV trip more enjoyable and your time in the Black Hills unforgettable.

Not an RVer, but still want to stay at Holy Smoke? We also have cabin rentals and vacation homes available.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - Main Street Sturgis, South Dakota

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - Main Street Sturgis, South DakotaThe Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (also known as Sturgis Bike Week, Sturgis Bike Rally, etc.) is hands down one of the most notorious motorcycle rallies in the United States. South Dakota locals will be able to tell you it’s one of the largest events within the state and west river South Dakota sees hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts (on average around 500,000 people, with the high being over 700,000) from all over the country come to the Black Hills area over the course of ten days!

The Sturgis Rally started in 1938 by a group of Indian Motorcycle riders and initially began for stunts and races! Since then, The Rally has grown into the largest gathering of bikers in the United States; an event filled with vendors, concerts, parties, and introducing riders to the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Beginning the full first week of August every year, we look forward to our returning regulars and welcome newbies to the area.

Most bikers attending will drive campers, RVs, and trucks while towing a motorcycle trailer, then riding their bikes to and from Sturgis during the week; especially those traveling thousands of miles to South Dakota. Many visitors come to our area for more than just the motorcycle rally. Several opt to come before or stay after the Rally ends to enjoy Keystone and the surrounding Black Hills area’s family attractions, national parks, and outdoor activities – meaning that a camper, an RV, or an additional vehicle is a must-have during their vacation!

Black Hills Motorcycle Rides Map - 2021 Sturgis Rally editionBeing located in Keystone, South Dakota, Holy Smoke Resort is a prime spot to stay for these visitors. Our RV park offers 65 feet to 78 feet long pull-through sites, 50 amp service, full hook ups, water and sewer, free wifi, and electricity. Our cabins are equipped with modern facilities, are fully furnished, and have air conditioning. The best part is we are centrally located to everything you could want to see and do during your trip here in the Black Hills; including a gorgeous motorcycle route to Sturgis.

For our bikers, Black Hills Area Maps have been created to show various rides throughout the area along with an accompanying key to help you match your desired ride with your current skill level.

One of the favorite rides among intermediate riders includes Iron Mountain Road, which starts with Highway 16A – exactly where Holy Smoke is located! The route will take you through fun curves through the Black Hills and connects you to Highway 385, taking you into the historical towns of Lead and Deadwood, then finally through Boulder Canyon right into Sturgis.

Do you have time for a detour? More advanced riders enjoy the challenge of the Needles Highway. While on Highway 16A, you can venture West onto S. Playhouse Rd. which will have you on the second best scenic road in the Black Hills to ride – the Needles Highway. This route incorporates the natural beauty of western South Dakota, while the curves, dips, and inclines will upon your skill and savvy as a motorcyclist. After The Needles, you’ll be back to Highway 385 and you’re headed on the way to Lead and Deadwood.

Another popular question we receive is how to see Mount Rushmore! To ride through scenic views of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial, head South from Holy Smoke Resort toward Highway 244 which will lead you straight to the mountain of Presidents. Continuing West on Highway 244 will lead you to Highway 385, and you’ll be rewarded with the view of Crazy Horse Memorial. Staying on this road will land you right into the quaint town of Custer. Should you choose to venture through Custer State Park, we caution our motorcycle visitors… the buffalo are not a fan of the loud pipes! From Custer, you’ll be able to choose from several other ride options within the Black Hills area.

During the Rally, guided and group rides are also organized if you’re interested in meeting new people or don’t feel like riding solo the entire time.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an event we look forward to every year. The returning faces of past guests is always a treat and we love to hear what they’ve been up to over the past year. New riders, couples, and families find us and it’s a pleasure to meet new faces.

Holy Smoke Camp, Keystone South Dakota in 1911

The History of Holy Smoke Camp (Resort) in Keystone South Dakota

The Black Hills of South Dakota is rich with history.

From the Mount Rushmore National Monument, Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Paha Sapa – more commonly known as the Black Hills – there is our country’s history around every evergreen tree and our property, Holy Smoke Resort formerly Holy Smoke Camp, is no different.

It was 1874 when gold was discovered in the Black Hills and since then, our lovely area has been in continuous connection with some of the United State’s greatest known achievements in systematic gold mining.

Holy Smoke Camp, Keystone South Dakota in 1911Back in the day, The Golden Return Mining Company owned the Holy Smoke Camp and consisted of approximately 100 acres of land, right in the motherload of the Black Hills belt, where a number of buildings necessary for the operation of a gold mine were built. Whim houses, the superintendent’s home, the camp (aka miner’s quarters), a boarding house, a dynamite house, a blacksmith shop, stables – accommodating 24 horses, and numerous other buildings were constructed.

Gold bearing ores found on the property were free milling and refractory with the ledges on veins being all true fissures, increasing in width and richness as depth was attained. Free milling ores were treated by the ordinary stamp mill and amalgamating process while the refractory ores were treated by smelting.

Predominant historical figures are traced back to Holy Smoke Resort, Keystone, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. However, the most significant would be Colonel James A. “Big Hat” Clark.

Big Hat Clark was one of the most important mining men in the Black Hills during the 1900s. Today, because little history of early day Keystone has been saved, he has all but been forgotten. Clark came to Keystone in 1895 as a mining man, prospector, locator, and promoter for the Golden Return Mines. He gained the reputations as THE leading mine expert of the Black Hills and of America. He covered the entire west, from Mexico to Alaska, to prospect and report on the likelihood of a paying gold mine investment. Then, in 1904, he reached the pinnacle of his career here at Holy Smoke.

At the time, he managed the largest group of mines under one pan in Pennington County; nearly 3,700 acres of land! The largest portion lay west and northwest of Keystone, extending from Copper Mountain near Sheridan, to Harney City with one large section laying southwest of Keystone on Little Squaw Creek. The land encompassed everything near Keystone, covering a wide strip of the most valuable mineral section of the country.

However, as the years passed a lack of new gold left Clark struggling to raise funds for the mines. The struggle for investors reached its peak when Clark found himself stranded in Michigan. After explaining the situation to his good friend, John Boland, a box was set up in the store and all of Clark’s friends raised the needed money for him to come home; sacrificing what they could, as they were not people of means themselves. The poor miners had sold their violins, music boxes, and everything they could do without to get Clark back to Keystone. Boland would write down every item given and Clark saw they received as much of their money back as he was able to raise.

“He is truly one of our own and Keystone takes care of its own,” the people would say.

Unfortunately, Clark would soon sell the remaining horses in the stable and everything Clark could spare from his home was sold to pay bills. As Clark became older, he moved from the area to live with his only child.

Keystone will never forget this man and the promoter who added so much color to their lives.