Deadwood, South Dakota, is a glimpse into the Old West. The town’s Mount Moriah Cemetery houses the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, and the town’s streets were the site of Bill Hickok’s death.

Known for its lawlessness in the past, the town today boasts stunning scenery, beautiful historic buildings, rich Gold Rush history, and a wild western wilderness atmosphere. Here are the top Deadwood, SD campgrounds, where you can immerse yourself in the Deadwood experience, as well as some of the town’s historical highlights.

Broken Treaties and Violent Beginnings

wild bill hickok monument in deadwood

Sopotnicki /

The history of Deadwood traces back to the 1876 Black Hills Gold Rush. Named for dead trees that lined Deadwood Gulch where gold was found, the town experienced lawless, colorful, and violent beginnings.

The government expedition led by General Custer in 1875 to confirm the presence of gold did run counter to the Treaty of 1868 with the Lakota Sioux, which forever ceded the Black Hills to the Indigenous Nation.

The Lakota Sioux had inhabited the Black Hills and Great Plains area since the 1700s following a migration from Minnesota. Their fast horses, warrior societies, bison hunts, and graceful tipis became synonymous with the popular image of the continent’s Indigenous Nations.

A Landmark

Due to the town’s colorful history, Deadwood was named a historic landmark in 1961.

Just an hour south, Crazy Horse Memorial, a tribute to the Oglala Lakota Sioux warrior, is the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. Reports state that it will be the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Experiencing the Surrounding Wilderness

truck ddriving on road near deadwood

Pierre Jean Durieu /

If you’re camping near Deadwood, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hike, rock climb, and enjoy the local history. Classic climbs of all levels dot the landscape, and the Black Hills have famous hikes that take in scenic, panoramic vistas of hills and prairies.

Most people don’t often associate the Black Hills with boating opportunities. However, rivers, reservoirs, and lakes provide water-lovers with a chance to explore the lesser-seen places of the Black Hills area. Pactola Reservoir offers excellent boat rentals and camping opportunities.

Camping Near Deadwood

Here are some of the best Deadwood campgrounds in the area. All of them are located against the stunning backdrop of the Black Hills.

Days of 76 Campground

Named for the year Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head; this campground is located just three minutes outside of town.

Group camping, RV camping, tent camping, and equestrian camping are all available on-site. The campground is also famous as a rodeo location, complete with rodeo queen competitions and a rodeo museum. This is your ticket back in time to the days of the West.

With a sanitary dump station, water hookups and electric hookups, you’ll have everything you need to make your stay comfortable. The campground is open April through October. Call ahead for prices.

Whitetail Creek Resort

side by side images of campground and river

Images from the Dyrt camper by Brandy P.

This small, quiet campground is located just minutes away from Deadwood and offers cabins, group camping, RV sites, and tent sites, all of which are reservable. Fires, pets, and alcohol are permitted, and drinking water and firewood are available on the premises.

Stock up on camping supplies in Deadwood or visit the campground market for last-minute purchases. With showers, Wi-Fi, water hookups, phone service, electric hookups, trash service, and picnic tables, you will enjoy the perfect balance of creature comforts and the wilderness of the Black Hills.

Located right next to a creek and just minutes out of town, this is one of the best Deadwood SD campgrounds for exploring everything the area has to offer. Prices per night start at $25 and cabins are available for rental year-round.

Horsethief Lake Campground

Located an hour south of Deadwood, this campground can accommodate tents, RVs, and trailers. There are several walk-in and tent-only sites for those who want a slightly more secluded experience. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table, and vault toilets and drinking water are available at the campground. However, this is one of the few Deadwood SD campgrounds electrical hook-ups.

Wildlife abounds near this campsite, with elk, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, deer, pronghorn sheep, osprey, bighorn sheep, and hawks roaming the area. The Black Hills have numerous recreation opportunities, and Sylvan Lake is located only 11 minutes away from the site, southeast along SD-87. Boat rentals are available.

Custer State Park and Black Elk Peak are also close to Horsethief Lake Campground. The campground is open May 20 – September 27 in 2020. Prices run from $26 per night and up.

Palmer Gulch KOA

wideshot of koa campground main buildings and road

Image from the Dyrt camper Andrew P.

Open May 1-October 1, Palmer Gulch KOA is located an hour south of Deadwood and approximately 12 minutes away from Mount Rushmore. This is also one of the closest Deadwood, SD campgrounds to Reptile Gardens, where you can watch alligator wrestling and learn about snakes, crocodiles, and lizards. Custer State Park and Black Elk Peak are also nearby.

Palmer Gulch KOA is ADA accessible and offers reservable sites, a market, firewood for sale, phone service, and Wi-Fi. With cabins, dispersed camping, group camping, regular tent sites, RV sites, and equestrian sites, you’ll have plenty of options at this campground.

The site offers showers, water hookups, electric hookups, trash service, and picnic tables. Alcohol and pets are permitted. Call ahead for prices as they vary throughout the year.

Sylvan Lake Campground

One of eight campgrounds in Custer State Park, this campground offers drive-in, walk-in, and boat-in sites. Minutes away from Mount Rushmore, Reptile Gardens, and Crazy Horse Memorial, this campground is situated right next to a beautiful lake. Rock walls line the lake, and boat rentals are just a few minutes’ walk away.

This campground features ADA-accessible sites and offers reservable sites, a market, firewood for sale, showers, picnic tables, water hookups, electric hookups, trash service, phone service, and Wi-Fi. Alcohol and pets are permitted.

With cabins, tent cabins, dispersed camping, group camping, regular tent sites, RV sites, and equestrian sites, you’ll find many options for your stay. Open May 13 through September 30, tent sites are $15 per night per unit tent, and sites with electric hookups are $30 per unit.

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