Campgrounds and Cabins
The closest campground to Mount Rushmore is on the Hill City side of the mountain and is a Black Hills National Forest Campground. The Horsethief Lake Campground (605/574-4402, www.recreation.gov, $23) is four miles southeast of Hill City on Highway 244 and just two miles from Mount Rushmore. Sitting at 5,000 feet, this small, relatively primitive campground has a beautiful location nestled in the trees. The campground does not have electricity or hook-ups, but flush toilets are on-site.
There are only 36 sites, of which 22 sites are suitable for either tents or RVs and 14 sites are tent only. Reservations are suggested due to the campground’s location near Mount Rushmore. The 10-acre Horsethief Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and perch, and boating is allowed (no powerboats, though). A nice 2.8-mile hiking trail skirts the lake.
With a similar name, but entirely different in amenities and facilities, is Horse Thief Campground & RV Resort (24391 Hwy. 87, Sylvan Lake Rd., 605/574-2668 or 800/657-5802, www.horsethief.com, open May 1–Oct. 15. closed in winter, tent sites $19–25.50, RV sites $22–41, sleeping cabins $41–55, cottage $100) If there is a most beautiful region in the Black Hills, the mountainous, forested, granite-spired area near Sylvan Lake is it.
The campground is located just three miles south of Sylvan Lake and sites are tucked into the pines. There is a corral available for horses ($10 each). Services include wireless Internet, picnic tables, a heated pool, a playground, and a camp store with a small selection of groceries and gifts. Bring your own bedding and cooking utensils for the sleeping cabins and the cottage. To get there, head south from Hill City on U.S. 385, turn left on Highway 87, and go two miles to the campground.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition