Photos by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star
The new Fall River Ranch RV Park will be located on land in between the Hwy. 18 Truck-bypass and Hwy. 71, with views of the nearby Seven Sisters mountain range. INSET: Todd and Melanie Wilson, who also own and operate Wilson Electric, said they hope to have the campground operational before by this summer.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – For many years, Todd and Melanie Wilson traveled the country in their RV, going from state to state, wherever their electrical engineering subcontracting job would take them.
During their travels away from their home state of Arizona, the Southern Black Hills – particularly the mixed terrain of the foothills and prairies around Hot Springs – always appealed to them.
In 2016, the couple decided to put down some roots and purchased land near Angostura. The Wilsons then started a local, family-owned business known as Wilson Electric, which specializes in new residential and commercial construction as well as other electrical needs and service calls.
Recalling their time on the road, and seeing the need for more year-round and long-term camping options for travelers, the Wilsons began looking into a new business venture. They eventually struck up a conversation with local developer Steve Simunek, who at one time, had also considered building a large campground on land he owned that was situated between Hwy. 71 (Cascade Road) and the Hwy. 18 truck bypass.
Late last year, the Wilsons purchased just under 13 acres from Simunek, and this upcoming summer, plan to have open the new Fall River Ranch RV Park.
“We traveled in an RV for a long time and just saw the need here in Hot Springs,” Todd said.
What they are planning to do here will represent everything they liked about their experiences at the various campgrounds they had traveled to and stayed at all across the country. One thing in particular that they feel their campers will like about Fall River Ranch RV Park will be its easy access off the Hwy. 18 truck bypass and its openness to accommodate the very large coaches and trailers, which continue to grow in popularity.
Despite having a lot of open spaces and being located between two highways, the land dips down into a valley which helps to shelter it from some of the neighboring property. They have also purchased several varieties of trees that will be planted to enhance the setting near the Seven Sisters mountain range.
Phase 1, scheduled to be completed by mid-May 2021, will include 31 sites along with a bathhouse with showers and laundry services. The second phase will provide an additional 20 more sites, along with an office building and additional structures along the bypass and near the current U.S. Forest Service building. Todd said those buildings will take on an 1800s “Old West Town” look. The addition of around 16 cabins, and some tipis as well, is also planned to provide an additional lodging options for travelers.
The third and final phase will include paving all of the roads and sites, as well as possibly adding a pool. Given its location not far from the golf course, the Wilsons said they can see being able to offer a golf cart to their guests to drive to the course and play a few rounds.
The goal is also to eventually promote the campground for long-term stays, with “snow birds” coming to the Southern Hills for its mild winters, or even just staying over for a few weeks on their way further south and back.
Thus far, most all of the sewer and electrical lines have been put into place. That work began in mid-November and was helped by mild weather. The recent cold spell put much of the work on hold, but with milder weather in the forecast, things should get back on track soon.
Dwight and Brian Wynia with Construction Services have been doing much of the work. The Wilsons said Kelly Simunek was also a big help in getting the land flattened out to better accommodate the large campers that will soon be using the sites. The Wilsons also said the City of Hot Springs has also been very helpful.
“This will be a first-class campground when it’s done,” the Wilsons both stated.