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Wind Cave National Park, SOUTH DAKOTA

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Camping South Dakota Wind Cave National Park
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Most Recent Wind Cave National Park Camping Reviews
Fine place to camp last minute

We were looking for a campground in the area for a same day reservation on a Friday. We called in the early evening and they still had some spots left, very friendly staff. The forecast predicted some rain, so we wanted to find a campground that had some roofed structures at each site. The roofed shelters at each site don't cover the tent area, but we were able to connect our tarp to the side of the shelter and spread it over our tent for some extra protection from the wet. It worked really well. The campground has shower onsite for no extra charge, they were very clean and functional. The drinking water tasted strongly of chlorine to us, which was unfortunate. Another downside is that the sites are quite close together and not very scenic, so the experience feels more like a  place for vacationing families.

Good site

Free dispersed camping is nice. Fire is not allowed. I had issues with the tent pad being about a foot too short for my tent (3 person tent) but that's more a personal issue. It was a pretty busy spot while the sun is out. We definitely had an intense hail/thunderstorm so ended up sleeping half the night in the car. Where nice places for morning hikes.

Basic and convenient campsite

Stayed here one night on my way to Mt. Rushmore. The actual campground is open late Oct-April I think. But there are 5-6 sites outside the access gate to use when it’s not open. Has a pit toilet that was clean. Easy place to stop for the night.

Eclectic mix for just about anyone

This campground is right next to the road and is only 3 miles from Crazy Horse and a few miles from the town of Custer. It makes it easy to hop on and off the highway (which also makes it a bit loud). It is a perfect spot to be able to get to Crazy Horse for Sunrise or if Sylvan State Park is full and you are trying to find a site nearby (our situation). 

Sites include, picnic table, fire pit. Showers are hot and free to campers. However you should wear shower shoes in them. 

There is also a heated pool and a laundry room. 

Tent Sites: 5 People per site,$25 per night 

RV Sites:$50 per site 

There are also cabins and a deck house that fits more people.

Great Stopover for Late Night Drives

We were in and out late night and early morning so we didn't get to see it in the daylight but it fit the bill for an overnight stop. 

Nice grassy spots next to the highway. 

Not a lot of privacy.

$20 a night. 

Pit toilet bathrooms, fire rings and picnics tables.

Ranger Review: Banner and Oak Mug at Sylvan Lake Campground

Campground review: This lake is amazing! It makes the busyness of the road and the cost of the state park. We were staying there for a day and had to pay for a 7 day pass which was$20 just to enter the park. The campground is across the road from the lake and it is the perfect distance to there in about 2-3 mins.

 The sites are well covered but the campground is right next to the road so it is a bit loud on busy weekends. The general store at the lake was basically empty when we were there because it was a busy weekend but typically it is stocked with food and basic essentials. 

Gear review: As a ranger we often get to review fun gear! This trip I was able to bring along the Steel Camping Mug from Banner and Oak. 

https://bannerandoak.com/collections/gear-we-love/products/steel-camper-mug-white 

This mug is perfect for a casual campground mug. It radiates the temperature of the drink so be careful with hot beverages. The design on it is perfect for starting the day with the intention of trying something new! It holds about 8 oz of liquid. 

The one thing I would be aware of is the lip on the mug. It is a bit of a dip on the underside so if you don’t drink out of it just right, it will spill down your chin.

Ranger Review: Eclipse Solstice Cover Up at Cold Brook Lake Campground

Campground Review: This location is great if you are looking to be close to Hot Springs, Wind Cave, and Custer State park. It is located just north of town and just South of Wind Cave’s entrance. The campground itself is very exposed and the spots are lacking of shade. You are in a canyon like area so if you get one of the side spots, you will have shade starting in the early afternoon. 

The sites are spaced far enough apart where you feel a tiny bit of seclusion and there is plenty of space to put multiple tents on flat ground. It is in a red wall canyon so be careful of being too loud because sound travels. The lake has a large and beautiful swim beach and is perfect for a day on the water. 

There are bathrooms down by the swim beach, a boat launch, and picnic tables. It is a great lake for fishing. We were snagging them left and right. And contrary to the name, it was perfect temps to take a dip in. There are two campsites right on the lake but you need to snag them in advance. They apparently book up fast. 

The sites are only $10 a night and there is no camp host. However, the bathrooms do get regularly cleaned and the sites are well maintained. The campground is in really good shape. Nice grass and clean fire rings and picnic tables. There is also a large shaded picnic table area where you can have gatherings. 

Gear Review:

 As a Dyrt Ranger, sometimes we get the honor of being able to review gear! This campground I decided to break out my Eclipse Solstice Sun protection shirt. 

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/frontpage/products/solstice-beach-cover-up

It helped me feel protected by the sun but yet, was a light enough material to be able to move freely while paddleboarding. I like the finger design to cover the back of your hand too. Most shirts only have the thumb hole but this one has elastic around the middle of the hand to put around the middle finger to keep the back of your hands protected too. The downside to this design is the outline. It kind of just drapes over you like a poncho, so there is no real fashion design around it. The pinched sides let air flow in and out easily but also make it a bit complicated to get into. I got caught a lot in the middle gap while just trying to throw it on.

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! 

https://eclipseglove.com/collections/all-eclipse-sun-products/products/sun-sleeves 

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.

Feels Like Home

I stayed at Broken Arrow for 10 days in my A frame camper(no horses), and all I can say is“wow”. The bathrooms are clean and beautiful and the sites are very well maintained and level. They even have lights on the site signs to help when you get there late. There is coffee for you in the office, and also a small store. But the very best thing about Broken Arrow is the owners. Dan happily greeted me when I walked in with a“Julie’s here!”. By the end of my 10 days, it felt like I was leaving family. I’ve already made my reservation for next year. If you are lucky enough to find open availability, take it. You won’t regret it.

Nice small park with lots of trees

The park is conveniently located between Custer and the Custer State Park. Good sized lots and 50 amp full hook ups.

Several remote electric only sites, and many tent sites.

Great large RV park

The park has not only multiple pull throughs, but most sites handle a 45 foot coach with ample room for the toad.

Just far enough off the hiway to be quiet during even bike week, and super clean.

Very convenient to the state park and Custer and forestry roads for hiking or 4 wheeling.

Just what I was looking for

Fantastic little place with sites that but up to a beautiful creek.

Great place to visit surrounding areas.

Much older campground. Combination of Sleeping Cabins to full size cabins. Many tent sites with a Tenters Kitchen nearby. 

Washrooms are kept clean.

Combination of sites available, electric and full hookups with 50 amps.

Volunteers are polite and helpful. Owners Dave and Nancy will make your stay wonderful. 

Dogs are allow contrary to the web site which is under-constructions with better information. 

Owners are currently working on the sites to allow many more bigger DP. 

Many places to hike and visit the National Wonders. 

We stayed 2 mths.

Great place

Very friendly helpful staff. Decent restrooms that were kept clean. Small playground area for the kids. We had a tent site on the end of a small rv loop just behind some cabins but it was perfect and convenient to the bath house. Some more remote sites for tents in the distance looked nice if you want to carry your gear in. Convenient to town and to Custer state park.

Free camping spot

There’s dispersed camping here with quite a few pad options. It’s a quiet place with a lot of very cool hiking trails off of the camp site. The tent spots are all very reasonably close to the parking lot so even if you want to walk off a bit to place your tent it won’t be much of a burden or hassle to set up. I got a spot out off the parking space far enough to not be bothered by anyone’s lights and to get a really nice view of the stars as I went to bed. A wonderful spot to have a night of sleep that’s so close to Rushmore you can walk there if you don’t want to pay for parking.

Nice campground without hookups

We stayed September 5-9 . It was peaceful & enjoyed our stay. This campground has no hook ups. Most of the campground was closed except for about 10 sites. They stay open for hunters & fall campers. It was 20 a night which is spendy for no hook ups or comfort stations.The have vaulted toilet & water for personal use not for camper.We hiked around the lake & kayaking and fishing.

Camp among the ponderosa pines

Beautiful site on the lake. Vault toilets, not the cleanest but expected. Came in September and was very open. First come first serve. Had a nice dinner at Alpine Inn in Hill City (they only have two menu options FYI)…. love!

Spectacular views and solitude at hike in sites

Great site in the Black Hills. Book early to get a good site. The hike in sites are recommended if you don't want neighbors. We were at site 17 - a hike in site - felt almost like we were in the wilderness, but flush toilets and a full service lodge and camp store within walking distance. We were there in July with few mosquitoes and low humidity. Great stargazing. This is higher altitude than most of Custer State Park, so lots of huge boulders and pine trees.

On the Wildlife Loop

We really enjoyed Custer State Park, and this was a nice campground.

Where the Buffalo Roam

Opened the door to my cabin to see a bison one hundred yards away.

Nice Cabins!

This place was super clean and the two older ladies at the front desk where extremely nice. The showers where hot and not really busy ( We stayed here in July). This was close to Custers Park and about twenty minutes from Rapid City. Will definitely be back!

One of the only places to stay late in the year that has full hookups.

Small place on a little lake. Couldn’t really walk around the lake because of all the goose poop. Did have full hookups still in late October. Clean showers and bathrooms. Urban feel.

Cute spot, close to Mt Rushmore!

Smaller campground. Clean showers and bathrooms. Close to town but feels like you are out in the mountains. A dinner train does go by and blows the horn, but not too disturbing.

Nice Spot

We found this place after we couldn’t get the dispersed camping thing processed in our brains!

RV friendly as well as tent friendly. There are hot showers and clean bathrooms. The wife saw a laundry facility on property. They have a small pantry in the office Incase you find yourself needing something. You can tell the property is well maintained.

I gave 4/5 stars due to the close proximity to the main road. At night there really isn’t much traffic. However in the morning we woke up to the sound of constant vehicles.

We would definitely come back though!

Beauty Abounds At This Park

Passing through South Dakota rests a very unique park unlike any other you will find.    The Wind Cave National Park in its own right is emoting of great majesty, a unique preserved ecosystem in the midst of a world which has moved in and managed to destroy so much of the grassy prairie lands through development.    Passing into the park is passing into a piece of history.   

While the cave itself is something of a wonder, the park itself is a ground which should also be noted.     It is a place where wild bison roam free, elk pass through and can be found thriving, prairie dogs bark adamantly and so many more unique native animals and plants can be observed and appreciated.

It is in this area that you will find Elk Mountain Campground.     

When I drove through this area I wasn't sure what to expect.   The rolling prairie plains were beautiful however did not offer much in way of shade and that somewhat concerned me as I drove closer and closer to camp, however the world began to roll as hills turned and transitioned into a forest of wonder and lush green grasses.   

The campground looked like a different world from the world which I had been driving in coming from Hot Springs.     Tall trees shaded sites and provided a soft bed for tent campers, large pull ins offered RVs options for a variety of sizes and styles of camping.    Each site was adorned with the standard fire rings and picnic tables and depending on your desire you could stay in a location which was completely shaded or had sun exposure.

Bathrooms here are flush toilets with running water, including a wash basin room for dishes and though there were not showers it didn't seem to be an inconvenience with all the beauty around.

Group sites offered large grassy knolls and in some cases pavilions for use and with winding paths around camp to differentiate the loops through sites were close together they seemed to have privacy.

Although this campground does have an honor box there is also a campground host which does keep track of campers and park rangers patrol throughout the day and evening to ensure safety.     This makes for a very secure feeling camp in such a unique location.

TIPS:

  • If visiting call ahead to see if the cave is open.   When I visited the elevators were not operating and this limited access to the cave itself.
  • Try hiking in the park, unlike many parks which only allow trail hiking this park encourages you to explore fully.
  • Keep your distance from wildlife.    Wildlife is wild here even if it looks tame they are not!!  Bison can run up to 35 miles per hour and most incidents with the wildlife occur from people trying to encroach upon the animals for photos.
Secluded and Beautiful

If you’re willing to invest 45 minutes to go down a bumpy 8 mile dirt road the reward will be seclusion and beauty. 9 lonely campsites situated next to Castle Creek surrounded by hills and Lodgepole Pines and wildflowers. There is a clean vault toilet but no potable water so bring your own or be prepared to filter. About 16 miles out of Hill City well worth the trouble. The directions on the USDA website are accurate. Every campsite is next to the flowing creek. Campsites come with a picnic table fire ring (plenty of wood around) and a level campsite. We were there early September and no one was there!

Cozy Creekside Cabin

Impressed with the cleanliness of the cabins and bathhouses at this campground. Easy driving access to Custer State Park offerings. The creek next to the cabins made for a relaxing background and respite from the sun.

Amazing

Awesome camp ground very clean and very friendly. Hand cooked breakfast you can buy in the morning with big burritos that were awesome!! Can’t wait to stay there again.

First to Review
Fantastic Place to Stay in the Black Hills

This was a great small campground to stay at when we were in the area visiting Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.  The owners are very nice and accommodating and the wolves are so cool!  The bar/restaurant area was great and the prices were very reasonable.  The shower/bathroom area was clean.  If you are looking for a great place to camp that is close to Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park look no further.

Solid campground

Very spacious campground that, according to the ranger, has filled to capacity maybe three times in the last decade. I got in during the evening and found a great spot up from the road on a small hill. I imagine it would’ve been hot during the day because there was no shade there, but good for just one night I figured. Unfortunately, a t-storm rolled through around 2am (my fault for not checking the weather before - no service here - nor did I check the bulletin board for weather) and I figured it was best to move my tent to the wooded area. Not fun to do in the middle of the night but at least I staked it back in about ten seconds before the storm reached me (next 1.5 hours was rough though).

The wind cave itself was closed for exploring while I was there which was too bad. A knock on the park, though, not the campsite. Was right around the corner from the visitor center/cave entrance otherwise which is convenient.