South Dakota’s strange, dreamlike landscape made up of sprawling prairies, glacial lakes, the Badlands and the majestic Black Hills make it a popular destination for outdoor lovers. Though Mount Rushmore is the state’s most popular tourist destination, there are plenty of other opportunities for outdoor fun in South Dakota.
Here are our 10 favorite South Dakota campgrounds.
The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of the mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. Learn more.
Imagine a 100-mile stretch of North America’s longest river, a vestige of the untamed American West. The Missouri National Recreational River is where imagination meets reality. Two free-flowing stretches of Missouri make up the National Park. Relive the past by making an exploration of the wild, untamed and mighty river that continues to flow as nature intended. Learn more.
Lewis and Clark Lake, near Yankton, is one of the state park system’s most popular resort parks. Three separate campgrounds comprise this modern recreation area, attracting visitors from throughout the Midwest. Modern resort facilities – from marinas to camping cabins to sandy beaches – attract water lovers to Lewis and Clark. Learn more.
Located 10 miles south of Hill City, South Dakota, Horsethief Lake Campground is a delightful setting for visitors seeking recreation and relaxation in Black Hills National Forest. This campground is 2 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial and adjacent to Horsethief Lake. Sites are tucked into a forest of towering ponderosa and lodgepole pine. Learn more.
Located less than 1 mile from the town of Hot Springs, SD, Cold Brook Lake offers an excellent variety of recreational activities year-round including canoeing, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, and camping. Winter activities include ice fishing, skating, and cross-country skiing. Learn more.
6. Sage Creek
Bison often wander through this primitive campground, located on the west side of the park’s North Unit, near the Badlands Wilderness Area. Access is located off of the Sage Creek Rim Road, an unpaved road that may temporarily close after winter storms and spring rains. The road provides limited turnarounds for large recreational vehicles. Camping is free of charge. Learn more.
Palisades State Park is one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. The park is popular among campers, photographers, sightseers, picnickers, rock climbers, and hikers. Learn more.
This campground is situated in a forest of ponderosa pine along the south shore of Sheridan Lake, offering lake views and access to a multitude of recreational opportunities both on land and water. Learn more.
10. Roubaix Lake
Roubaix Campground is tucked under a growth of Ponderosa pines along its namesake lake, offering one of the only swim beaches in the Black Hills National Forest. The sites are dispersed among four loops and many offer lake views. Learn more.
Do you have a favorite camping spot in South Dakota that wasn’t included on this list? Let us know in the comments!
And be sure to check out the rest of our Best Campgrounds in the US series.