Kansas City to Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls, SD
For our next destination, we headed to Sioux Falls to get our driver licenses renewed. Unfortunately, the direct route from Kansas City to Sioux Falls (I-29) was closed in several spots in Iowa due to flooding of the Missouri River.
The detour recommended by Iowa DOT was to take I-35 north, then take I-90 into Sioux Falls, but that route would have added about two hours to the two days we planned to take to get to Sioux Falls. We considered crossing the Missouri River into Nebraska and taking US 75, which would have theoretically added less than an hour, but Nebraska DOT recommended against that due to numerous construction delays on US 75. The only reasonable route left was to take US 59 north in Iowa and cut back to the west to pick up I-29 again in Sioux City, IA north of the closures. Our GPS estimated this would add a little over an hour to two days of travel - not too bad.
US 59 runs roughly parallel to I-29 about 20 to 30 miles to the east through the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, we found a campground in the middle of nowhere at about the halfway point along the route.
Prairie Rose State Park is near the little town of Harlan, IA on Prairie Rose Lake. Prairie Rose has 95 campsites - 77 with electric only, 8 with full hookups and the rest with no hookups. From the campground map, it looked like most (if not all) the sites had 30/50 amps. Electric-only sites are $16 a night, and full hookups are $19. About half their sites are non-reserveable, so we had no problem getting a site for one night on a Monday.
There is an east loop and a west loop in the campground. From the satellite images online, we could see the west loop was heavily wooded, so we didn't even consider a site there. All the full hookup sites are on the east loop anyway, so that was another reason to skip the west loop. It's not that we need sewer for only one night, but we only travel with a minimal amount of fresh water in our tank to save weight. Therefore, for an extra $3, we preferred the full hookup site so we didn't have to look for a spigot and take time to add water to our tank before we set up.
We got the last non-reserveable, full-hookup site. Fortunately, it also allowed us to get good satellite reception.
The roads are paved, the sites are gravel, and there is grass between the sites. The sites are fairly wide, but not as wide as most state parks. Being in the middle of nowhere, the campground was very quiet - no traffic and no trains. In spite of being in the middle of nowhere, we had 4 bars on the cell phone. Go figure. The next photo shows a view down our row.
The east loop overlooks a finger of Prairie Rose Lake. There are two rows of sites that are terraced, so both rows have a nice view. However, the second row does have to look over the roofs of the RVs in the first row, but there was hardly anyone in the first row when we were there.
In the morning, we continued our detour northward up US 59. When we lived in Pittsburgh, we used to think western Pennsylvania had the worst roads in the country. Now that we travel, we are finding out there are other states that have a shot of claiming the dubious distinction of having the worst roads. Iowa is one of those states. Another one of those states where we have been recently is Louisiana, and Louisiana doesn't even have cold weather so they can't blame their bad roads on the freeze/thaw cycle and the use of road salt.
US 59 in Iowa has narrow lanes and narrow or non-existent shoulders that are also low in most places. The road also has a lot of pot holes and very rough expansion joints. When you're driving a heavy vehicle with 100 psi air pressure in the tires and a solid front axle, you really feel every jolt up through the steering wheel and through the seat of your pants. When we finally rejoined I-29 north of Sioux City, it wasn't a lot better. There were still narrow lanes and rough expansion joints. The South Dakota state line finally gave us some relief from the ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk of the expansion joints.
We pulled into Tower Campground in Sioux Falls in the early afternoon. We stayed at Tower Campground when we went to Sioux Falls get our drivers licenses when we first started full-timing 5 years ago. Tower Campground was a little rough around the edges back then with lots of older mobile homes in the eastern section and permanent RVs in the western section. From some of the reviews we read, it continued to go downhill until new owners took over about two years ago.
The new owners have done a remarkable job fixing up the campground. They still have some work to do, but they have cleaned out most of the mobile homes, the old house, and older RVs. The few mobile homes that remain are newer and very well-kept. They have installed new utilities in some of the old mobile home sites in the eastern section and converted them to relatively spacious RV sites. They want to do more sites, but they are waiting for zoning approval.
There was a time when our mail service, Alternative Resources, no longer recommended Tower Campground for those RVers staying in Sioux Falls to establish their South Dakota residency or to conduct other business. However, with the great improvements at Tower, they are once again on the Alternative Resources list of recommended campgrounds. Tower also gives Alternative Resources customers a special camping rate of $25.
There are full hookups with 30/50-amp electric (at least in the eastern section - we don't know about the western section) and free Wi-fi and cable. The roads in the eastern side are paved, as is about half the road in the western side. The sites are gravel. Unfortunately, the gravel is pretty dirty with lots of dark-colored, fine particles that tend to get tracked into the rig when it rains. We know that because it rained the first two days we were in Sioux Falls. The photo below shows our site at Tower Campground after the sun finally came out.
The next photo shows some of the other RV sites in the eastern section where our site was located.
And the photo below shows the western section where sites are a little closer together.
Tower Campground is conveniently located fairly close to town, but that also means there is a lot of traffic noise from I-29 that is nearby and from 12th Street, which is a busy, 4-lane, main artery into the city. There are also occasional trains fairly close by. Tower Campground is also close to Sioux Falls Regional Airport, which is home to the 114th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard. If the wind is right, Tower Campground is on the glide path to the airport, and you will get to see (and hear) passenger jets, commuter jets and F-16s. Fortunately, the noise from 12th Street and the airplanes quiets down at night. Although the F-16s are loud when they do fly over the campground, it's the sound of freedom; and we didn't mind.
The next morning, we headed over the the DMV office. In our next post, we'll tell you about our adventures at the license office and the sightseeing we were able to squeeze in.