The Adventures of Betty, Roxie, and The Rockwood: Rafter J Bar Ranch

Rafter J Bar Ranch

Hill City, South Dakota

Dates of Stay: June 6-9, 2017.

We received a Good Sam Discount during our stay.


After spending seven nights in Yellowstone National Park, we bid farewell and made our way east to the Black Hills in South Dakota. We had planned to spend three nights in Hill City, South Dakota at Rafter J Bar Ranch before we headed home.

Upon recommendation from Kerri Cox, who blogs at Travels With Birdy, we chose to stay at Rafter J Bar Ranch in Hill City, South Dakota. As we arrived in the area two things were clear, the area is abundant with RV parks but none of them are Rafter J Bar Ranch.

At Rafter J Bar, we found space, which after a week at Fishing Bridge was a welcome feeling. Not only did we find space we found wide open space. Rafter J Bar is geographically huge. There are six different camping areas that vary from close to the amenities to remote sites far from the noise of the swimming pool. Their sites are large and spacious, some are even nestled into the pine trees. All the other RV parks we saw were crowded or had very little shade, or were right along busy highways.  That night as we sat around the campfire and reflected on our trip the conversation was all about how lucky we were to be at Rafter J Bar and not the local chain campground.

We chose to stay in the Ranch Camp. Ranch Camp is the furthermost camp from the office and swimming pool area. We traded wifi and cable tv for pine trees! Our loop had easy access to a shower house and laundry facility. Being able to access laundry without a line was another welcome relief coming straight from Yellowstone where the laundry facilities are as crowded as Old Faithful is. Each loop has different services/amenities so if you are looking to book a trip here, spend some time exploring what each loop has to offer.

The kids enjoyed the heated swimming pool even if we did have to drive them to it. While they play, we were able to connect to the wifi and communicate with the outside world (social media). Of course, on our scheduled “down” afternoon a thunderstorm passed through the area. That might have resulted in the best nap I had on the entire That’s WY vacation!

Rafter J Bar also serves an unlimited pancake breakfast most mornings. We purchased tickets from the office and on our last morning we enjoyed having someone else fix breakfast.

Our options for our three days in the Black Hills was abundant: Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road, Wind Cave National Park, Jewell Cave National Monument, Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Crazy Horse Monument, as well as the local antique shops, vineyards, and ice cream shops. With so many options, we knew we would leave wanting more. I was only moderately surprised when Wayne started mentally finding a way to extend our time there.

With so much to see and do in this area that it became clear this should be a destination and not a stop over. In the end, we all decided to do Mount Rushmore, at night as well as during the day. The Taylor’s and the Todd’s drove through Custer State Park on Needles Highway on our way to get to Wind Cave National Park. We chose Wind Cave over Jewell Cave because of the boxwork formations which we do not have in Missouri’s caves. The Master’s also took the Iron Mountain Drive and enjoyed the framed views of Mount Rushmore as well as the corkscrew roads. The Taylor and Masters families also made the commitment to drive an hour and half through Deadwood to get to Spearfish Canyon to go searching for a couple of “hidden gems” hikes.   Not being into hiking, The Todd’s chose to spend time exploring the local community, antique shopping and wine tasting.

We found something for everyone at this location. If you are visiting The Black Hills we highly recommend Rafter J Bar. Check back soon for details on our adventures in the Black Hills.



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