Tent Trailer Travels ~ Part One

By: Inger Koppenhaver


One tent trailer, 2300 miles, four kids (two of whom became sick), two parents (one of whom became sick), ten days, and many, many historical sites and tourist stops later… our first summer tent trailer trip has concluded.  Most of our experiences were great with the exception of one VERY bad one (see part two)!  This post will share about our favorite stop on our crazy adventure.  Hopefully, it may inspire you to think out side of the triangle (tent) and take a chance on an RV!

We purchased a used, “vintage” tent trailer two years ago after a little bit of research and whole lot of uncertainty.  My family was not really a “tent camping” kind of family when I was growing up.  But, as I branched out on my own, I discovered that tent camping and outdoor activities were definitely my kind of thing!  My husband is an avid outdoorsmen and has taught me a lot about the ins and outs of making a camping trip into a true family kind of adventure.  But, jumping from tent camping into the world of tent trailers and RV parks was a bit out of our comfort zone.

The first summer, we gave our trailer a test run and spent some time at my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s place in rural Montana and two one-night stays at RV parks.  We enjoyed having a traveling “apartment”, were able to spread out in our sleeping arrangements and the storage was quite useful as well.  Our RV park stays were mostly good but nothing which made us sing from the rafters ;). After getting our feet wet that summer, we decided we were ready to attempt a journey through a couple of states this August using only our tent trailer with the addition of a couple of night’s stay at our good friend’s house. 

Our favorite stop along the way was when we visited Mt. Rushmore.  Only living a day’s drive away from this national monument has not made it any easier to go and visit.  It seems as if this destination has been on our back burner for too long but we finally snuck in a visit and are now ready to return again!

On the recommendation of a friend, we booked a two night stay at the Mt. Rushmore/Palmer Gulch KOA right outside of Hill City, South Dakota.  From the first phone call, I knew this place was a lot different than other hotels/motels/RV parks we have stayed in the past.  As we drove into the KOA, I was quite nervous.   We had stayed at only two other RV parks in the past with a mish mash of ups and downs and I was hoping for a safe place to land with a one child just recovering from feeling ill.

Two words sum up our experience… Family Resort.  We have never been on a cruise and don’t usually book high priced family vacation which cater to the full family experience.  But, for a lot less than a one night stay at a hotel… we had all of that and more!  There was a water slide, jumping cushion, two pools, a place to learn how to pan gold, a mini golf spot, a water splash play area, plus loads of more amenities with some that changed daily. 

My kids were drop jaw ecstatic about everything they could do.  You literally DO NOT HAVE TO leave the RV park to enjoy your vacation.  Of course, we left and visited a few spots… like MT. RUSHMORE!  All in all, we are DEFINITELY planning on visiting this RV park again and planning on staying a bit longer as well.  Palmer Gulch/Mt. Rushmore KOA really know how to treat their guests including those of the smaller variety. 




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