Camping in Luxury at Under Canvas Mount Rushmore
Year round, millions of history lovers and outdoor enthusiasts travel to South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Black Hills region.
As visitors trek through the area, they explore nearby caves at Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument, visit Custer State Park, see rock formations that are among the oldest in the western part of the United States, and stop at the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center at Crazy Horse Memorial. Along the way, they may encounter mule deer, yellow-bellied marmot, chipmunks, squirrels, elk and non-indigenous rocky mountain goats.
For most, the focal point is South Dakota’s number one attraction, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, with its 60-foot carved granite faces of former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Decades after the site’s completion in 1941, people continue to be fascinated by this man-made marvel.
But now there is a new way to see it.
Under Canvas Mount Rushmore was created to serve affluent travelers desiring sensational views of these presidential faces from the luxury of a well-appointed tent community. These deluxe accommodations are part of the Under Canvas brand that was launched in 2009 by Sarah and Jacob Duskek. The Duseks modeled their all-inclusive glamping adventures after an African safari experience.
Their glamping sites are located near Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Moab, Utah. In May, Under Canvas started a new facility near Mount Rushmore. While the 2018 season ended on Oct. 1, it’s not too early to start planning for the 2019 season that runs from May 9 to Sept. 29, 2019.
Are you Ready for Glamping?
Under Canvas provides “a bridge to the outdoors for people who quite frankly really don’t want to rough it.”
It’s a hassle-free way to camp outside and simultaneously be close to a popular destination. Guests can comfortably sleep in well appointed tents surrounded by Mother Nature without having to do any of the work associated with transporting equipment, assembling tents, building a campfire, and cooking food over an open flame.
The onsite staff performs the hard labor and is available 24 hours a day. But, if you’re looking for a bug and critter free environment, take a pass on glamping.
Who Should Book a Reservation?
The Mount Rushmore location appeals to families, multi-generational families, couples, and groups of like-minded individuals. The facility has cribs, pack n’ plays, and camp cots with sleeping bags.
The tents do not have air conditioning. A limited amount of cooling is provided by the solar powered fans and misting systems. During hot summers, this situation may not appeal to some individuals.
Room rates vary from $199 to $449 per night with packages available for a range of activities. Food options are also available for an additional cost.
Location, Location, Location
Vacation properties that are located in key places add value to the overall travel experience. Being close to main attractions and having spectacular views are two top priorities.
Under Canvas Mount Rushmore offers views of the monument from their tree-lined property and a secluded location that is on the outskirts of a former gold mining settlement. This adds an historical touch. It’s a short drive to the nearest town.
Daily activities are arranged by Under Canvas’ skilled coordinators to meet the individual needs of its guests. To avoid disappointment, it’s advisable to book several weeks in advance of arrival.
Activity options include Black Hills private tours, kayak and SUP tours, guided hikes, a visit to the nearby Aerial Adventure Park, rock climbing at Custer State Park, back country biking, gold panning and a gold mine tour, and an off-road jeep adventure searching for bison, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats.
Guests seeking inclusive packages can choose from the three day Rushmore Adventure Package or the four day Expedition Package.
The stars are more vibrant because the pathways are only lit by solar energy. The common areas — the reception area and the shared bathrooms — have lighting. However, guests should be aware that the tents are not wired for electrical outlets or WiFi. The use of small appliances and the internet will not be possible. If you’re ready to unplug, this is great place to consider.
Guest will be provided battery-powered fans and lanterns with USB plugs that can be used to charge cell phones. However, the quality of the cell coverage will vary from one provider to the next. A limited number of generators are available on a first-come first served basis for CPAP machines and medical devices.
Breakfast and dinner are labeled as “fast casual dining.” Some opt for a leisurely breakfast while others take breakfast on the go. Lunch sacks can be ordered from a menu by 10 p.m. for pickup the next day. Dinner is shared with other guests around the community campfire.
The food is not included in the nightly room rate. While the menu is small, it does include a few vegetarian and children friendly options. Food can also be purchased at restaurants and grocery stores in Keystone, a mile away.
Guests can use the property’s cooking utensils and gas grills to prepare food. However, individual utensils, bags of ice, and coolers are not available. To avoid an infestation of bugs and critters, food products need to be stored in vehicles rather than the tents.
Dogs are welcome so long as they are kept on a leash and are not left unattended in the tent.
Guests are asked to clean up after their animals. An extra fee of $25 is charged per pet.
Be Prepared — Your Gear
With a limited amount of space, it’s always best to pack light. To be adequately prepared for the conditions, check the upcoming weather report. The region is known for extremes in temperature and plentiful summertime rain.
Make sure to pack comfortable hiking shoes, backpacks, layers of clothing, a waterproof raincoat, healthy non-perishable snack foods in individual packages for day treks, and appropriate containers for water.
This glamping site has a variety of luxury tent options. Safari tents have king size beds and wood burning stoves. The wood burning stoves and chopped wood will come in handy during the cooler evenings.
The bathroom facilities are a minute or two walk from these tents and are housed in their own structure. Each of the six-shared bathrooms has a shower, a sink and a flushing toilet.
Deluxe, stargazer, and suite tents have the added bonus of additional space and private ensuite bathrooms. The more expensive options include superior views and additional privacy.
Each tent is equipped with the basics — sheets, pillows, blankets, towels, shampoo and body wash. Some may be surprised to learn that the tents are zipped shut and do not have locks. It is advisable to store valuables in a locked car or to leave them at home.
Elements of Sustainable Travel
Under Canvas Mount Rushmore was designed with a minimal footprint.
By using low flow toilets, faucets with automatic shut offs, and chain activated showers, the Mount Rushmore camp uses 87 percent less water than a comparably sized hotel. The consumption of electricity is kept to a minimum.
By the beginning of the next decade, the Duseks plan to replace their plastic products with compostable items