South Dakota camping spots filling up quickly to begin the year

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 6:35 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - It isn’t too late yet to start making campground reservations in South Dakota. But campgrounds themselves are signaling that space is running out.

In part to the ongoing pandemic, campgrounds across the state are seeing a bigger amount of reservation requests to begin 2021, at both public and private campgrounds.

South Dakota Campground Owners Association Executive Director Mary Arlington said momentum from interested campers last year is carrying over into 2021. She said across the state, campground owners are reporting that spots are filling up much more quickly than in years previous.

“The phones are ringing and the online reservations are flowing in much earlier, for both the spring and the summer camping season. There’s still availability, but it’s just so unusual to have the phones ringing and the reservations flowing in so quickly, so early in the year,” Arlington said.

Those that got interested in camping last year are looking to get out again this season, said Arlington. And that’s being aided by continuing health guidelines restricting what indoor activities can take place this year, pushing people outside.

“They’re desperate to get out of their homes. They know that they can maybe, maybe they’re doing school and work from home, which means they can do it from anywhere. So they are out. They just want to break out from the confines of the home.”

It’s not just people traveling to South Dakota for vacation that are looking for spots but also many state residents looking for nearby activities outdoors, and landing them in campgrounds.

“We people come here for certain events. I believe PBR is here this year. So they want to stay in a camper. They can fit more people, and their whole family can hang out together outside as opposed to getting a hotel,” said Alan Spencer, owner of the Sioux Falls KOA.

“They are just as excited to get out and go camping as anybody that’s taken a large journey. Even some, you know, shorter travel from our surrounding communities into Sioux Falls for a weekend, or a few days,” said Ray Aljets with Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park of Sioux Falls.

Arlington said this isn’t to say that there are no more spots available at any campgrounds in the state, plenty are still open. But more popular holiday weekends are filling up quickly, so plans should be made as early as possible.

“When it comes to finding a time though, the more flexible you can be, the more likely you’re going to find the proper vacation destination for you,” said Arlington.

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