Bowman campground gets renovations after more than four decades

IT’S CAMPING TIME—Butte View Campground in Bowman recently received some major upgrades to their hook ups. They can now accomodate modern campers and RVs. (Pioneer Photo by Cole Benz)

After more than 40 years, the Butte View Campground in Bowman received some improvements to their facilities.

By Cole Benz
Pioneer Editor

Director of Bowman Parks and Recreation Chanell Walby told the Pioneer that three years ago they embarked on a mission to upgrade the individual camp sites with the hope of attracting more campers to the Bowman area.

At the time, the campgrounds had sites that were only accessible by backing your campers or RV into the spot, and the highest power outage offered was 110 watts, something Walby said hadn’t been updated since the 1970s.

Walby, who started in her position four years ago after managing a campground at the Ellsworth Air Force Base, said that the real start of the update began when they implemented camp hosts—campers willing to take care of the campsites and greet would-be campers—in exchange for free camping.

“I knew that to make a campground run better it was good to have camp hosts, somebody onsite at the location,” she said. “And we didn’t have it, it was more of an honor system.”

Labella and Tom Campbell have been in that post the past three camping seasons.

“We got some really great feedback from our camp hosts,” Walby said.

What Walby learned was that people would drive through the campground and leave before stopping, because of the lack of power. When they would see that the sites offered only 110 watt hook ups—not to mention a lack of full sewer and water hook ups—they would take the loop and drive out.

“They would keep going down the road,” Walby said.

So she thought, if you build it, they will come.

A year after she started with the department, Walby began making calls, applying for grants, and organizing the project.

All told, they estimated the updating to be $100,000, with the end cost approaching closer to the $118,000 mark.

But the department received a $50,000 fifty-fifty match grant from the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation. Matching the funds to complete the grant was Bowman County ($50,000), the City of Bowman ($5,000), Tax and Tourism ($5,000), and Bowman Parks and Rec coming up with remaining balance.

“There [were] no loans,” Walby said.

So with the money, the department was able to update the campsites with either 50 or 30 amp power output, and turned all the sites into a pull-through approach. Sixteen of the sites were also upgraded to full hookups (full access to sewer and water services).

“We can accommodate modern RVs and campers,” Walby said.

The hope is that the campground renovations will allow visitors to stay multiple nights instead of just one. And hopefully add to the local economy with food, fuel, and shopping sales.

“We want to attract people to come to Bowman, and to keep them here longer,” she said “So if we provide full hookups they might stay more than one day, they might stay two or three days.”

Walby said Bowman is in a unique location, sitting in between the Black Hills, and Medora, and essentially on the path to Canada from the southern plains.

“We get a lot of traffic through Bowman, so we’re an ideal location to come to promote and to have [the updates],” she said.

This improvement should be a long investment for the campground with Walby telling the Pioneer that “this is going to take us a long way.”

She did say that future projects may include improvements to the old septic system, which the shower house operates off of, and perhaps renovating the shower house itself.

“They’re 40-some years old, and they need some attention,” she said.

But for the time being, she is happy with the improvement, and was very thankful to all of the entities that made it possible.

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