RV Reservations 2021: How to Find a Place to Camp in South Dakota?

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RV Reservations full campground

I am FREAKING OUT. Again. About RV Reservations.

About finding places to park and camp in an RV this summer.

We’ve been “circling the harbor” here in the Bellingham/Blaine, WA area for eight weeks, getting everything and everybody settled. Two weeks to go. From today. We are heading out on our Big Adventure across country: living, working, and traveling full-time in our 40′ Class A Motorhome, Charlie The Unicorn. (I promise I will explain the name, eventually!)

We’re ready… right?

I made all the reservations for May, June & July back in early April, following the RV reservations checklist:

  • 60-day advance reservations
  • Early in the season
  • Holidays at our “home park”

No problems at all. The campgrounds have had plenty of space available, even over Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and 4th of July.

Until this week: July 10th — where did all these RVs come from?!

By Friday night, this place — Birch Bay Thousand Trails — was FULL to bursting, with nearly all of the 299 spaces full.

Fortunately, we arrived Tuesday, so we didn’t have any trouble finding a campsite big enough for Charlie & Starfish (the Jeep), with all the hook-ups (50 amp power, sewer & water). We’re set until we leave Tuesday after work.

I have our next five (5) weeks reserved:

  • 2 weeks back at the home park
  • 1 week in Spokane, WA
  • 2 weeks in Montana

And then… August 15th

No room at the campground?! At any campground in South Dakota, in our membership programs, or anywhere else! (Granted, I should have been making these reservations back in June, but I wasn’t sure where & when we were going… whoopsie.)

South Dakota is one of the most popular places for camping and family adventure during the summer, with proximity to so many cool national parks and monuments:

  • Devil’s Tower
  • The Badlands
  • Mount Rushmore

I had already planned to steer clear around the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: August 5 – August 14, 2021.

Re-visiting South Dakota

When we came through South Dakota last year, on our first trip on our way home with Charlie, it was early October, during the height of the pandemic. Everything was deserted. Campgrounds were open, even if a lot of the amenities were still closed due to Covid precautions and restrictions.

It was the end of the season, with everything beginning to shut down behind us. But we didn’t have any problem finding places to stay.

It was beautiful, and peaceful. We were on our own.

RV in South Dakota

We didn’t have our “toad” (tow vehicle) on that first trip, so we couldn’t get out much off the main roads to explore, except when we got lost. That was super scary in Deadwood, SD. We were really looking forward to getting back this year, towing our little Jeep, so we could go see all the things.

Unfortunately, August in South Dakota is a very different situation.

Especially this year, with the post-pandemic SURGE in RV & camping enthusiasm. 

So I wasn’t able to make the reservations. I can’t find any campgrounds in South Dakota that aren’t all booked up, even with our Sunday – Friday strategy to avoid the Weekend Warrior circuit. Apparently, travelers in August in South Dakota are way more serious than that, on Summer Vacation schedules until after Labor Day.

Of course, I initially PANIC — what are we going to do???

  • Where are we going to park this thing?!
  • How are we going to get to Florida by the end of September?
  • How do we DO THIS full-time?!?!

I don’t know.
We’ll figure it out.

We’ll either find another way to search something out where we want to go, or we’ll head in a different direction, where the Summer Vacation crowd isn’t. Less popular places. We can always come back around later in the summer, after Labor Day. Next year.

But what about bad weather?
And wild fires? ?

Stay tuned…

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Russ & Sherri

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Welcome to RV Work Life Balance, the Full-time RV Travel Blog & Podcast.  We’re Russ & Sherri, your RV Work Life Balance travel hosts. We’re glad you’re here!

We are living, working & traveling the U.S. full-time in our 2016 Entegra Aspire 40′ Class A Motorhome named Charlie The Unicorn. Join us on our GenX Post-pandemic Adventure!

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