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“A top notch campground with lots of amenities, just not very friendly.”

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Rafter J Bar Ranch Campground
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 June 2013 via mobile

This campground was a good location as a home base for Mt Rushmore. Convenient but quiet, and the campsites are a decent size. The kids enjoyed the nice pool and playground. I loved our campsite's proximity to the clean bath house and uncrowded laundry room ($3.50 per wash-be warned!). The store had everything we needed grocery-wise with a nice little camper supply section. The check in process is very efficient, but the staff is not friendly or even talkative in any way, though quick to list the rules upon arrival. At this point we are accustomed to very friendly employees at the campgrounds. This was our one exception. However, overall this was one of our best camping experiences.

  • Stayed: June 2013
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
4  Thank Swiftpack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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183 - 189 of 256 reviews

Reviewed 11 June 2013

This is my second time to camp at Rafter J Bar Ranch. I really like this campground. The staff is friendly. Bathrooms are clean. Beautiful scenery surrounds you. I love to sit outside and just look at all the hills and trees around me. Nice pool and hot tub. My only complaint is that every time I wanted to use the hot tub there were small children using it as a kiddie pool. We had 2 dogs with us and they have several pet stations with trash cans and doggie pick up bags provided. I really appreciate that. They have a nice camp store and snack shop. We had their hand dipped ice cream every day! A nice size cup is $1.95. The first day I thought it was for 1 scoop. I was very surprised that it was several scoops in a cup. Bike trail is just outside of the campground which is fun to bike or hike on.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank rvforever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2013

Beautiful setting with grassy meadow and surrounding Black Mts. Easy access to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, direct bike trail access, Hill City railroad. RV sites are nicely spaced with lots of mixed tree and open areas. We have a great view from site 151. Pool, hot tub, playground, very clean bathhouse, hot showers. Highly recommend this place for your stay in the area.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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2  Thank Travelingwith4kids
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2013

Wonderful RV Park. Roomy sites, fire ring, quiet. Watch wildlife each night. We had site 237, which has an open meadow area beside it. Would stay there again, only longer next time. Great place and I am extremely picky on RV Parks.

  • Stayed: May 2013
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
2  Thank SouthernSR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2013

We camped with our RV at Rafter J Bar Campground for 3 nights during Memorial Day.
We finally made the right choices near Mount Rushmore. This was our third trip to the area and the best. What we did right: 1. Stayed near Hill City, in the past we stayed in Rapid City--too far and not as much fun. 2. The Rafter J Bar is beautiful, clean and the sites are separated by many trees. It was quiet with a beautiful pool area. 3. Breakfast on site for $2.50 for pancakes was delicious and the husband and wife running it made it feel like you came to grandma and grandpa's house. Excellent. The evening lighting of Mount Rushmore and the lazer show on Chief Joseph were favorites. 4. Winery tours were amazing...Red [--] Winery and Naked Winery were fun. Don't miss.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank montcruiser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2013

Campsites have lots of space and trees. The pool and hot tub are is nice. So nice to find a campground that lets you enjoy nature and is not a parking lot. The bath houses were clean and the staff very friendly. It is very close to all the attractions. Also they have a nice playground for the kids. We have a 35 ft travel trailer and were able to maneuver just fine in the upper ranch camp (I think the nicest area for nature lovers who still want a bath house). They do have cabins as well but we did not see them.

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank zazukitty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 February 2013

Overall our four household/family vacation was amazing. The weather was great, the scenery was majestic and relaxing. The cabins were really great. My few complaints are listed here:

1. The biggest complaint is that there is no recycling. This is a big mistake. They have more than enough space for recycling dumpsters, and what an immense amount of trash they could eliminate. ON THE OTHER HAND, there is almost zero litter at this camp. The maintenance staff was really on the ball, and they even have the foresight to hose down the gravel roads and trails when it was super dry in late June/early July.

2. The 'wifi' was never available. They need to update their system to accommodate the amount of campers, or they need to stop advertising this 'feature'.

3. The toilet paper in the cabins was not pleasant. It was very rough and fell apart-I mean I know its camping, but with the level of amenities available-I would think they carried toilet paper that was at least on par with a truck stop.

4. Make sure you bring power strip, preferably a long one. There is only one outlet (two if you unplug your microwave and plug it into the power strip instead.

5. The 'breakfast' was not good. Not at all. The 'all you can eat" pancakes were so heavy and dense and gluey inside. We had planned our meals and planned to eat the breakfast there every day. After one day, we drove into town for cereal and fruit. I don't know how someone could eat more than one serving of those pancakes. The biscuits and gravy were also subpar. We did not eat other menu items. I would say plan on bringing your own food.

6. The pool needs more tables/chairs, and shade umbrellas.


These are minor issues, really. There were so many things we loved about the campground:

1. We were SO happy that we brought bikes. Our kids (ages 12, 9, 8, and three 5 year olds) LOVED riding bikes around the campgrounds, and also on the trail. I noticed a lot of campers had bikes tied to the back-This was our first trip to the Black Hills-it was great for bike fun. There are bikes for rent at the campground-but with first come first serve, we didn't want to risk it, and it was well worth it for the kids (and a few of the adults) to bring ours.

2. The kids loved the arcade.

3. The scenery is truly beautiful and was like the best mood relaxer for the adults.

4. The set up of the camp was great for us-we had three cabins and one RV spot-We were all in a line-the cabins closest to the highway-and we were all happy to be so centrally located in the camp. It was a very short walk to the laundry/ arcade/pool/store.

5.The Black Hills were the stunning, and the closeness to Crazy Horse was wonderful. Other activities our family enjoyed were biking part of the Mickelson Trail, riding the 1880's train, Mt rushmore alpine slides, chuckwagon dinner and show, renting a boat at Pactola Lake, and lots of campfires, cards and boardgames at camp.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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5  Thank piercedcanvas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Rafter J Bar Ranch Campground

Address: 12325 Rafter J-Bar Road, Hill City, SD 57745
Region: United States > South Dakota > Hill City
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 13 Speciality Lodging in Hill City
Number of rooms: 227
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An upscale campground offering tent and trailer camping. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rafter j Bar Ranch Campground Hotel Keystone

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