2018-08-27.Pierre and Oahe Downstream Recreation Area
Flat, flat, flat, cattle, soybeans, corn and flat. There’s an 80 mph speed limit though, why bother with any speed limit at all? The US highways as well as the state ones across the high plains are very good generally. Along the roadsides were prairie sunflowers blazing among vast fields of soybeans and corn and towns of only 221 people whose existence was marked only by the huge silos and signs proclaiming “God is pro-life”. We traveled to the capitol of South Dakota, Pierre, pronounced “pier”, inexplicable given that it was claimed in 1817 by two French brothers, the Verendryes, for the French king and only deeded to the US through the Louisiana Purchase. Pierre is a city of only 14,000 but boasts a lovely capitol building and many nice monuments to the veterans. But it is generally, a small town with traffic way less than we experience in Doylestown on a daily basis. We tried to take the driving tour using the well written brochure we received but unfortunately, the map that was included did not include a map of the streets. So the driving tour information was useless. Even using the GPS map, we never found half of the streets. We found the visitor center for Fort Pierre (again pronounced “pier”) and got directions to the Cedar Hill Cemetery where the notorious and righteous are buried together though there was a Catholic and Protestant separation initially. The cemetery looks out over desolate hills with only the sound of the meadowlark and the rustling of the dry grasses as company. In the distance, cattle and horses grazed. Quite a peaceful but lonely spot.
We stayed at the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area, a state owned facility but built by the Army Corps of Engineers so the sites were all fairly large and level; something we have seen in many other corps parks. The Oahe Dam is a rolled earth dam approximately two miles across the Missouri River and it is the fourth largest in the US. However, it is the largest earthen dam project in terms of the amount of earth that had to be removed to create the project. It serves to reduce downstream flooding by the mighty Missouri and produces an incredible amount of hydroelectric for the citizens. Its tailrace is about a mile from the impressive turbines that produce the electricity. There are three campgrounds; any of which would be suitable for a rig our size and we were in Site 113 in Campground 2. There are about 200 sites in total and all are long and fairly level. Campground 3 is actually on the tailrace portion of the dam complex while Campground 1 does not have a river view. Our site had a view of the river but was shady and very lovely with full hookups. The only downside about the South Dakota parks is that, in addition to the camping fee, you have to pay an additional $6 per day for your towed vehicle. I would rather pay a higher camping fee and have the vehicle included in the fee but…whatever.