Travel too expensive? Consider taking a staycation at a South Dakota farm or ranch

Dominik Dausch
Farm Forum

Gas prices are still high, and summer travel is still a mess nationwide; taking a vacation isn't cheap or easy in 2022.

When you factor in hotels, food and airfare — costs Bloomberg reported have been rising — a trip out of town can even become prohibitively expensive.

For those still planning for some summer fun, staycations can offer a cheap alternative. That said, why not get in touch with South Dakota's agriculture industry a little better by staying at a farm or a ranch?

The Mount Rushmore state has a diverse array of farms and ranches to stay at on both sides of the Missouri, and many blend a tourism experience with an idyllic place to sleep for the night.

This list is a compilation of bed and breakfasts that offer agriculture-based activities and opportunities for visitors to explore rural South Dakota.

If there's a farm or ranch stay you believe is missing from this list, feel free to reach out to reporter Dominik Dausch at ddausch@gannett.com.

Circle View Guest Ranch

Exterior view of the Circle View Guest Ranch.

This 3,000-acre family-owned ranch sits right on the border of Badlands National Park and offers the consummate farm stay experience. Visitors will stay at the guest house while the Kruse family works cattle in the fields but are welcome to help with the daily ranch chores. At the end of the day, guests can watch as the sun sets over the Badlands vista from the back deck.

Amenities:

  • 1 bed 1 bath
    • 2 queen beds per room
    • Bathroom supplies included (except shampoo)
  • Full guest kitchen
  • Game room
  • Wi-Fi
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Indoor fireplace
  • Outdoor patio
  • Bunkhouses/camping cabins for kids under 10

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Ranch chores, including:
    • Chicken feeding and egg gathering
    • Calf bottle-feeding
    • Peafowl feeding and watering
  • Donkey petting

Location: 20055 E. Highway 44, Interior, 57780

Booking:

1880 Hamm Homestead Cabin

Visitors can stay the night in an 1880 homestead at Circle View Guest Ranch in western South Dakota.

Want to rough it in the country like the homesteaders of the 1880s? The Original 1880 Hamm Homestead Cabin, a detached bed and breakfast that's part of the Circle View Guest Ranch, will bring you closer to Laura Ingalls Wilder than you ever thought possible.

This cabin has no electricity, no running water and no shower. But don't fret, there is an outhouse on the premises. 

Amenities:

  • 1 bed 1 shared half-bath
    • 2 double beds
    • Authentic wooden outhouse
  • Pets allowed ($20-per-pet fee)
  • Indoor fireplace
  • Breakfast offered at Circle View Guest Ranch for $13 per adult or $7 per child (April-October only).

Required supplies:

  • Bedding
  • Basic camping supplies
  • Drinking water
  • Firewood

Activities:

  • Glorified camping
  • Listening to the yips of coyotes at night
  • 6 mile drive to Badlands National Park headquarters
Visitors can stay the night in an 1880 homestead at Circle View Guest Ranch in western South Dakota.

Location: 20055 E. Highway 44, Interior, 57780

Booking:

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Kate's Cottage on Peterson Farm

A view of the exterior of the cottage on Peterson Farm.

Kate's Cottage is a quiet country cottage surrounded by farmland in beautiful Beresford. If you're looking for a peaceful getaway from urban living or some tranquil quality time with a loved one, this farm stay has you covered. Heavy sleepers will love waking up to the sound of roosters crowing, and the resident pygmy goats are always fun to watch.

Amenities:

  • 1 bed (queen), 1 bath
    • Bathroom supplies included
    • Additional twin air mattress available at no extra charge
    • Air conditioning and heating
  • Pets allowed with prior approval
  • Homemade breakfast and wood-fired pizza
Lars and Charlie, two pygmy goats named after the owners of the Peterson Farm, love eating volunteer trees and watching visitors from their perch.

Activities:

  • Bicycle rides in the countryside
  • Bird-watching
  • Day trip opportunities to Vermillion and Sioux Falls

Location: Beresford. Directions provided upon booking.

Booking:

McDonald Mountain Ranch

Exterior view of the Calamity Jane Cabin at the McDonald Mountain Ranch.

Whether you're looking for a cozy family suite or feel like spending a little more on an elite cabin, the lodges at McDonald Mountain Ranch offer the perfect woodland getaway for people of all ages.

Three rustic cabins and two cozy suites along Playhouse Road southeast of Keystone offer the perfect sylvan retreat for families and couples alike. While there might not be much ranching done at the homestead these days, there's still lots of hiking trails to be explored in the area, and the ranch is just down the road from Mount Rushmore.

Amenities:

  • At least 1 bed 1 bath (varying between buildings)
    • Jacuzzi bathtub and walk-in shower
    • Bathroom supplies included
  • Starlink satellite internet
  • Kitchen/kitchenette
  • Air conditioning
  • Fireplace

Activities:

  • Nearby hiking trails
  • Located close to nearby caving attractions, monuments and zoos.

Location: 24549 Playhouse Road, Keystone, 57751. Specific directions provided on the ranch's website.

Booking:

  • 605-666-4556
  • BoogieForever@gmail.com

Normarke Farm Bed and Breakfast

The Normarke Farm Bed and Breakfast is located near Nemo, South Dakota and sits on 87 acres of wooded hills and wildflower meadows.

Scandinavian hospitality and South Dakota history are the main draws of the Normarke Farm Bed and Breakfast located in the heart of the Black Hills. Once used as a campsite by an expeditionary force under Gen. George Custer during the 1870s gold rush, the land eventually came under ownership of a couple with strong Swedish and Norwegian ancestry who sought to showcase their heritage by starting a bed and breakfast.

The rustic cabin features five themed rooms based off of various Scandinavian cultures. Each room is furnished with quilts and décor designed to evoke the aesthetics of the namesake's country.

Amenities:

  • At least 1 bed (varies per room), 1 bath
    • Bathroom supplies included
    • Two extra long single sleigh beds in the Sweden studio suite. Beds can be combined into a European king style single bed
      • Third bed offered for $25/night
  • Hot gourmet breakfasts, freshly baked treats in the evenings and all-hours snacks
  • Wi-Fi
  • Recreation room
  • Guest kitchen
  • Backyard patio and fire pit
  • Indoor lounge
  • Guest laundry
  • Guest sauna
The Sweden studio suite features two extra long single sleigh beds and white-painted furniture meant to evoke Swedish aesthetics.

Activities:

  • On-site hiking
  • On-site trout fishing at Reausaw Lake
  • Horseback riding
  • Skiing at Terry Peak and Mystic Mountain Ski Areas
  • Access to snowmobiling trails at Mystic Hills Campground

Location:12203 Nemo Road, Nemo, 57759

Booking:

  • 605-578-2125
  • normarke@me.com
  • More information at normarkefarmbnb.com
  • Discounts offered for extended stays and off-season bookings

Shalom Cottage

Want something that's quaint, cozy and not too far from town? The Shalom Cottage in Elkton might be just what you're looking for. With all the amenities of a small apartment and with the interior décor of a woodland abode, this cottage will appeal to outdoorsy folks and urbanites alike.

Karen Nelson, owner of the Shalom Cottage, also raises alpacas on her nearby farm, which guests are free to observe.

What makes this bed and breakfast different from most, however, is its neighboring alpaca farm. Guests are provided treats and encouraged to feed the furry friends before catching a beautiful sunset from the cottage porch.

Amenities:

  • 1 bed (queen) 1 bath
    • Bathroom supplies included
  • Breakfast
  • Kitchen space
  • Grill
  • Wi-Fi
  • Air conditioning and heating

Activities:

  • Bicycle rides (bikes provided upon request)
  • Alpaca feeding

Location: Elkton. Directions provided upon booking.

Booking: Airbnb only.

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Triple R Ranch

Exterior view of one of the cabins at Triple R Ranch.

Consider a stay at the Triple R Ranch, a historic backcountry abode in the middle of the Black Hills National Forest. The ranch is centered around memorable horseback rides in the beautiful countryside and is just minutes away from Mount Rushmore, Keystone, Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park.

Amenities: More information available on ranch's website.

Activities

  • Horseback rides Monday through Thursday
    • First all-day ride takes places Wednesday
    • Lunch offered midday
    • Cowboy supper offered on Wednesday evening
    • Steak supper offered on Thursday evening

Location: The ranch is 3 miles south of Keystone.

Booking:

  • 605-666-4605 or 888-RRRANCH (888-777-2624)
  • rrrranchsd@gmail.com
  • rrrranch.com

Dominik Dausch is the agriculture and environment reporter for the Argus Leader and editor of Farm Forum. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook @DomDNP and send news tips to ddausch@gannett.com.