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Fires Allowed
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About Elk Mountain Campground

This 61-site campground is open all year with sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Two sites are handicap-accessible. Flush toilets and drinking water are available late spring through early fall. Fees are half-price when water is not available. Ranger programs are offered nightly in the amphitheater during the summer. Two group campsites are reservable. Contact the park at 605.745.4600 for more information.

Price
$18.00
Operator
National Park Service
Access
Drive In
Hike In
Features
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Toilets
Trash Available
Water Hookups
Location
Elk Mountain Campground is located in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota
Latitude
43.5653 N
Longitude
-103.4892 W
Get Directions
Directions
The Elk Mountain Campground is located about 11 miles north of Hot Springs, or 22 miles south of Custer, off U.S. Hwy 385, about 1/2 mile west of the highway. Follow the link below for detailed directions to the visitor center; the campground entrance is approximately 1/4 mile north of the visitor center.
24 Reviews of Elk Mountain Campground
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.
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.

Pleasant Stay

I arrived in August 2019 to find the caves closed until September. I was very disappointed as coming back wasn't an option. I did camp at Elk Mountain--you find your site and then reserve it. There are few options for sites that aren't in the sun. Although according to the ranger the camp doesn't fill up, I would recommend getting your site early to ensure some shade. Bathrooms are nice and clean. No showers (at least where I was). Pleasant stay overall.

Campground on the Prairie

Really spacious campground with plenty of spots. Didn’t feel as crowded or too close to each other like a lot of other national park campgrounds. The Elk Mountain Campground is conveniently located to the visitor center and cave entrance. The Elk Mountain hike starts at the campground and is a nice little hike to do before you settle in for the night.

The sounds of nature surround you

Simple campgrounds in Wind Cave National Park. The campground was well maintained and in great condition. The location can't be best as you're only 1 mile from the visitor's center and central to the park.

There is a hiking path nearby that gets you up so you can view the amazing area surrounding you. We heard lots of animals through the night and loved it.

Our only complaint was that the lights from the very simple bathrooms were so bright at night they ruined our night vision. Do not choose a site near the bathrooms.

Really beautiful

The campground is secluded and quiet. You can see the bison as you come into camp if you’re lucky. There was also a wild turkey that was wandering around the whole time we were there

Clean and beautiful!

We loved this camp site! The surroundings were beautiful, and the bison were just outside the gate in the morning. Clean bathrooms and attentive host. They had a campfire program with the rangers the night we were there, but we already had a good fire going and didn't want to leave it unattended. Very close to Wind Caves!! Get there before 10am to book a tour… Business picked up about then.

buffalo!

Nice place to stay if you are looking for first-come first serve sites!  The campground wasn't very busy which was nice because the sites were not overly secluded. Kinda a grassland area, but since it wasn't too busy and we were in the tent area it was a good fit for just the night.

The main attraction for visiting this park was a cave and cave tour- awesome!  Highly recommended :)  I actually retained a decent amount of the information we learned!  The tour was through but they kept it fun as well.  We were pleasantly surprised to see a plethora of bison (when we were in Custer that had rounded them all up so seeing them in the wild was nice!) 

*remember to wear something warm if you are doing a cave tour- it's chilly down there!

Nice campsite

Nice quite campground with bathrooms close to beautiful hiking trails

Peaceful Prairie Camping

The campground rarely fills up which means there’s no rush to get there. Because you’re in the rolling grasslands there is little seclusion between campsites but sites are spaced far enough that you still have some privacy. Great views of the nearby hills and spectacular evening and morning light! Wind caves is also an easy day’s drive from the Badlands and well worth getting off the main routes westward.