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What to do if it's raining and you are staying at a Black Hills campground

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You have been planning your vacation for months. As you pull into the Black Hills campground that you intend to call home for the next few days, the sky darkens as clouds block the warm rays of the sun. Just as you finish pitching your tent, the breeze becomes cool and you feel tiny drops of water begin to land on your face. It's raining. You are camping. Now what?

clouds A rain shower does not have to ruin your Black Hills camping trip. With a little advanced planning, you can survive the storm, even with kids in tow. Here are some ideas for what to do when those dark clouds loom over your nylon home:

1. Go spelunking — There are many caves in the Black Hills such as Rushmore Cave, Jewel Cave and Wind Cave. They offer such wonderful protection from the elements that you will not even be able to tell what the weather is doing outside. Most offer walking tours through the caverns. Be sure to call ahead of time however, as many require reservations and offer specific times that tours are available.

2. Find a restaurant — Rapid City and the Black Hills have many places to sit down indoors and enjoy a fantastic meal. Be adventurous and take in some local flavors of bison, Indian tacos, or perhaps a walleye fillet. If you really want a unique experience, attend a chuck wagon dinner show. These include western entertainment, metal chow dishes, and cowboy cuisine.

3. Visit a museum or art gallery — Hill City has no shortage of the arts. From the trains at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum to the dinosaur bones at the Black Hills Institute, you are sure to be entertained and maybe even learn something new. The town also has several art galleries to stroll, featuring local artists who capture their surroundings in a way that is true to their unique culture.

4. Go see giant rock carvings — Even in the rain both Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial offer indoor options. Explore the museums and watch the history of each carving in an informational movie offered several times daily. Both also have gift shops and restaurants right on site for a trinket or bite to eat. Both monuments are visible from viewing terraces, however, in bad weather the carvings are sometimes obstructed by low lying clouds.

5. Go swimming — The Southern Black Hills hold many natural hot springs. The town of Hot Springs is home to Evans Plunge, the World's Largest Natural Warm Water Indoor Swimming Pool. Try the water slides or just relax in the 87 degree naturally heated mineral water pool.

No matter what your preference for a rainy day, there is plenty to do in the Black Hills if bright sunshine is not in the forecast. When the sun does come out, there are an abundance of hiking trails and outdoor attractions. The climate is classified as semi-arid so those gloomy days do not generally last long periods of time. If it happens to still be raining when you climb into your tent for the night, what better way to fall asleep than to be surrounded by the sound of raindrops and nature.

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