Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our South Dakota Land Hunt!


Few places touch our hearts like the Black Hills of South Dakota…Other places might include the farmlands of North Dakota, the forests of Northern Wisconsin or the lakes in Ontario. We have talked about each of these areas (except Ontario) as an ultimate landing place when we stop traveling or perhaps slow down a little and the Black Hills is at the top of our list!

Why you ask? If you have ever been here and seen the beauty of the area yourself, you know the answer. But there are other reasons as well.  How about no mosquitos? The abundant wildlife in the form of deer, elk, antelope turkeys and buffalo. For us, it is centrally located to many of the other activities we like to do and has all four seasons without a harsh winter. All of these things combined has really brought it to the top of our list of areas to look for property. This is probably our 6th or 7th trip out here looking for property and we have narrowed down our search area and are ready to pull the trigger!

Speaking of snow I don’t think we have had a day we have not had snow in the past week. We ran into quite a bit of snow on our drive to Casper and even more when we arrived there.  As a matter of fact we stayed an extra day in Casper so we would not have to travel in the snow.
Does it get any more beautiful than this?

We had to stop for this herd of elk to cross the road


Headed up the mountain switchbacks


Dakota LOVES playing in the snow!
When we arrived to the Black Hills, we had originally planned on dry camping at Ditch Creek Campground but a look at the forecast for the first few days we were in the area called for continued snow and rain so we diverted to a campground where we at least had power to keep us a little warmer.  Country Charm Cabins is has a small campground with deer and turkeys all around the property driving the dogs crazy throughout the day.
This guy was showing off for the ladies


So what are we looking for in the perfect piece of property? Numbers 1, 2 and 3 on our list are a view, wildlife and being remote. Of course price also plays a key role. There are plenty of beautiful places if you have a couple of million. Our budget is WELL below that. Ideally we would like the property to border National Forest lands but that is not a deal breaker. Water and power is also a consideration. In many areas of the Black Hills the water is just too deep to practically have a well.  Some areas have rural water (~$80-120/month) while others have no water at all and require you to truck in your own water.


Working with a realtor we narrowed our search down to about a dozen properties in the Custer/Pringle area. Some of the pieces were as small as 5 acres while the biggest was 80 acres. Some had huge sweeping views while others had smaller views of valleys or pockets of forest. We weren’t tied to one view or the other as long as we liked what we saw. We drove by some eliminating them without getting out of the truck and eliminated more after walking them. Finally we had narrowed down our choices to 3. The remote 80 acre piece, and a 5 acre piece bordering National Forest land and a 50 acre piece which also bordered the National Forest.  Each had their pros and cons and were unique in their own special way.

The 80 acre piece had sweeping views and several deep ravines. The down side it was really remote and would cost almost $20,000 to bring power in, no water and did not have the amount wildlife we were envisioning.
View from the 80 acre piece



The 50 acre piece was about ½ open and ½ wooded. It had power right to the property line but would require us to truck in our own water.
The wildlife in this area is incredible!
The 5 acre piece was along a road but it bordered National Forest land and had great views as long as no one built in front of you.  
A little too close to the road for us
Our plan was to continue to walk each of these pieces, look for building sites and get a feel for each of them. Do we see ourselves living there?

After walking each piece on more time we decided that the 50 acre parcel was the one for us. We would need the seller to come down a bit to get it into our comfortable price range but we were confident that we could get the deal done. Meeting with our realtor the next day we told her which piece we decided on and what we would like to offer. That is when she informed us that the seller had rejected a higher offer just a few weeks before and did not seem willing to go much lower than their asking price!

Disappointed we did not even bother writing an offer and headed back to our rig. With the weather forecast calling for warmer, sunny weather we decided to move up to Ditch Creek. Although it was only 30 or so miles what a difference! We noticed a little snow as we were driving from Custer to Hill City and a little more from Hill City to Ditch Creek Rd. But we were not prepared for the amount of snow we found on the road itself! Apparently this little valley receives and retains more snow then the surrounding area!

Once on the road you are really committed as the first place to turn around is 4 miles down the road at the campground itself. The road was slick and sloppy requiring us to put both vehicles into 4WD. Even with that we slipped a little going up a few hills. Luckily we made it to the campground without running into any other traffic.

It was apparent that no one had been to the campground in quite a while and after a little slipping and sliding we got the rig parked into our favorite site.




Ditch Creek is a beautiful campground right along one of our favorite trout creeks. Usually $15/night the campground is free during the off season. 047 Over the next couple of days the snow had melted but then late the following afternoon it started to rain, eventually turned to snow and we woke up to over 7” covering the area!


Snow on our favorite little trout creek
I created this video of our drive in and parking the rig but what you will really want to see is me crashing the drone into a tree. As I was flying it, I was not paying attention and crashed it right into a tree! It took me a while to find it but luckily the drone survived without damage and is ready to fly again. The crash is on the tail end of the video below……


Down, but not out we continued to drive around looking at different pieces of property. We were driving by a 45 acre piece we had written off on a drive by during our last visit to the area when Barb said “let’s just stop and walk it”. From the road it looks like an open arid 45 acres. We saw nothing but a prairie dog village.  You could not see the entire property due to a hill so we decided to walk it anyway. Once we got out and started walking it we discovered that it has a 20 acre wooded section you cannot see from the road. Not only that there were beautiful views, a small valley in the pockets of the trees, and we saw deer and signs of turkey in the area. After our initial walk we liked this piece even better than the 50 acre parcel!  

The following day we walked the 45 acres with our realtor and her husband to make sure where we thought the boundaries were were indeed the boundaries. After they left we walked it again and stood in several areas that we thought might make great house sites. We also marked each of the survey markers with our GPS. When we got back to the truck we entered them into Google Earth to get an idea of how the property laid out with the surrounding area.

So much goes into making a decision like this…excitement, doubt, fear….do we want to settle down here eventually? Do we want to spend this much money? Is this the right place? Without any hesitation we said yes to each of those questions and the next day we wrote up an offer. We were not expecting the seller to accept that offer and of course they didn’t but after a little back and forth they accepted our offer and we are set to close in less than two weeks!
Overview of the property
View from our house location
Some other random shots......





We are very excited about this new adventure, having a home base, having a place for friends to stay over when in the area and thinking about when and what to build over the next couple of years. More to come on that in the future……..



           


39 comments:

  1. Forty five acres will be able to accommodate a lot of hookups!! Congrats, and glad you found what you were looking for!!

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    1. We were planning on having one pad with hook ups for friends but it sounds like we may need another one!

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  2. Congrats! So happy for you! Good choice of area--The Black Hills are magnificent! Best wishes in your endeavors

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    1. You would like but it looks like a lot of you mouse friends have invaded our rig!

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  3. I'm so happy for you. I love the Black Hills best of all the places we've been. Can't wait to see it! Joan

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  4. Congratulations ... how very exciting. Let me know if you need anyone to bounce ideas off of. As a licensed GC, I designed and built over 100 custom homes in our small southern CO community. Every now and then, I miss the biz and think about buying our own slice of land to build a home base.

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    1. Thanks for the offer! We are looking at a couple different options but definitely want something we can fit our rig into.

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  5. Wow! Congrats! Sounds like a beautiful area - Bill and I haven't made it out there - yet! It's on the list - and now we will have even more reason to come that way! You didn't give any details about if there's water/electric, etc. Good luck!

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    1. I will get into some more detail in the next post you guys really need to make it out this way, you would love it!

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  6. Looks like an awesome spot. Congratulations. Power? Water?

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  7. Congrats on the new property! We are so happy for you guys. We see a new FHU campground in our future with a beer tasting bar! 😜🍻 You guys are braver than I for hauling your rig around in the snow...way to go Barb! Nice flying Jim!

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    1. We need to figure out how to get you guys to head east a little bit so you can come visit!

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  8. So glad you found your future home! The property looks wonderful with beauty all around. This post has way too much of that cold white stuff, though...just wanted to point that out:) That was quite a crash for the drone. It looks like it was quite high, but you obviously were able to get it down.

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    1. Ha! You must be allergic to that white stuff. It was a good thing there was some of that on the ground when the drone crashed as it softened the impact.

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  9. I sure do enjoy all the great adventures you guys find. What a beautiful piece of property you have chosen! Most folks think of South Dakota as badlands and interstates, but certainly the forests, wildlife and incredible scenery especially in the west are unmatched. But no mosquitoes? Hmmmmm. :-)

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    1. It is incredibly beautiful out here. The west side of the state is vastly different than the rother st of the state.

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  10. Very cool to find your place. Barb is braver than I am. I hope to never drive the rig on snow.

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    1. We don't mind a little snow but this was a little more slippery than we wanted.

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  11. Congratulations. Karen has family in the Rapid City area, living in the Black Hills with Government Land just behind them. They built a log home from logs of an older site. We too enjoy the area when visiting. They moved there for some of the same reasons.

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    1. That is one of the things unique about this area, that amount of public lands out there to explore!

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  12. Congratulations Jim and Barb! What an exciting chapter to begin.

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  13. Wow! Looks like the perfect spot for the two of you. Congrats. May the wildlife always poop in your valley. (Old Irish saying or at least it should be.)

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    1. Good to hear from you guys! We will have to make plans to get together if you guys head west again.

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  14. You guys really like the snow. Not us. I would not try and get my RV down that road. I will find a place to plug in. You should put a snow plow on your truck. Those are fun.

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    1. We saw a jeep like ours with a snowplow set up on it, might have to look into that!

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  15. Congratulations. Really happy you guys found. The perfect spot!!

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  16. Congrats! That is such a beautiful area and it looks like you've found your little slice of Heaven! From all the comments, I guess you'd better plan on installing a couple of hook-ups. After all, we'll practically neighbors from our Lot 5 in Idaho!

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    1. It is beginning to look that way! We would love to explore Idaho some more, what we have seen is beautiful......

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  17. Congrats on the property purchase! Cheers to your new adventure and home base!

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  18. Congratulations! Looks like a wonderful location. Good luck on this next chapter!!

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  19. Congratulations on your new Home Base. Even if you only use it for a Summer Base at this time we are sure it will suit your needs.
    Happy Easter!
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. We have not figured out if it is a summer home base or what yet, maybe a month or two during various seasons.

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  20. Too bad we missed each other, you and Steve have the same idea or wants in terms of size of property. It would have been a great conversation piece. Congratulations you found the one. Since it is 50 acre, perhaps you may install a few campsite with hook ups for friends, just saying.

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  21. Congrats on finding some property in such a beautiful area. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Maybe one day we'll get to visit you there.

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    1. It would be great to meet up with you guys again!

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