Camping in South Dakota

Camping in South Dakota
South Dakota offers wonderful camping sites in the great Midwestern region of the United States. Many of these camping sites were once home to different Native American tribes, like the Lakota and Dakota Sioux tribes. Landmarks in South Dakota like the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore and the Missouri River are fantastic places to go camping.


Native Americans lived in the region of South Dakota for thousands of years. It is rich in natural resources and was an ideal place for hunters and settlers. For this reason, European explorers chose the region as a prime location for colonial development. The French ruled the area and considered it a part of Louisiana. Napoleon later sold it in 1803 to the United States in what is called the Louisiana Purchase.


South Dakota has six main camping regions. The northern hills region is famous for the Black Hills. Camping sites in this area include Bear Butte State Park, Roughlock Falls Nature Area and Rocky Point Recreation Area. The southern hills region has some beautiful hot springs and camping sites at Custer State Park and the Angostura Recreation Area. The Oahe and Sharpe regions have camping sites next to the Missouri River and have trails that mimic the paths used during the Lewis and Clark expeditions. The glacial lakes region has more than 20 state parks, national parks and recreation areas that feature camping along rivers, in forests and by the many local lakes. The heartland region has areas for camping, hiking, canoeing and rock climbing.


Various types of campsites are available in South Dakota. Some campsites have electricity and water and sewer hookups. Many South Dakota state parks have camping cabins available. Cabin rates include electricity. Standard camping cabins at most South Dakota State Parks are $35 a night. Prime cabins at Lewis & Clark, Chief White Crane, Pierson Ranch and Fort Sisseton are $40 a night. Custer State Park Camping Cabins are $45 a night. Non-profit youth groups pay a nominal camping fee of $0.50 per person per night. You can also rent tents at various parks as well. If you are looking for a larger lodge, six of the South Dakota State Parks offer lodge facilities that are perfect for family vacations, reunions and other group trips. These lodges sleep up to 12 people and are priced from $125 to $200. They are located at Mina Lake, Shadehill, Lake Thompson, Newton Hills, Oahe Downstream and Palisades. An annual park entrance license is currently $23 for the first vehicle.


Camping in South Dakota is great during all seasons of the year. During the winter, many parks have special snowshoe trails. You can also enjoy ice fishing at Glacier Lake. Special fishing tournaments and disc golf tournaments take place during the spring and summer.

Expert Insight

Be sure to look for the many Native American reservations and historical sites while camping in South Dakota. Also, bring your camera to take pictures of the beautiful wildlife in the area. Always be careful to obey state laws regarding wildlife and camping. Littering and other violations, such as letting your dog loose without a leash in a state park, can result in Class 2 misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500.

Article Written By Kori Ellis

K. Ellis has traveled extensively throughout the United States. She has spent considerable time hiking, camping and fishing throughout New Mexico, Arizona, California and several other states. From rugged hikes down the Grand Canyon to scenic strolls through the Jemez Mountains, she has experienced it all.

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