This tent-only campground lies beneath a canopy of oak and Ponderosa pine on the banks of Grizzly Creek. The site has retained much of its original Civilian Conservation Corps character, and offers visitors recreation and relaxation in Black Hills National Forest. Located along the Iron Mountain Road, it is between Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park. A pavillion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps still stands and is available for use by campers.
Black Hills National Forest offers visitors a multitude of recreational opportunites throughout all seasons. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and riding off-highway vehicles are popular in summer and early autumn. The winter landscape is ideal for snowshoeing, skiing and snowmobiling. From a nearby trailhead, visitors can access the Centennial Trail and parts of the Black Elk Wilderness and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve. Trails weave through the wilderness for a primitive, non-motorized recreation experience. 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.
Grizzly Creek is a tent-only campground. Due to tight, sharp turns, towing vehicles are prohibited in this campground. This includes vehicles towing trailers and fifth-wheels, motorhomes towing vehicles, and vehicles towing pop-up campers. Vehicles up to 28 feet maximum are allowed. No overflow parking available. The campground has picnic tables, campfire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. Electrical hook-ups are not available. Firewood is available for a fee.
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. This campground is located in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and is close to the Black Elk Wilderness, South Dakota's only designated wilderness area. This area encompasses the Harney Range, an area long held sacred by American Indians. 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.
Explore Mount Rushmore National Memorial, host to almost 3 million visitors a year from across the country and around the world. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the birth, growth, development and the preservation of the United States, and take in the beauty of South Dakota's Black Hills.
Nearby Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world at 159.29 miles. It features sparkling calcite crystals and other rare formations, as well as some of the largest concentrations of passageways in the world.
Other possible day trips include Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument and Wind Cave National Park.
ADA Access: N
We stayed at the campgrounds for two nights while visiting the Black Hills in early August. We stayed for a Friday and Saturday night. The campgrounds are tucked back in the woods which makes for a beautiful morning, though because it's located off a pretty busy road it's probable that it may not be as quiet during more busy seasons of the year. The camp hosts are very kind and helpful and can gladly recommend local sites depending on the visitors interests.
The campgrounds is located about 5 minutes from Mount Rushmore and is a great central point for other popular sites, such as the Black Elk Wilderness, Custer Park or either Wind Cave National Park or Jewel Cave National Monument.
Despite being out in the woods, the campsites are located very close to each other meaning that if you're stuck next to three noisy men, as we were, you're going to hear their entire conversation about car engines and their friend Mike's relationship with his wife.
This place was so serene. So many beautiful trees. Just a few miles from Mount Rushmore. A nice little stream runs along one side. The road to get there is narrow and winding, but wasn’t too long. No showers, but the vault toilets were clean. It does say primitive. I felt so at peace camping here. Large spaces.
The campground boasts 20 sites but a 1/3rd of them are Day use only. Half are by reservation and only 3 are first come, first served. It was a lovely spot, easy to access and the camp hosts were very nice. A creek runs by the campground and there are several trails for hiking, including one across the main road that goes pretty much straight up a hill but offers an incredible view of Mt Rushmore.
No Rvs are allowed but if you are camping in a van (or Jeep in my case) you fit in just fine. There are lots of trees appropriately distanced for hammocking.
There are no showers at the campground but you can head into Keystone (7 min drive) and there are showers in town.
overall it was a very nice campground. right off iron Mountain road, which is cool but can be noisy with motorcycle traffic. there was also helicopter noise every single day starting at 9 and a new one would come through about every 15-20 minutes. however, both helicopter and motorcycle traffic stopped come night fall. the vault toilet stunk pretty bad, but we camped right next to one and didn’t have any foul wind come our way, it’s just going into them to use when you’ll have problems. very nice and shady campground. don’t let smell and noise steer you away. it’s absolutely beautiful and the hosts are nice too!
Let me start by saying the campground itself is beautiful! There was plenty of shade and the creek provided nice ambiance. However, don't camp here if you want some peace and quiet! Iron Mountain Road runs right by and it a popular with motorists and motorcyclists. Also, starting a 9am until probably 6pm there are helicopter tours for Mount Rushmore and it flies right over the campground. We used this spot as a jump off point for all our adventures so we weren't bothered too much by the noise as we were gone for much of the day.
Our only other complaint is that the vault toilets smelled terrible. I know they're not supposed to smell like roses, but we've experienced many other vault toilets that we "pleasant" and we rarely saw a fly. These would have flies swarming as you used the facilities and we could often smell the toilets from our site. I'm not sure if the treatment is different in SD, as we're from CO, but this was out biggest complaint.
High point is that you're only 5 to 10 minutes from Rushmore and close to Custer State Park and it was an easy jumping point for many other destinations.
One more note…more of a soapbox speech…the Vermont people next to us were terrible campers and broke all the basic etiquette camping rules. They washed dished in the creek, they bathed at the water pumps and left trash and food all over their site and in the fire pit when they left. This is NOT ok. Camping involves a very high level of respect for nature and if you can't follow leave no trace rules, you shouldn't be out there!