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A Campground with a Criminal Past?

July 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


Planning for one summer road trip found us searching for a place to camp in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. We happened upon a small campground called Horse Thief Lake Campground on the shores of, no less, Horse Thief Lake. One can only imagine how the lake was named!

Camping at Horse Thief Lake

Camping at Horse Thief Lake

The Black Hills are comprised of a small mountain range arising from the Great Plains. Separated from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, they have been described as an “island of trees in a sea of grass”. The Black Hills were so named by the Lakota Indians because of their dark appearance which resulted from their dense cover of pine trees.

While we had spent time at Mount Rushmore the previous day, we are traveling to this location with the goal of climbing Harney Peak, the high point of South Dakota, which is located nearby. Horse Thief Lake Campground is the nearest to our destination. We pull in late in the after noon, having spent the previous day in the eastern part of the state, and set up. We are pleased with our site in this primitive campground, devoid of showers and flush toilets, as it is situated on the shores of the lake, giving us a beautiful view of the sunset.

Swimming at Horse Thief Lake

Swimming at Horse Thief Lake

Our site was quite small, however, and we struggled to move our tent over a bit as the tent pad was situated adjacent to the fire ring for the adjoining campsite. Not an ideal situation. We manage to move the tent enough to mostly reassure ourselves and settle in for the night.

I chose to sit and relax with my view of the lake and write in our travel journal about the events of our day. I can see the trees and the Black Hills in the distance. Terry and the kids trek around the lake a bit to the swimming area for a dip before dinner. To my delight I can see them as I sit and enjoy my lake and forest view.

Sunset over Horse Thief LakeAfter dinner, we are treated to a spectacular sunset over the lake. It is a perfect end to a very good day. We prepare for our hike the following day and turn in early. The campground is quiet and we sleep well. The next morning we awaken early to begin our adventure and are treated with another spectacular view of the lake. We could not have asked for a more picturesque site, in spite of its potentially criminal past.

Visit Woodalls South Dakota camping to learn more about things to see and do in South Dakota.

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