The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Campers eager to get out and enjoy South Dakota parks

  • Print

GARRETSON, S.D. - After a brutal winter in this northern climate, Alan and Patricia Zwart were more than ready for early-season camping. But spring has not been particularly kind, forcing them to hold off until May.

"We usually try to get out in April, but the weather was just too cool," Alan Zwart said, as the couple enjoyed a recent sunny day at Palisades State Park near South Dakota-Minnesota border. "This is our first camping trip of the year."

The nasty cold spells and blizzards of this past winter have made people more eager than usual to go camping, said Doug Hofer, director of South Dakota's Division of Parks and Recreation.

"Camping reservations are up this year. Campers are beginning to show up in parks around the state, and it's clear everyone is tired of winter and ready to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends," Hofer said. "Our state parks are truly beginning to blossom, both in terms of use and the annual green-up from a long winter."

In addition to being home to some of the national park system's most famous destinations, including Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, South Dakota has 56 state parks and recreation areas, ranging from historic parks like Fort Sisseton to Custer State Park, known for excellent wildlife viewing. Many of South Dakota's state parks, like Oakwood Lakes and Lake Louise, offer various types of water recreation in addition to camping and other activities.

Arriving recently in a rented motor home, Helen and Adrean Vandoremalen of Helvoirt, in the Netherlands, were sightseeing on a trip from Chicago to Denver. It's the second time the couple have visited the United States, by way of its many campgrounds.

Travelling via motor home allows them to stop wherever they wish and get a better view of places that are off the beaten path, Helen Vandoremalen said.

"We have no obligation to be anywhere. We can just go where we want," she explained.

The European couple planned to visit several of South Dakota's popular attractions, including Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.

The Zwarts, of nearby Larchwood, Iowa, load their fifth-wheel camper and head for area campgrounds about 10 times each year, spending a couple of days on each outing away from home. The leisure time is very relaxing, Patricia said.

"We usually grill burgers one night and brats the next night," Alan added. "That keeps thing simple."

Like thousands of others who enjoy camping each year in this state, they like to ride their bikes, hike on trails and walk among campsites.

And they often have their grandchildren in tow.

"It's a good chance to get to know them better because there are no distractions," Patricia Zwart said.

Palisades State Park is popular with campers, photographers, picnickers, rock climbers, and hikers because of its unique Sioux quartzite formations. Its 50-foot (15-meter) cliffs tower over Split Rock Creek. The quartzite deposits are estimated to be 1.2 billion years old.

In 1886, silver was discovered in the creek, drawing hundreds of mining claims. But the silver proved to be of low quality, and the claims were quickly dropped. This tiny state park was later developed to preserve the area for the public. It has just 34 campsites, six small cabins and a group lodge.


If You Go...



Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Drew Willy says team couldn't get anything going

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Will you miss Grandma Elm?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google