Another Harvest Hosts Win at Garvin Heights Vineyard

After our fourth day of driving, we spent the night at Garvin Heights Vineyard, a Harvest Hosts location. If you are unfamiliar with Harvest Hosts, you can visit their website here. The gist is that for one low annual membership fee, you get access to over 1,250 locations throughout the country that allow you to spend the night in your RV on their property for free. These locations can include wineries, breweries, farms, museums, etc. You are expected to purchase something from the host, and at this particular stay, we bought a bottle of wine and pack of cheese curds. If you use this link, you’ll receive 15% off.

Garvin Heights is a small property, and the parking provided to us was in their (also small) parking lot. Thankfully when we arrived, there were not a lot of cars parked in the lot and we were able to back in to our designated spot without issue. The winery is only open a handful of hours each day from Thursday to Sunday (we stayed on a Sunday), but received quite a few visitors while we were there. As we are still being diligent about our social distancing, we opted out of doing any wine tasting, and instead just picked a bottle of their Great River Rouge for purchase. The winery closed at 5pm, and from that point on, it was a VERY quiet evening. We had hoped to utilize more Harvest Hosts for the previous few nights, but Sunday was the first day it wasn’t crazy hot and the evening into overnight temps were comfortable. We spent the night with the windows open to thoroughly enjoy the crisp air and all of the chirping and buzzing of the various insects and creatures that make this area home. It was one of the best nights of sleep either of us had experienced in a long time!

After getting settled in at the winery, we drove around Winona a little bit. We found our way to Garvin Heights City Park, which offers fantastic views of the city, Mississippi River and Buffalo, Wisconsin. The city is super cute and in any other time (sans pandemic, that is), we would have done a little more exploring. Instead, we headed back to the Airstream to enjoy some wine and play Scrabble.

Dakota Sunsets RV Park – Salem, SD

As we continued our drive east along I-90, we stopped for one night at Dakota Sunsets RV Park and Campground. This is a small, well-kept RV park with level sites and lots of trees. It appeared they recently re-graveled all of the sites and roads throughout the park, and turned what were previously some back-in sites into long pull-thru sites, which is what we ended up in. When I called to make a reservation, they didn’t take a deposit, but asked if we’d call to cancel if we weren’t going to make it. I had reserved a back-in site over the phone, but when we arrived, Polly (the owner) asked if we would prefer a pull-thru as she had one available. I said I would and she gave it to us for the price of a back-in along with a veteran discount. We ended up with a very nice site for a very reasonable price. This was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, but the park was not full and our stay was a peaceful one. Located about 45 minutes west of Sioux Falls, Dakota Sunsets advertises themselves as “the perfect overnight oasis for visitors who are traveling to and from our state’s many great attractions and scenic wonders”. It really was a great place to stop for the night! We didn’t use any of the amenities, so I can’t provide insight on those.

Dakota Sunsets RV Park and Campground

25495 US Hwy 81, Salem, SD 57058

www.dakotasunsets.com

  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Full Hookups
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Trash Pick-Up at Site
  • Firewood/Ice Delivery to Site
  • Laundry
  • Wifi
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Playground
  • Rec Hall
  • Tent Sites
  • Horseshoes
  • Camp Store
Site 6 is a large, level pull-thru with trees, grass, a fire pit, and picnic table.

Rapid City/Black Hills KOA – Rapid City, SD

Of all the time we’ve spent in this part of South Dakota, this was the first time we stayed at the KOA in Rapid City.

To read about our past stays in the Rapid City/Black Hills area, check out these posts:

The Badlands and the Black Hills (2018)

The Black Hills of South Dakota – Custer, Hill City, and Spearfish (2019)

As we made our way east from Bozeman to Wisconsin, we opted for a night at the Rapid City KOA for one main reason — we wanted full hookups. Until the day previous to our stop in Rapid City, we hadn’t been in the Airstream for about 2.5 months. On the morning of the day we arrived at the KOA, we had filled our freshwater tank with bleach water in order to sanitize it on the ~5-hour drive, so we needed to have a water and sewer hookup to dump and flush things out.

Even though it was the Friday of Labor Day weekend during a summer when RV sales and rentals skyrocketed, the campground wasn’t full and it was a very quiet stay. We opted for a pull-thru site, which was long, level, and gravel. Our site was on the end of a row, so we had a large front yard with no neighbor. We didn’t use any of the amenities, so I can’t comment on those, but the office had a plexiglass partition up at the check-in desk and the employee was wearing a mask, so COVID precautions were in place.

Rapid City/Black Hills KOA

3010 E. Hwy 44, Rapid City, SD 57703

www.koa.com

  • Full Hookup Sites
  • Some Sites with Cable
  • Picnic Table
  • Fire Pit
  • Cabins
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Store
  • Dump Station
  • Propane Fill
  • Air Pump
  • Dishwashing Station
  • Enclosed Dog Area
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Playground
  • Swimming Pool
  • Game Room
Site 217 is a Full Hookup (30amp) Pull-Thru
Site 217 is an end site with no neighbor out our front door.

Even though we were only there for a night, we made sure to get out and visit a couple of sights we hadn’t seen before in Rapid City. The first was the Chapel in the Hills (c. 1969), which is an exact replica of the famous Borgund Stavkirke (c. 1100s) in Laerdal, Norway. It was gifted by a local benefactor and holds worship services every evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day (though service is not being held right now). It’s gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. There’s also a fantastic park called Canyon Lake Park as you drive to the church, though we didn’t have time to stop and explore it.

The second place we visited, which was a short drive from the Chapel, was Dinosaur Park. It’s a kitschy little stop with a few (somewhat dilapidated) dinosaur statues on Skyline Drive, with decent views of the city and a little visitor center/gift shop. It’s free and probably fun for kids, but nothing to write home about.

 

A Second Visit to 7th Ranch RV Camp

In early September, we decided to take a trip to Wisconsin to visit family. We had been in our condo in Bozeman for about two months and were getting a tad bit restless, so after the very last item we had ordered for our new place arrived, we hitched up and hit the road.

The bulk of the drive from Bozeman east to Wisconsin is along I-90 East, and anyone that has driven this stretch of Interstate knows that it’s not the most exciting. And seeing as this would not be our first time driving this route, we knew it would be even less exciting for us. However, Garryowen, Montana is a good (almost) halfway point between Bozeman and Rapid City, which was to be our next stop.

Garryowen is tiny and there isn’t much of a town to speak of, but Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is located a couple miles north in Crow Agency, Montana. The monument educates about a very important time period in our country’s history and is a very worthwhile stop. A visit can be accomplished in a few hours time.

We stayed at 7th Ranch RV Camp and visited the monument in July 2018, which you can read about and see photos of here.

I’ll add a few things about both 7th Ranch RV Camp and Little Bighorn Battlefield that weren’t highlighted in that post or have changed since our last visit:

  • When you make a reservation at 7th Ranch, they don’t take a deposit or any personal information. They just ask that if you aren’t going to make it, to call. This is great for people that like to change their minds or have a last-minute change of plans for some reason. However, it makes the check-in process longer than necessary, especially when multiple RVs show up at the same time. We waited 25 minutes to check in on a very hot day when we were fifth in line. If they took a little more info over the phone, this process could be sped up.
  • While the sites are nice, long pull-thrus, our site was very unlevel side to side and required three layers of levelers to get us to an acceptable place.

  • The visitor center at Little Bighorn is currently closed due to COVID. They have also blocked off every other parking spot in order to minimize the amount of visitors at a time.

  • If you travel with dogs, this might not be a stop for you. There are signs posted that dogs are not allowed outside of vehicles. I’m assuming this is because of the nature of this monument and the fact that a large part of the property is a veteran cemetery.