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15 of the Best Places to Go Camping in South Dakota

With scenic lakes, deep woodlands, and rolling plains, South Dakota has plenty of breathtaking landscapes just waiting to be explored! If you’re itching to get outdoors, you can easily visit any of one of this incredible state’s national forests, state parks, or private campgrounds to enjoy a trip that you will never forget. 

With so many wonderful options to choose from, finding the ideal spot can be difficult, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 15 best camping sites South Dakota has to offer. 

Whether you’re looking for an RV adventure or a more primitive camping experience, we’ve got the perfect spot for you!

Best Tent Camping in South Dakota

Tent camping is one of the best ways to get back to nature and immerse yourself in all of South Dakota’s outdoor wonders. End a full day of adventure by laying out under the stores at any one of these unbeatable tent camping sites. 

Before you pack up and run off into the wilderness, check out our tent camping guide to ensure you have the most enjoyable trip possible!

1. Sylvan Lake Campground, Custer State Park

Camping in South Dakota: Sylvan Lake Campground

Considered by many as the best places to go camping in South Dakota, Sylvan Lake Campground is located in one of the country’s largest state parks, this campground sits right near the shores of Sylvan Lake at the north end of Custer State Park. The site’s proximity to the “Crown Jewel” of Custer is just one of the many reasons Sylvan Lake Campground is one of the most sought after tent camping spots in South Dakota. 

With over 30 tent camping sites complete with access to flushing toilets and shower facilities, Sylvan Lake Campground is one of the best ways to experience what many consider to be the state’s finest and most scenic park. 

When you get tired of roughing it, you can quickly access the Sylvan Lake Lodge which includes a restaurant, cafeteria, and gift shop. Visit anytime between mid-May and late September!

2. Lake Vermillion Recreation Area Campgrounds

Vermillion River

If you’re in search of the ultimate aquatic adventure, then look no further than the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area Campgrounds in eastern South Dakota. 

Located on the shores of Lake Vermillion, this area hosts over 90 electric tent sites spread between three different campgrounds. Relax and enjoy some of the best fishing, boating, and swimming the state has to offer, and you can even easily rent a watercraft from the recreation area’s selection of canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. 

When you’re ready to dry off, you can do so in the best way possible by hiking the incredibly beautiful 1.25 mile Otter Stream Trail. We promise you’ll never want to leave!

3. Grizzly Creek Primitive, Black Hills National Forest

Operating from late May until early September, Grizzly Creek Primitive is located within the massive Black Hills National Forest. 

Resting on the banks of Grizzly Creek, this campground is a perfect choice for campers looking for a more authentic and primitive experience. Camp out on any one of their 20 non-electric tent sites complete with picnic tables, vault toilets, campfire rings, and fresh drinking water. 

Grizzly Creek is very close to the Norbeck Wildlife Reserve, so you’ll easily be able to catch a glimpse of elk, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, osprey, and many more species along the forest’s beautiful streams, lakes, and rivers. 

You can even take the day to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial or Custer State Park, which are both just a quick drive away. 

4. Big Pine Campground, Black Hills National Forest

If seclusion and serenity is what you’re looking for, then you’re guaranteed to love Big Pine Campground located in the heart of Black Hills National Forest. 

Nestled among a tranquil pinewood setting, this campground hosts a number of spacious primitive tent sites just waiting to be occupied. 

You can enjoy any one of the nearby hiking and biking trails, or stay close to home and take advantage of all the fun activities Big Pine has to offer including volleyball, horseshoes, and an indoor game room. 

You’ll also have no trouble accessing a number of local attractions with this site’s prime location. Complete with picnic tables, fire pits, bath houses, free WiFi and more, this campground has everything you need to enjoy the ultimate camping experience!

5. Buryanek Recreation Area

Located in southeast South Dakota along the Missouri River, Buryanek Recreation Area has long been a favorite among campers due to its scenic beauty and interesting historical roots. 

With a large selection of inexpensive electric and non-electric tent camping sites, Buryanek is one of South Dakota’s most popular spots for boating, fishing, and swimming. 

Lay out on the beach or take part in any one of the amazing activities this area has to offer such as bird watching, windsurfing, hiking, and more. 

Amenities include boat ramps, a fish cleaning station, flush toilets and showers, a picnic shelter, and even a family-friendly playground. Best of all, you can enjoy this breathtaking campground all year round!

15 of the Best Places to Go Camping in South Dakota 1

Best RV Camping in South Dakota

South Dakota has just as many wonderful RV parks and campgrounds as it does tent camping sites, and we’ve found the best ones so you don’t have to. 

Whether you prefer an RV park-style campground or something more rustic and traditional, we have got you covered. All you have to do is load up and be on your way! 

1. Heartland RV Park, Black Hills National Forest

If you want to go RV camping in South Dakota, you need to check out Hearland RV Park.

Located in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest, Heartland RV Park is the ultimate home base for quick and easy access to tons of local attractions. 

This park is less than 30 minutes from iconic sites including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and Custer State Park, so you’ll never have to worry about filling the hours. 

Visitors can take part in a number of outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, and hiking, and you can even take an aerial tour of Black Hills’s breathtaking natural landscape. 

Heartland also hosts an envious selection of amenities including a heated swimming pool and hot tub, laundry services, hot showers, high-speed internet, and pretty much anything else you could ever want. 

Perfect for families looking for an easygoing outdoor adventure, this park is one of the most luxurious ways to experience the wonders of the South Dakota wilderness. 

2. Horse Thief Campground and RV Resort

This family-owned campground and resort is located between Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, making it one of the most ideal camping spots in the area. 

You can easily spend the day visiting attractions such as Custer State Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, and many others. Horse Thief Campground accommodates vehicles of pretty much any size with a number of full-service sites with electric, water, and sewer. 

Enjoy a blend of natural wilderness and modern convenience with their range of enjoyable amenities including bath houses, a picnic pavilion, a heated swimming pool, and so much more! 

There’s even a general store on site so you never have to worry about running low on essential supplies. Horse Thief represents the perfect blend of primitive and convenient, and we promise you’ll be back in no time!

3. Rush No More RV Resort

Whether you’re in the mood for easygoing luxury or something more basic, Rush No More is the perfect place to park your camper for the weekend. 

This RV campground allows you to enjoy a secluded getaway while still being close enough to enjoy a number of South Dakota’s fascinating attractions. Explore Boulder Canyon, Keystone, and Mount Rushmore, or travel into the town of Deadwood to walk the streets and take in all of the carefully restored architecture. 

This pet-friendly campground offers a wide range of amenities including bathhouses and hot showers, fire pits, laundry services, and so much more! 

There’s even a charming beer garden that hosts weekly Music Jam sessions. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

4. Sleepy Hollow Campground and RV Park

Sleepy Hollow is the perfect campground to enjoy all of South Dakota’s natural beauty and embark on an unforgettable adventure. 

Located near the entrance to Badlands National Park, visitors can easily surround themselves with Mother Nature while spending quality time with their loved ones. 

With almost 60 convenient pull-through RV sites, Sleepy Hollow offers campground wide internet access as well as tons of other incredible amenities such as a swimming pool, dog park, and basketball hoop. 

Spend the day exploring the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands or take a short drive to Mount Rushmore or Sturgis for even more activities. Open from mid-April until late October, Sleepy Hollow Campground is truly fun for the whole family. 

5. Echo Valley Park

If you’re looking for a simple and traditional way to get out and connect with nature, then Echo Valley Park in Custer, SD is just for you. 

This secluded paradise is located next to Crazy Horse Mountain and surrounded by colorful forests and breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Complete with plenty of caves, hiking trails, and fishing spots, 

Echo Valley Park is here to help you get the most out of your South Dakota adventure! Laundry facilities, shower houses, and speedy WiFi are just a few of the helpful amenities this pet-friendly park has to offer as well as over 20 full-hookup sites. Enjoy a camping trip like no other, and make sure to bring your camera! 

Best Free Camping in South Dakota

Badlands South Dakota

Free camping is by far one of the best ways to experience the outdoors, and these campgrounds prove you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy a top notch camping adventure. 

While there may not be as many facilities or amenities, free campgrounds are still great for taking in South Dakota’s natural beauty up close and personal and making unforgettable memories.

1. Sage Creek Campground, Badlands National Park

Located on the westside of Badlands National Park’s (which offers many of the best places to go camping in South Dakota) north unit, Sage Creek Campground has been hailed as one of the best overnight experiences in South Dakota. 

The primitive camping island is surrounded by a road and parking area, making it ideal for small vehicles or tent camping. Sage Creek is known for being a popular place to spot the Park’s resident bison population as well as tons of other South Dakota wildlife. 

Enjoy any one of the nearby hiking trails or relax and watch one of the Midwest’s most breathtaking sunsets. 

Spots are available on a first come, first serve basis, and amenities include semi-covered picnic tables and vault toilets available on the campground. When it comes to free camping, you can’t get much better than this!

2. Badlands Overlook, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

Badlands Overlook is a scenic spot with beautiful views of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands that simply can’t be beat. 

Located just south of Wall, SD, this free campground offers plenty of great spots to pitch a tent or park an RV of almost any size. This fantastic boondocking location may not provide any amenities, but the extraordinary views of the landscapes and wildlife more than make up for it. 

This campground is just about as primitive as it gets, but the silence and solitude you’ll experience will have you connected with nature like never before. See for yourself why this spot has been named as one of America’s top five must-see camping destinations!

3. Bear Mountain Hill Top

If you’re looking to elevate your camping experience to a whole new level, then this free campsite will more than do the job. 

Located on the third highest mountain in Black Hills and resting more than 7000 feet high, Bear Mountain Hill Top is one of South Dakota’s standout spots. 

The campground is about a 20 minute drive from Crazy Horse Memorial and about 40 minutes from Mount Rushmore, so you’ll have no trouble accessing these iconic attractions. 

This site is even accessible for larger rigs so campers of all types can come and enjoy the unbelievable beauty of an area that’s famous for its hiking trails and climbing opportunities. As long as you’re not afraid of heights, then Bear Mountain is just for you. 

4. Dude Ranch Lakeside Use Area

This free camping site is located along the Missouri River off the I-90 in southern South Dakota and makes a convenient and delightful stop on any journey. 

You’ll have absolutely no trouble finding a spot for your tent or RV in this incredibly spacious campground, and you can even park right by the river for any even more relaxing experience. 

There’s a boat launch right next to the parking area, so boaters can easily spend their day coasting along the Missouri. 

You can even enjoy a peaceful stroll along the nearby beach that’s as pretty as it is charming. Best of all, guests are allowed to stay up to 7 days without a permit!

5. Wrinkled Rock Trailhead

Last, but not least for the best places to go camping in South Dakota is Wrinkled Rock Trailhead. You can find this hidden gem less than two miles from Mount Rushmore, making it one of the Memorial’s best free camping options. 

Wrinkled Rock Trailhead is located in a heavily forested area which makes it inaccessible for camper trailers and large RVs, but tents and vans will have no problem finding the perfect spot. 

You’ll enjoy easy access to rock climbing on the backside of Mount Rushmore, and then you can finish the day by relaxing under one of the countless spots of sweet shade. You might not have cell phone service, but at least there’s toilets!