Campgrounds implementing social distancing conditions as tourism season opens

RAPID CITY, S.D. — For some campgrounds, it was an unusually quiet Memorial Day weekend.

Scenes often associated to camping grounds such as crowded picnic tables and mass grilling have been replaced with social distancing conditions.

As the number of COVID-19 deaths in South Dakota hit 50, local campgrounds seek to navigate an important balance between keeping customers healthy, while also providing an authentic encounter with nature.

“We leave a space between the campers to make people feel comfortable,” said Kerri Harper, the Manager of Rapid City RV Park and Campground. “Make people feel safe coming here. If there are groups, we’ll put the groups close together. That way they can be within their own group”.

With 2 campgrounds and 120 sites, including 80 full hook-up RV sites, business for Rapid City RV Park and Campground is down 50 percent this holiday season. Kerri says the campers who are checking in are traveling from the same regions and with similar intentions.

“They’re coming through Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado; people are coming,” Harper said. “People are traveling and they want to come out and see Mount Rushmore. They want to come out and see Crazy Horse and do some of the trails.”

For KOA Campgrounds, safety for guests has meant the closing of communal spaces such as the game room and the playground. Plexi glass has also been mounted in the registration office for cautionary measures.

Travelers visiting KOA grounds this weekend, had different reasons.

“I’ve driven cross country a few times,” said Matthew Setser, a camper. “I’ve been stationed in San Diego. I’ve always wanted to drive across (Interstate)-90 just because I think it’s beautiful up here and it’s a perfect time of year to do so.”

For Levi Lewton, it’s all about family.

“We’re from Lemmon, South Dakota,” said Lewton. “We come down here to visit family. All three of my kids, Evellee included is adopted and all the birth families, they’re from here so we come here to visit them.”

For Evellee, s’mores over campfires are a bit hit. Seeing family is a bigger hit.

“I like to usually play with my siblings and all the little toys that I have in them,” said Evellee.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News