9 Best Camping Sites in South Dakota

With beautiful buttes, scenic lakes, swaying prairies and colorful woodlands South Dakota provides plenty of landscapes where you can visit. The campgrounds are well spread out in South Dakota. If you are choosing between the places to camp you have many options including forests, national parks, private campgrounds, and state parks. It will all depend on what kind of experience you want.

If you want an RV adventure there are several electric campgrounds that have different facilities for you to choose from. What’s more, visitors that are looking for lakeside lounging will enjoy the many camping grounds that are found in the 17 lakes in the region. There are many stunning rock formations that reach out from the amazing waters. For those who are speed enthusiasts you will have fun at Pactola Lake and enjoy water skiing with friends. 

If you are a private person and want as much privacy as possible then South Dakota is the place to be with many trails that will take you through hills and forests. Before you pack up and ran to visit the great state of South Dakota, check out some of the best camping site and make your trip memorable.

1. Wrinkled Rock Campground

© Nora S. / The Dyrt

If all you can think of is climbing then you should visit the Wrinkled Rock Campground. The site is found 1.7 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Where as it is against the law to climb on Mount Rushmore Sculpture, there are other climbing opportunities within the public lands that surround the national memorial.

Hikers will get information en route to the Mount Rushmore Information Center or the Lincoln Borglum Museum. If you are here for camping it is among the best places for tent camping but not so much for RVs and large vehicles. Many of the campsites in the area have toilets but there are no any other amenities, so you should bring all necessities that you need. The campground is considered as a dispersed camp and it allows a maximum stay of 2 weeks and visiting the campground is free of charge.

The place experiences heavy winds mostly in the afternoons and it this make it essential you attach your tent firmly in the ground to avoid it being blown away. Every weekend there are presentations that take place at the amphitheater. Other recreational activities include a walk on the seven-mile Loop Road that acts as the main connection point between all the main caving and hiking at Wrinkled Rock Campground.

2. Palisades State Park Campground

© South Dakota Game, Fish, And Parks

The defining monument at Palisades Campground is the towering Pink Sioux Quartzite and is found on the shores of Split Rock Creek. The Park provides visitors one of the best environments to explore the eastern parts of South Dakota. Once you are in this area you will have fun hiking the Creekside trails. 

The trail is rocky and you need to come wearing the right gear to avoid injury. Moreover, for beginners you need to be very careful and are advised to have a guide. But for those with experience it is the best place to hike with your colleagues.

If you plan to spend the night at Palisade there are 37 campsites from where you can choose from depending on if you want an electric and non-electric sites. Additionally, you have to decide whether you want tent-only or RV-accessible campsites. All the campsites and the cabins share communal toilets and a centrally placed water point.

What makes the campground most appealing is its proximity to the many attractions in the states park. The creek is a short distance away and you can comfortably walk and spend the whole day exploring the natural beauty in the area.

3. Comanche Park Campground

© Art S. / The Dyrt

Comanche Park Campground is located on the South Side of Highway 16. It is a quick 10-minute drive to get to the town of Custer. Locals in the area know the town as the foodie capital of the region. While you are here you should make sure you visit the place and enjoy the delicacies of the different restaurants. 

If you are looking for something fancy and want to tag your date along make reservations at Sage Creek Grille or Skogen Kitchen. If you want something casual visit the Black Hills Burger and Bun or The Custer Wolf. The food there never disappoints. The Campground is also the closest to the Jewel Cave National Monument within Black Hills National Forest. The Jewel Cave is the third longest in the world. 

Comanche is located right off the highway and as such there is so much noise that comes from the highway. The noise may be annoying especially if you are looking for a private time to cool off from the daily hustles of the city. However, it is the perfect place if you are looking for a central place where you can easily access the amenities that city life has to offer.

 There are plenty of amenities in this campground to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. However, you can stock up on the water that is available at the entrance of the park. The camp charges $16 for one nights stay and an additional cost $2 if you have a vehicle. All the thirty six campsites have potable water and toilets and you can reserve online or by phone.

4. Lake Park Campground and Cottages

© Black Hills

Lake Campground serves as the gateway into Black Hills National Forest and is located southwest of Rapid City. Once you are in this campground you are guaranteed to experience every camping experience that you ask for; whether it’s a place to park your RV or you are looking for tent camping. 

All campsites in the area have places where you will access to fresh drinking water and full-service restrooms. The campground has some of the best cottages in the state that range from studious to deluxe three-bedrooms. If you stay overnight at the park you should take part in the many on-location activities that the facility offers. Activities include non-motorized boat ride on the Canyon Lake, fishing in Rapid Creek, and the seven-mile bike path. There are several restaurants and shops where you can buy the necessary restocks you need while camping

5. Grizzly Bear Campground

© Ronee S. / Hipcamp

The grizzly Bear Campground is found on Iron Mountain Road and one of the best places to enjoy Black Hills Camping. The area is home to the famous Pigtail bridges where the campers get an opportunity to see the famous Rushmore National Memorial as you pass through the tunnels.

You do not have to travel much as Mount Rushmore is only 2 miles from the national memorial. Grizzly Campground allows tent camping only and it has over 20 campsites that are available for $20 for one nights stay. The Grizzly Bear Creek is nearby and there is water throughout. What’s more, the campsite attracts visitors of all age groups but is most popular with those looking for tranquility and want to connect with nature. Grizzly Bear Campground offers wooden cabins, tent sites, and RV camping. The RV sites have both partial and full hook-ups.

The primitive campsites are not far away and you can comfortably walk. They are equipped with restrooms and showers and you will pay $ 30 per night. For the small cabin you will pay $ 64 per night. 

6. Pactola Reservoir Campground

© Ryan M. / The Dyrt

Pactola Reservoir is found 20 km west of the City of Rapid. The reservoir is the deepest and largest in the Black Hills area. The shoreline is 12 miles long and deepest part goes more than 200 feet deep. Moreover, the reservoir covers an area of over 800 acres. 

The Lake is found in an area that is full of large granite boulders and pine trees and it is a sight worth seeing. The Lake is full of large trout fish and it is a great place for those who love fishing. The campground has many amenities including groceries, gasoline, full-service marina, laundry services, showers, and food stores. It is the perfect place to visit if all you want is to fish, swim, and relax. 

There are over 80 campsites which you can reserve by phone or online. Pactola Reservoir Campground has back-up sites and pull-thru, which are connected to electricity, water, and sewer. All the spots in the area have a fire ring and a picnic table. You can either camp in the tent or RV depending on your personal preference. There are tents available and the charges start at $ 40 per night; including one car and two people. For every additional person you will have to part with $ 5 per night.

7. Big Sioux Recreation Area Campground

© Votesmall

Located over 10 kilometers from Sioux Falls on the Banks of the Big Sioux River, the campground is one of the best places if you are looking for privacy. The campground has an 18-hole golf course, over 10 miles of heavily wooded trails, and one of the best places for bird watching in South Dakota.

The easiest way to get Big Sioux River is through the Kayak Trail or the Jay Heath Canoe. There are 50 campsites in the area and all of them can accommodate RVs but some of them are non-electric. There are water spigots in all the camps and there is a common area that has warm showers and flushing toilets. Camper cabins are available for hire throughout the winter though the individual campsites are closed from the month of October to May. 

8. Roubaix Lake Campground

© Sean Ryan / Rapid City Journal

It is located inside the Black Hills National Forest 13 miles south of the City of Deadwood. The U.S Forest Service operates the Roubaix Lake Campground and has 56 sites from where you can choose from. Roubaix has one of the best swimming and fishing holes in the Black Hills. During the summer months the loops in the campground are fully booked. There is little privacy at Roubaix Lake Campground because of how popular it is with tourists. During the summer months there are many tents and RVs that are in place. You can pitch your tent and enjoy the sound of spruce and pine forest and fall asleep to the gentle sounds of the birds as they chirp. 

Other activities that you can take part in include hiking, motorized boating, and exploring the flora and fauna that surrounds Black Hills National Forest. There is plenty of fresh drinking water and all tourists should be ready to share the communal vault toilets. No site in the area has electricity and their capacity ranges from tent-only to RV capable in their capacity.

The facility will allow you to make reservations six months in advance. The campground is found at an elevation of 5,500 feet above sea level, which means the campground is cool all year round. It operates from May to September. 

9. Horse Thief Campground and RV Resort

© Good Sam

Horse Thief Campground and RV Resort is owned by a family and located between Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. There are many overnight options for you to par take in as you enjoy the views of the Black hills. 

There is everything you need ranging from fully furnished cottages to non-electric tent sites. Being privately owned the campground is on a prime location which is near the best attractions in Black Hills. They include the following Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer State Park, and the Horse Thief Lake Campground. It is one of the best places to visit if you like exploring.

The bathhouse in the area is tiled and is available to any visitor who comes to the campground. There is wireless internet connection and several restaurants, two shopping malls, and a supermarket that are a short driving distance from the park. Moreover, the area is full of local businesses that operate on a daily basis.

The RV parks in South Dakota offer pull-thru and back-in sites that are equipped with electrical service. Every pull through site has sewer and water services. If you have a special event the park has two conference rooms.

Conclusion

South Dakota camping is for everyone and it does not matter if you want to explore by RV or by foot. There is a perfect place for everyone where you can rest your head. If you would want to enjoy the many marvels of the great state, the above campsites will offer you what you imagine and even more.

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