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Situated in southwestern South Dakota, Fort Welikit Family Campground (pronounced Fort "we-like-it" Family Campground) occupies an expanse of nearly 21 acres. The establishment is currently owned by Steve and Kelly Saint who first acquired the acreage in 2013. Steve determines that one of the most unique aspects of the property is its location as he mentions that the business is "on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway." Many of the attractions that people can visit in the vicinity of the campground are nature-based with opportunities for outdoor recreation. A couple of the most notable touristic draws include Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park, both of which are located within a half-hour drive from the property. Several forested areas can be found inside and outside Welikit Family Campground as well.
Fort Welikit Family Campground is located in the southwestern region of South Dakota. A total of 100 different sites with a variety of types are available for reservation, which entail 67 RV sites, 23 tent sites 4 camping kegs, 3 full-service cabins, 2 teepees, and 1 covered wagon. Steve Saint, one of the owners of the property explains one of his goals for the campground, saying, "Everything that we do is to try to keep [the property] as natural as possible and to provide [our guests with] a camping experience." In an effort to live by this principle, the roof of each structure on the acreage is the color green to "blend in with the trees," says Steve.
In terms of amenities, all of the RV sites are full hookups with water, sewer, and either 30 or 50-amp electrical service. These reservable spaces generally range in size from 25 to 70 feet. As for the three cabins, each one has a different occupancy limit: One can accommodate two guests, another can allow four, and the remaining lodge can contain six people. Every cabin features a bathroom as well as a kitchen with pots, pans, dishes, a stovetop, a microwave, and a coffee pot. Bedding and towels are also supplied in these cabins. With regard to the camping kegs, Steve remarks that these particular units originate from Norway and are one of the most unique aspects of Fort Welikit Family Campground. Among the camping kegs as a whole, two of them are larger and two of them are smaller in size. The owner comments that the camping kegs are solely intended for people to sleep in them, considering that the amenities are few in number as they each contain a mattress, an outlet, and a light. Other unique units that the campground offers for reservation include the two teepees and the covered wagon. Lastly, the tent sites are divided into two types, according to Steve, with one of them being the "electric sites" that have an outlet, a light, and a pavilion cover, and the other one being the "basic and primitive" sites. Considering all of the aforementioned sites, Steve says that "every campsite is completely different from the next one and none of them are completely the same." He also mentions that they receive several visitors who come simply to try the different types of sites.
Aside from the reservable units that are available at Fort Welikit Family Campground, a few other facilities can be found on the premises. A main office building with a store allows patrons to purchase souvenirs, beer, local wine and, according to Steve, "basic necessities" as well. Moreover, a pavilion and two bathhouses are on-site for guests to utilize. Steve mentions that there are 13 bathrooms in total. Ten of the thirteen bathrooms include a toilet, shower, and sink, while the other three only have a toilet and a sink. It should also be noted that all of the bathrooms can provide hot water. Another building that visitors can access throughout the duration of their stay is the laundry facility.
Steve says that the grounds of the establishment are "heavily forested." He elaborates that nearly "99% of reservable spaces are heavily treed." Reportedly, the campground receives an abundance of deer and turkeys that roam the park. Moreover, the property itself also provides outdoor activities for patrons including a volleyball net, badminton, portable disc golf, footballs, kickballs, and tennis balls. A playground with slides and swings can also be found on the premises.
A number of attractions are situated in proximity to Fort Welikit Family Campground. Because of this, the owners presume that the location of the property is a particularly unique characteristic of the campground. One of the most notable attractions that typically draws a fair amount of tourists annually is Mount Rushmore, which is approximately a thirty-minute drive from Fort Welikit Family Campground. In addition to Mount Rushmore, the owners recommend their patrons visit Crazy Horse and Custer State Park during their stay. Steve also remarks that the establishment is "just a mile outside of Custer on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway." He further explains that Peter Norbeck, the person that the scenic byway was named after, founded Custer State Park.
Steve and Kelly Saint, the owners of Fort Welikit Family Campground, strive to emulate a family-friendly atmosphere at their property. In an effort to fulfill this goal, pavement and concrete areas are not used on the grounds. This is also an effort to "keep everything as natural as possible," according to Steve. One of the most important guidelines that the owners emphasize is, "If you're going to have a campfire, make sure it's completely out before leaving it unattended." An additional policy that Steve notes is as follows: "We protect our Ponderosa pines, so we do not allow anything to be tied to the trees."
The owner reports that focusing on the customer service aspect of the business has aided the overall success of the campground. Furthermore, online sources and word of mouth have helped the advertisement part of the business. Concerning the demographics of those who visit the campground, Steve says that they primarily receive families and those of a younger age; however, the demographics depend on the time of year. For example, the owners often see "older folks" during the month of May. Generally speaking, the campground tends to see a considerable number of repeat guests. Regarding the property's time of operation, Fort Welikit Family Campground is open from May 1st to October 15th. The busiest season for the establishment is typically from June to August.
Steve believes that some of the most unique elements of Fort Welikit Family Campground are the frequently mentioned aspects in guest reviews, which include the deer and turkey that roam the park, the bathrooms (and other on-site facilities), and the "camping feeling" that Steve mentions. One former patron remarked, "The bathroom facilities are extremely nice and the laundry [facility is] really handy. There’s a convenience store for essentials. Our dog enjoyed romps in the dog park. There’s a great area for kids and families to play games and enjoy the playground."
The acreage that is now currently known as Fort Welikit Family Campground was originally owned by the Chard family. After several generations of being under the ownership of the Chards, the property was purchased by Paul Leclaire who converted the land into a campground. The first section of the campground was officially opened in 2003; however, the entire construction process lasted from 2003 to 2009.
Prior to gaining ownership, Steve Saint, one of the current owners, mentions that he was "an injured veteran" who was in search of a job that could allow him to "work at [his] own pace." After discovering Fort Welikit Family Campground, Steve and Kelly Saint purchased the land in 2013 and have made a number of renovations to the grounds since then. Steve and Kelly added the main office, added/removed many campsites, built retaining walls, and added a new Wi-Fi system. As for future plans, Steve says that they are "constantly trying to come up with different ideas and expanding."
One of Steve's favorite parts of the job is having the opportunity to "meet people from all over the world." He and Kelly have received people from "the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Sweden, Canada, and Asia." Visitors come to the establishment from "almost every continent," according to Steve. Interaction between guests and the owners occurs often, and Steve says that frequently throughout the day, he drives around the campground to check on people.