Tourism season rolls into Black Hills campgrounds

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Rapid City, SD The tourism season is rolling into the Black Hills this Memorial Day weekend.

Local RV parks were packed with campers kicking off the summer season and early numbers show a strong start to tourism.

Mamie Dieball, a visitor, said "We have fun anyway. Family comes up and joins in and we barbecue. And the kids swim and ride bikes. Lots of fun."

This family, and of course the dogs, have been staying at Rushmore Shadows Resort for about 10 years.

And they're not the only ones.

Gina Rose, the director of operations, said "This is our first big weekend. It is our big push for the summer."

The RV park is seeing up to a 15 percent jump in visitors this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year.

Zach Weymouth, the resort manager, said "We've been very, very swamped for the last couple weeks. Just getting everything prepped."

The park recently rolled out a new expansion and now has more than 180 total sites to help accommodate the rigs coming through.

Many campers now stretch up to 40 feet.

Rose said "Not the small pop-ups that they normally were way back in the day."

Camping has been a staple in the Hills with several dozen sites across the region.

Weymouth said "Everybody else in the Black Hills really enjoys being outside so I think camping has such a huge dynamic - especially for this area."

Dakota Small, a visitor, said "There's lots to do. We'll take our four wheelers up farther in the Hills and just go four wheeling and have a blast."

But, Dakota and her family haven't forgotten the true meaning of the holiday weekend.

Dieball said "To support the military."

The same message spread at Rushmore Shadows.

Weymouth said "It's about bringing families together in celebration of the troops and the sacrifices they made for our country. With the military base so close, it is something that we do need to pay attention to."

Rushmore Shadows' parent company also owns three other sites in Minnesota.

They bought the Rapid City location in 1999.