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“A beautiful campground”

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Rafter J Bar Ranch Campground
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
93 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“A beautiful campground”
Reviewed 18 July 2014 via mobile

This is a beautiful setting with lots of open spaces well as several shaded areas for campsites. The store has a nice selection of necessities and gifts. Restroom were clean and showers were warm. The only issue I had was that although I reserved a 30 amp site we were given and charged for a 50 amp site. Despite 3 phone calls we had never received an email confirmation of our reservation; therefore our rate was different that what was shown on website. Others we talked to also had problems with reservations so it seems to be an issue that should be addressed. The views and Ponderosa pine air helped make up for the inconsistencies.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
Thank jeanniehoosier
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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233 reviews from our community

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English first
Opelika, Alabama
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 July 2014

We stayed a week at the Rafter J. We had a great time. We were traveling with family and wanted to all be together, but office staff couldn't or didn't want to work it out. It turned out to be fine. Our site was the best site. It was shaded and we felt that we had privacy. We stayed in Base Camp, so it was a distance from the bathhouse. The bathhouse was just ok. I only showered in it once. There were too many bugs in there the other time that I went to shower. I do feel that more attention could be paid to the bathrooms. My husband said that every time he went to shower that it needed attention. I have definitely had nicer showers.
The staff seemed to be helpful and friendly, but we didn't really have any issues. We had a great camping experience. Campfires every night, kids playing and riding bikes, and the weather was perfect. It is very close to all the major sightseeing spots and great for a base camp for sightseeing. Overall, we had a great stay and would return again.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
Thank Pepper959
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Aurora, Colorado
Level Contributor
39 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 July 2014

We made our reservations 6 months in advance and asked specifically for a site that was heavily treed and had space between the campers. That was far from what we received. Opening our door revealed the sewer pipe and hook-ups for the camper next to us (literally like 10 feet from our door). We felt on top of each other and this is NOT what we requested. The Rafter J has many areas available that would have fit our needs so either the spot they gave us was the only one left or they don't know their campground. Our stay was not short (nearly 2 weeks) and we had hoped for an accommodation.

Our particular site was at such an angle it was impossible to level our camper properly. The first night ended in breaking our trailer jack (the main one) in order to level it so we lost a day in SD by having to drive up to Rapid City to have the trailer fixed. Rafter J DID have tools that we could borrow which helped us to determine what we needed so that was nice (although they wanted a deposit for the use of the tools). Once we adjusted the camper, the only way to get it level would mean we would need to purchase longer hose and piping in order to use the full hook-ups.

In addition, our site was near the sidewalk that takes you the 500 yards to the store and pool. That was nice but people would literally walk through our campsite (through our chairs and over our blankets) to get from the upper ranch camp to the side walk. That was not appropriate at all and sometimes scary when it was dark and someone just popped into your site.

The fire pit was about 25 yards from our camper which made it difficult to thoroughly enjoy.

We talked with their manager Paul about our issues and he offered to leave the site next to us open for part of our stay.

The pool was warm and my kids loved it; however, they do not follow their pool rules so if you are expecting no kids under 12 in the hot tub, don't. Kids are all over it and they don't do anything about it.

The shop has pizza, ice cream, and basic needs. Our favorite was picking up the black cherry soda and when we ran out of camper toilet paper, they had some on hand. The prices were slightly elevated though so run into Hill City if you can.

The Wi-Fi is pretty much non-existent, EVEN while sitting under the transmitter. They have many transmitters out there but none seem to really work or the connections are slow. Their solution is to sit in the shop but it's not really quiet or comfortable.

The bathrooms and showers were definitely average. Clean with hot water.

The laundry facilities were less than average. The dryers were frequently under maintenance (not usable) and the washers are so tiny you have to spend a bunch running more loads.

Speed limits are a joke because even though they want you to follow the limit, their staff don't.

The grounds are well maintained with the exception of the sidewalk that leads to the shop. There is significant dirt on it (up to 4 inches in some areas) due to all the rain they had received.

We received excellent feedback from friends on this campground and we were very excited to be there but it just felt wrong from the beginning and it wasn't the most pleasant stay. If we had been given a site in an area like we requested, it would have been much better. The area is gorgeous and it is close to so many attractions and good restaurants.

Complaining to the manager did nothing and I asked for the owner to call but he never did. I wrote a letter and that initiated a response from him. He called me at nearly 9pm a week after our stay. He said that he knew about our complaints and that the manager had kept him apprised of the situation. He offered 2 nights free (a refund not on a future visit) and stated that they lost money by keeping the site next to us open (which I doubt only because I saw how many sites were empty until the 4th of July weekend).

So, if you want a heavily treed area with space, ask for Ranch Camp. We stayed in Lower Ranch Camp and the sites are on top of each other (not at all like the map they provide). The Island is also heavily treed with space. Base camp is like your typical RV park as is Line Camp. The main camp is heavily treed.

It was nice to hear from the owner and that he offered a real accommodation for that, I give them 3 "stars" otherwise, they would be a 2. After all, we spent nearly $1000 at this place so you think they would give us something.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Service
1 Thank Elizabeth P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sundance, Wyoming
Level Contributor
104 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2014

We stayed here for just one night, but would have loved to have stayed many more. This campground is pristine. There are several camping areas on the ranch, some out in the open, and others, like ours, in a beautifully shaded area, full of tall Ponderosa pine trees. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. The sites are easy to back into. There is enough space between the sites that you feel like you have privacy. It is located very close to many Black Hills attractions. They have a volleyball court, basketball court and a gorgeous pool and hot tub.

The lack of helpfulness of the evening staff was the only drawback. We had questions and we were quickly told to come back to the office the next morning.....they would have the answers. We felt dismissed by the young gal at the desk. Since we weren't spending much time there, it didn't detract very much from our stay. We would go back.

Room Tip: This is not a hotel. When making reservations, get on their website and look at the various camping...
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Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
1 Thank rathbund
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
Reviewed 14 July 2014

Very nice place with lots to do. We've been here for 2 days and are staying for 2 more. Many local attractions to choose from. Only bad thing is that there are many wifi networks that they offer but they do not connect or stay connected.

  • Stayed July 2014
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
Thank TammieWo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brandon, South Dakota
Level Contributor
45 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2014

I stayed for a total of 3 days in a comfort cabin(wife wanted a bathroom) and we were glad we did. Rafter J is a great place for both adults and children. We used the pool several times unfortunately due to the cold weather and wind we were not able to use it long before my children got cold being it is outside. They have a nice convenience store with anything you need trust me we must have visited it at least 6 times! The all you can eat pancakes for breakfast were a hit and for $2.75 who can complain. All in all a great place to visit.

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
1 Thank DJ605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2014 via mobile

This is a great campground, very clean very friendly and spacious lots. We came to this area with our Harleys and stayed in a pull thru spot 270 not a lot of trees here in this area of camp but the spots are huge. Absolute love it here and the views are incredible! !!

Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
1 Thank Cheryl E
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

Property: 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 12 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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