The Mount Rushmore State is home to seven National Park Service sites that range from jewel-encrusted caves to ancient fossil beds. Black Hills National Forest in the western side of the state covers an additional 1.2 million acres that spill over the border into Wyoming and hold the highest peak east of the Rockies. At about 71,000 acres, nearby Custer State Park is one of the largest state parks in the country and home to an annual buffalo roundup that offers a true taste of the American West. The Black Hills, often referred to as the “island in the prairie,” is a perfect spot to start your South Dakota camping trip!
Travelers looking to lounge lakeside will be pleased with the many camping options available near the region’s 17 lakes. With stunning rock formations reaching out from the water, Sylvan Lake is one of the area’s most iconic places to take a dip and do some South Dakota camping. Nearby, Horsethief Lake is tucked into the surrounding ponderosa pines, yet only two miles away from the ultimate road trip stop, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Those looking to pick up some speed can head north to Pactola Lake for a day of water skiing and a night of s’mores.
Prefer solitude? Strap on your backpack and hike the state’s 111-mile Centennial Trail, which provides a north to south taste of the Black Hills through prairie grasslands, dense forests, and high country terrain. Check with the different land management agencies along the way for specifics on where backcountry camping is allowed or where to find established campgrounds. Rather bike? The 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail runs parallel to the Centennial Trail and is a rails-to-trails, car-free dream.
South Dakota camping is for everyone, and whether you’re exploring by foot or by RV, you’ll be able to find the perfect place to rest your head. Private and public campgrounds near the town of Custer offer RV hookups, and are a quick drive to Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest in-progress mountain carving. Begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski at the request of Oglala Lakota Chief, Henry Standing Bear, this memorial is more than a work of art. It is a mission to preserve and honor the culture and tradition of Native Americans.
After camping on the island in the prairie, make sure to head east and watch the landscape roll into waves of grasslands before crashing into Badlands National Park. Head east farther still, and you’ll meet up with the mighty Missouri River. Use The Dyrt to find South Dakota camping options along the way that will open your eyes to the hidden beauties of the heartland.
We spent one night at this site. We were traveling through. First come, first spot. On our night, the coyotes were around camp after dark. And it was very dark outside! We had a pop-up and could hear and feel them going under our slide outs. The tenters that we saw in the morning were in their vehicles. Not sure if it was the coyotes or the freezing rain later in the night.
We plan to come back and spend a few days there to get some hiking in. Beautiful country!
Nice little campground mainly geared towards fishing. Heavy early morning traffic due to this being the only access to the lake for miles. Clean and well taken care of. Free showers that are well cared for with very hot water. Will be back!
Wonderful peaceful spot in the Southern Black Hills, close to all major attractions. Welcoming hosts, nice facilities and plenty of parking space.
Privately owned ranch setting with dispersed tent sites, 4 full RV hook-ups under huge old Willow Trees, 1 one-room camping log cabin for 2-3 people and 1 guestroom for 2 in the owners home.Toilet room with flush toilet and cold water sink, outdoor shower building for camping solar shower bags, hydrants with drinking water and electric outlets.Cabin and house guests may use one of the bathrooms/shower in our home.
Coffee and tea in the mornings is served on our large porch. There you find WiFi and electric outlets for charging your devices.
Free Parking in designated areas close to all the camp sites. Direct access to National Forest all around us.
There is an approved large fire pit for campfires, otherwise no other fires on the ground allowed. We normally have fire wood for sale here.
Close to Mt. Rushmore ,Crazyhorse, 1880's train ride, Sturgis and many more attractions. It would take a week to see everything. Kemps has nice restroom and shower facilities and a pool.
People are super nice. Easy access. Plenty of room. Very clean. Well shaded but they parked us perfectly so we could get Direct signal. Pool was out of service & mini golf was old. But we needed a site to sleep. Stayed three nights and toured the area.
The campsites are large and rustic. Modern amenities such as boat rentals are available, but I like the more natural camping experiences. We camped in late September, the leaves were turning and the air was crisp and cool. The wildlife is abundant. Pactola lake is deep and clean; the views are amazing and the water is very cold. The proximity to Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, and Spearfish make this a very nice camping destination.
Before leaving Devil's Tower we called and after several tries got someone who said they still had a few sites open for the off season. But she was very busy and about half an hour later returned the call but I was unavailable. In spite if an immediate call back no one answered, nor did they for the next 2 hours in spite of calling numerous times. When we got there, the office was open but no one around. Calling got me to their reservation service which tried several calls to them and could not reach anyone. Driving through the campground to turn around not sure I would want to stay. Tiny sites no shade. Convenient is about all it seems to offer.
Pease Creek Recreation Area is off the Missouri River out in the middle of nowhere but if you are a water/fishing person it is worth the drive for a quiet, laid back vacation.
South Dakota has some long straight roads and the GPS worked most of the time as well as cell phone signal. It would on occasion drop off so make sure you have your trusty map. The signage in was good and don’t be surprised when you hit gravel roads, just slow down ;)
The campground was pretty quiet and mostly deserted when we overnighted. It was dark, quiet and plenty of sites to choose from. Basic hook up, plenty of space to set up in, more of an RV geared campground. The area was well maintained but facilities could use an update/good cleaning.
Right outside the area is a privately owned campground that looked like it was expanding so that will add to the boatramp traffic and noise. It was more of a permanent RV area but may have short term rentals.
There was hiking to be had and horses were allowed but it’s definitely a water recreation area. Due to the weather , 40’s when we visited and raining we did not get to enjoy the water like I had wanted. Town is not nearby so fuel up and stock up before driving out!
Spent 10 days at Custer SP at the Stockade Lake South campground with our son and his family in July. Great site on the outside of the camping loop, with a great fire place and lots of room. We had our travel trailer and they had a tent and we had lots of room for 8. Deer walked through the site most afternoons. Convenient to Mt. Rushmore, Custer, the Black Hills, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave.
More then once as a Dyrt Ranger I have searched in vain for a campsite listed on a map. I was completely surprised when I found the Tyndall City Park AND it had places to camp!
When you first drive to the park it looks like your typical city park, nice fishing pond for the kids , cemented walking path, ballfields, disc golf, etc. But then down at the very end next to the ballfields are electric hookups and parking for RVs! Mind you this is no luxury campground, it’s the basics. On further exploration of the immediate area I came to the conclusion that this site is probably mostly used by visiting participants in 4H. There is a 4H complex across the street from the hookups.
The park is located off the local neighborhood and quiet. There is no shade at the RV sites. No picnic tables or fire rings on the cement lot where the electric boxes are located. This is definitely an event oriented “campground” or overnight/visiting relatives pit stop. There is an honor box and small latrine near the sites. No privacy if it’s busy but we were totally alone and saw few people when we visited.
The dogs enjoyed the walk around the fishing pond and it was a very relaxed atmosphere, at least to me. I did not attempt to start a fire, no one to ask if I could and no fire rings. There was a grass area by the camp sites with picnic tables and shade, you could easily put a tent/hammock in that area but I don’t know if it’s permitted.
Overall a useful area, in town, near shopping and fuel but not a vacation destination in my opinion.
We stayed here while road-tripping on our honeymoon in September. This campground maybe had 5 other campers here while we were here and it was AMAZING. We loved how empty it was. Our camper also backed up to the field behind the campground which was really nice. We got great views while laying in bed and even awoke to some deer looking at us!
The campground is very nice. It has restrooms that are kept extremely clean. The camp sites are not very private, however there are some trees that make the sites feel separated. Next to the stream are a few campsites. While we were here, the campground was pretty quiet. We were mostly only at our site at night to sleep so I cannot speak for during the day. Expect to see/hear wildlife coming and going through the campground throughout the night. Our dog grumbled at a few animals that might have gotten too close to the tent for her liking (we are pretty sure just deer). If I had one complaint about this campground it is that people do not seem to follow the keep dogs on leashes rule while they are at their campsite. I saw a lot of dogs wandering around. Our dog does not go after dogs and generally can care less about other dogs, until they get near her face so this concerned us a little. We let the owners near us know and they were very understanding and had no problem making sure their dogs stayed on leashes while we were there. Also, our campsite did not have a parking spot for our car. We had to just pull off onto the side of the road. This was not a huge issue as there was plenty of room for other vehicles to pass. The actual Game Lodge is right down the road. We got coffees and breakfast to go one morning and it was very good! There is an entrance to the park not far from the campground which made going to Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway, and Iron Mountain Highway convenient. Custer State Park is so nice! One drive around the park allows for amazing views and wildlife spotting! We loved our time here!
Great views, clean restrooms and showers, showers for a fee. Camping is on the roadside turnouts, and close together. If two larger units are on opposite sides of the road there is very little room to drive between them. Difficult to maneuver. We were there on September 25, with the campground about half full. I imagine that during peak season it would be really difficult to get around.
Very clean campground convenient to the interstate and sites in the northern Black Hills. There is a bit of traffic noise, but we didn’t find it objectionable. The owners are planting a vegetation buffer to alleviate this issue.
Nice locatuon a little ways southwest of MR. It was cold and rainy, so we left the tent packed up and got a cabin. Cooked over the campfire and enjoyed the dry warmth. It made packing up to head out the next day super easy too. Bathrooms/showers were clean.
Stayed here on the last night of a 2 week road trip. Didn't get in until very late but there was still a few sites open that you could pay for one entering the campground. Bathrooms were nice and clean and the campsites were solidly spread out. Our campsite was literally right next to the lake!
I love the Badlands for the amazing views and awesome hiking trails they have to offer. The Cedar Pass campground is a very nice and clean site to stay at. They have tent, group, RV and cabin sites plus there is a shelter covering a picnic table at every site, which is great because there is usually a ton of wind. Obviously, it is the Badlands so there aren’t any trees, so do not expect shade or much privacy from your neighbors.
Be aware that some of the sites will flood during rainy days so I would call ahead and see before you reserve if the weather is not going to be great. It can also get quite cool so just make sure you bring the sunscreen even in the cooler weather because the Sun will still get you. The facilities were pretty clean while I was here. There are showers and also a dish washing station that is very convenient. There is also a restaurant and store on site which is awesome if you need supplies or just some hot food and coffee.
Now the campsite is great but what makes this place golden is that it is in the Badlands National Park. They have some of the most amazing trails and you cannot beat the view of the night sky. You are miles away from city lights. I love bringing my telescope and walking a little ways from the campsite at night to set up. This is the perfect place for star gazing! The views at this place will want you wishing to come back for years to come!
Fun, open style campground. Heard distant coyotes at night, and woke up to bison strolling through in the morning. Make sure you have water, there is none available. If you can snag a spot, camp near one of the covered picnic tables. Amazing stargazing. Best of all, it is free!