Standard (tent/RV)
RV Sites
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Drinking Water
About Bismarck Lake

Bismarck Lake Campground is set amidst a scattering of aspen groves and Ponderosa pine on the southeast edge of Bismarck Lake at 5,000 feet. This is a great place for visitors seeking recreation and relaxation in the Black Hills National Forest. Acess to this campground is through Custer State Park near the West Highway 16A entrance. Sites in the campground are widely spaced and open up to views of lakes, providing adequate privacy for visitors.


The forest offers accessible recreation for all ages and abilities. Visitors can take advantage of opportunities for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and riding off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on moderate terrain. At the campground, a short foot trail traverses the forested shoreline, offering opportunities for birding in early morning or picnicking in the afternoon. For those seeking higher elevations, a day-long trek to the summit of nearby Black Elk Peak is worth the effort. Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Most of the summit is bare granite and offers expansive views of the surrounding area. An old stone tower (Harney Lookout Tower) at the top, once used as a fire lookout, is still open to hikers. Adjacent to the campground is Bismarck Lake, an ideal spot for fishing and boating. The lake supports populations of rainbow and brown trout, a variety of sunfish, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and catfish.


Bismarck Lake Campground has sites able to accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs. The campground has picnic tables, campfire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water; however, electrical hook-ups are not available. Access to the lake is within walking distance.

Natural Features

Located in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, Black Hills National Forest encompasses nearly 1.25 million acres of rugged rock formations, canyons and gulches, open grassland parks, tumbling streams, deep blue lakes, and unique caves.

Derived from the Lakota language, the words "Paha Sapa," meaning "hills that are black," honor the dark, pine-covered hills rising several thousand feet above the surrounding prairie.

Wildlife in the area abounds. Bighorn sheep navigate mountainous terrain, while elk, deer and pronghorn gather in forests and prairies. Bald eagles, hawks, osprey, peregrine falcon, and hundreds of other bird species can be found in the forest, especially along streams, lakes and rivers.

Nearby Attractions

Possible day trips include Jewel Cave National Monument, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument and Wind Cave National Park.

Charges & Cancellations

No refunds will be given for weather or related events.

ADA Access: N

National Forest
Drive In
Walk In
Boat In
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Trash Available
Water Hookups
No WiFi
Bismarck Lake is located in South Dakota
43.7819 N
-103.5158 W
Get Directions
In Custer, SD, at the intersection of State Rt. 89/US Rt.16A (Mt.Rushmore Rd) and US Rt. 16/US Rt. 385 (5th St.), take US Rt.16A east for 4.8 miles (past Custer State Park entrance) to Bismarck Lake campground sign. Turn left at sign into campground.
5 Reviews of Bismarck Lake
Ranger Review: Eclipse Sun Sleeves at Bismarck Lake Campground

Campground Review: 

I chose this campground when I was looking up a quieter campground near Custer State Park. And it turned out to be the perfect spot for what we needed. It was centrally located in the Black Hills. About 10 mins down the road from the town of Custer. We camped in site 4 which was a lovely site literally just up the hill from the lake. It was a 2 min walk to the bathroom in either direction. The site was a bit rocky and hard to find a good place to put a tent but would be perfect for an RV. We were able to place a couple tents and hammocks to sleep in but if we had a larger tent we wouldn’t have found a spot in our site for a tent. The lake was perfect. 

There is a boat ramp to be able to put in kayaks, paddle-boards, or any other non motorized vessels. The lake is the perfect size to paddle away and feel like you have escaped society for a few minutes. The campground was secluded enough to where you didn’t see and hear all the other campers. The bathrooms were well taken care of and the camp hosts were lovely and very accommodating. 

The site was$26 a night with a$2 per pet per night fee. You can buy firewood from the camp hosts for $5 a bundle. 

Gear Review: 

As a Dyrt Ranger, we sometimes get the chance to review gear. This trip we were able to test out Eclipse Sun Sleeves. We do a lot of fishing and we are constantly worried about keeping our arms protected without getting sunscreen into the water supply or being over heated. These sleeves worked out perfectly for both of those reasons! 

They stayed upright and didn’t roll down while moving around. The material was lightweight and quickdry. The fingers are halfway covered so it made it easy to maneuver with rods in hand. UPF 50+, reliably blocks 98%+ of UVA and UVB rays, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic. We were both able to wear the same size sleeves and they didn’t stretch out the whole weekend.

Amazing place

Really nice forest service site with a beautiful lake, trout, trails and solitude.


Go! Great little hide out. Shade everywhere, beautiful lake. No mosquitoes. Don't be discouraged by the no showers, when you pay to get into Custer State Park you're able to use their showers.

Jewel in the Black Hills!

This National Forest campground is directly across the 2-lane "highway" from Custer State Park, a beautiful park with several campgrounds, vintage lodges and cabins, lovely small lakes and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife (we saw bison -- of course! -- mountain goats, wild burros, deer, and turtles).  Bismarck Lake campground is small and quiet (except for generators until 10 pm --- grrrr!) with several really beautiful sites.  There is water and the vault toilets were super clean.  We were in Site 2, one of the worst (right next to the campground road with a slope down to the picnic table/fire pit), but it was still pretty nice.  The best sites are 4, 5 and 8 which all have lake views; 6 and 7 which are next to each other on a large rock outcrop, with graded sites for tents -- they are close together though; and 21 (20 on one map) which is in a meadow all by itself (the and Forest Service maps of the campground have numbered the sites differently; both show site 8 on the wrong side of the road).  There is a good graded path down to the lake, a sweet bridge over the dammed part of it, and a boardwalk around one side of it.  The lake is gorgeous -- so beautiful at dusk.  Across the highway in Custer State Park is Stockade Lake, which has its own little beach and a playground.  Stockade Lake South Campground has free showers (you have to pay a $20-per-car one-time fee  to get into and use any/all the facilities in Custer State Park -- totally worth it as there is so much to do!).  Mt. Rushmore is just over a half-hour away; the Badlands are about 1 1/2 hours.  Custer is a pretty cute little town (as opposed to Keystone, near Mt. Rushmore, which is a true tourist trap) with a good little grocery store (Lynn's DakotaMart) and an Ace Hardware, as well as a GREAT pie shop/bakery/cafe.

First to Review
Natural and Beautiful

Beautiful camp sites. They are mostly gravel so pack a nice sleeping pad or blow up mattress. The pit toilets were very clean and the water spouts were plentiful. Many of the sites have natural rock formations as natural boundaries of the site. Many tent camp sites have raised platforms to pitch your tent. There is a small trail around the lake that was lovely in the evenings. The lake is very quiet and great for fishing or kayaking.