From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota

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Embark on an unforgettable outdoor adventure in the picturesque state of South Dakota, where the diverse landscape offers a plethora of top-notch camping spots for nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking rugged terrain or serene lakesides, South Dakota has something to offer for every camping enthusiast. To help you plan your next camping trip, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best camping spots in South Dakota, ranging from the iconic Badlands to the serene shores of the state’s pristine lakes. Pack your gear and get ready to explore the natural beauty of South Dakota from the comfort of your tent or RV.

In this guide, we’ll take you through a handpicked selection of camping spots that showcase the breathtaking landscapes and outdoor opportunities that South Dakota has to offer. From the otherworldly rock formations of Badlands National Park to the tranquil shores of Sheridan Lake and Pactola Reservoir, each camping destination on this list promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of the Midwest. So, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to discover the best camping spots that South Dakota has to offer.


Key Takeaways:

  • Diverse landscapes: South Dakota offers camping spots with a wide range of landscapes, from the rugged Badlands to the serene lakesides.
  • Abundance of activities: Campers can enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching at the recommended spots.
  • Family-friendly options: Many camping sites in South Dakota are suitable for families, with kid-friendly amenities and safe surroundings.
  • Rustic and modern camping: Whether you prefer primitive camping or RV hookups, there are options to suit every camping style in South Dakota.
  • Stunning scenery: The scenic beauty of the Black Hills and the Missouri River make for breathtaking backdrops at these camping destinations.
  • Reservations recommended: Due to the popularity of these camping spots, making reservations in advance is advisable to secure a spot.
  • Seasonal considerations: Be mindful of the weather and seasonal availability when planning a camping trip to South Dakota, as some spots may be closed in the winter.

Badlands National Park

The Badlands National Park is a must-visit for any camping enthusiast. Located in southwestern South Dakota, this otherworldly landscape is marked by rugged rock formations, canyons, and spires. The park offers a unique camping experience in the heart of the Badlands, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the raw beauty of the natural surroundings.

Sage Creek Campground

The Sage Creek Campground is a primitive camping area located in the Badlands National Park. Situated amidst the stunning scenery of the park, this campground offers a truly immersive experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can expect minimal amenities and basic facilities, but the unparalleled views and sense of tranquility make it all worth it.

Cedar Pass Campground

One of the most popular camping spots in the Badlands National Park, the Cedar Pass Campground offers well-maintained facilities and scenic views. With easy access to hiking trails and the iconic Badlands formations, this campground provides a convenient and comfortable base for exploring the area.

For instance, visitors can enjoy hot showers, an onsite restaurant, and a visitor center at the Cedar Pass Campground. Whether camping in an RV or a tent, this campground provides a range of amenities to ensure a pleasant stay in the heart of the Badlands.

Custer State Park

Some of the best camping spots in South Dakota can be found within the stunning Custer State Park. This park offers a variety of camping experiences, from rugged backcountry camping to more developed campsites with amenities. With its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife, Custer State Park provides an unforgettable camping experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Sylvan Lake

To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Custer State Park, make sure to visit Sylvan Lake. This picturesque spot is surrounded by granite rock formations and lush greenery, creating a tranquil setting for camping. The clear waters of Sylvan Lake are perfect for swimming and fishing, and there are several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Stockade North

Park your RV or pitch your tent at Stockade North campground in Custer State Park for a memorable outdoor adventure. This campground offers spacious sites, picnic tables, and fire pits, providing all the necessary amenities for a comfortable camping experience. Situated near a serene lake, Stockade North is the perfect base for exploring the natural wonders of Custer State Park.

Lake Stockade North is a popular spot for fishing and boating, and visitors can also enjoy bird watching and wildlife viewing along the shore. The campground provides easy access to hiking trails and scenic overlooks, allowing campers to fully appreciate the beauty of this area.

Black Hills National Forest

Your journey to the best camping spots in South Dakota is not complete without a visit to Black Hills National Forest. With over 1.2 million acres of diverse landscape, this expansive forest offers some of the most stunning camping areas in the state. From towering granite peaks to lush meadows and serene lakes, this is a nature lover’s paradise. For a comprehensive list of camping spots in South Dakota, check out 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota!

Roubaix Lake Campground

The Roubaix Lake Campground is a hidden gem nestled within the Black Hills National Forest. Situated next to the serene Roubaix Lake, this campground offers a tranquil setting for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re into fishing, hiking, or simply enjoying the peaceful surroundings, this campground has something for everyone. The lush forest and the crystal-clear lake make it an ideal camping spot for nature lovers.

Bismarck Lake Campground

Campground enthusiasts will appreciate the beauty and tranquility of Bismarck Lake Campground. Surrounded by towering trees and offering stunning views of Bismarck Lake, this campground is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The serene setting and the myriad of outdoor activities available make it a must-visit destination for camping enthusiasts.

To get the most out of your camping experience at Bismarck Lake Campground, be sure to pack your fishing gear and hiking boots. The lake is teeming with trout, making it a popular spot for anglers. Additionally, the surrounding trails offer excellent opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bear Butte State Park

After exploring the rugged landscapes of South Dakota, be sure to make a stop at Bear Butte State Park. This natural wonder is steeped in Native American history and offers a unique camping experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bear Butte Campground

On your visit to Bear Butte State Park, set up camp at the Bear Butte Campground. Here, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the serene surroundings of the park, with stunning views of Bear Butte Mountain. The campground offers a range of amenities, including picnic tables, fire pits, and modern restroom facilities, ensuring a comfortable stay for campers.

Spiritual Camping Spots

Butte State Park is regarded as a spiritual ground by many Native American tribes, making it a sacred camping spot for those seeking a deeper connection with nature. The park offers specific areas for spiritual camping, allowing visitors to partake in traditional ceremonies and seek solitude for personal reflection and meditation.

A visit to Bear Butte State Park provides the opportunity to learn about the cultural significance of the area and gain a greater understanding of the spiritual importance it holds for many Indigenous communities.

Wind Cave National Park

For a unique and fascinating camping experience in South Dakota, look no further than Wind Cave National Park. This park is home to the seventh longest cave system in the world, with more than 150 miles of explored passages. Above ground, the mixed-grass prairie is home to a variety of wildlife, making it a prime spot for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers.

Elk Mountain Campground

An ideal base for exploring Wind Cave National Park, Elk Mountain Campground offers stunning views and easy access to hiking trails. With 61 campsites, including some with electrical hookups, it provides a comfortable and convenient camping experience. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, and there are modern restroom facilities nearby.

Primitive Backcountry Sites

Sites for backpackers and those seeking a more secluded camping experience are available in the park’s backcountry. These primitive backcountry sites are situated along hiking trails and provide a true wilderness experience. They are equipped with a picnic table and fire ring, but no other amenities, offering a chance to truly disconnect and immerse yourself in nature.

Plus, camping in the backcountry allows for the opportunity to spot some of the park’s most elusive wildlife, such as bison and pronghorn, in their natural habitat.

Palisades State Park

Keep in mind that when camping at Palisades State Park, you’ll need to make sure you have all your supplies ready, as the area doesn’t offer any RV hookups. For those with RVs, you’ll find campgrounds near Badlands National Park, South Dakota that provide all the amenities you might need. However, if you prefer a more rugged camping experience, Palisades State Park is the perfect place.

Creekside Campgrounds

Palisades State Park offers creekside campgrounds that provide a peaceful and serene setting for your camping adventure. The sound of the rushing water against the rocks and the cool shade provided by the surrounding trees create a truly relaxing atmosphere. These campgrounds are some of the most sought-after spots in the park, so be sure to make your reservations well in advance.

The Creekside Campgrounds are perfect for those who seek a closer connection to nature and a more secluded camping experience.

Tent-Only Areas

On the other hand, if you prefer to truly rough it, Palisades State Park also offers tent-only camping areas. These areas provide a more authentic camping experience, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the natural surroundings without the distraction of RVs and other modern amenities. This is the perfect option for those seeking a more primitive and adventurous camping experience.

Park rangers regularly monitor these areas to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all campers, so you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the park with peace of mind.

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area

Now, let’s talk about the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, a stunning natural escape offering a variety of outdoor activities and camping opportunities. Located near Canistota, South Dakota, this area is known for its beautiful lakeside views, fishing and boating opportunities, and well-maintained campgrounds.

East Unit Campground

Any camping enthusiast can enjoy the serene and peaceful atmosphere at the East Unit Campground. With scenic views of the water, this campground offers a relaxing and tranquil setting for a perfect outdoor getaway. Visitors can also take advantage of the on-site amenities, including picnic areas, hiking trails, and clean restroom facilities.

West Unit Campground

One of the highlights of the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area is the West Unit Campground, which offers a more secluded and private camping experience. Surrounded by lush forests and situated along the shoreline, this campground provides a sense of adventure and exploration for nature lovers.

Unit sites at the West Unit Campground come equipped with fire pits, picnic tables, and access to clean water sources, ensuring a comfortable and convenient camping experience. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an active outdoor adventure, the West Unit Campground has something for every camper.

Newton Hills State Park

Despite being relatively small in size, Newton Hills State Park is a hidden gem for camping enthusiasts in South Dakota. Located just a short drive from Sioux Falls, this park offers a serene and picturesque setting for outdoor adventures. With its sprawling woodlands, rugged terrain, and abundance of wildlife, it’s the perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Oakridge Campground

Hills and valleys provide the backdrop for the Oakridge Campground, offering visitors a unique camping experience. This campground is nestled among the trees, providing ample shade and privacy for campers. The well-maintained facilities and scenic hiking trails make it an ideal base for exploring the park’s natural beauty. Campers can also enjoy the convenience of easy access to the park’s amenities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, and a swimming beach.

Lakeview Campground

One of the most sought-after camping spots in the park, Lakeview Campground offers stunning views of the shimmering waters. Campers can wake up to the sound of waves lapping at the shore and enjoy breathtaking sunsets over the lake. The campground is equipped with modern amenities, including electric hookups and clean restroom facilities. Whether you’re into fishing, boating, or simply relaxing by the water, Lakeview Campground has something for everyone.

The Lakeview Campground is a popular choice for families and groups, offering a tranquil setting and easy access to the park’s recreational activities. Campers can spend their days exploring the hiking trails, birdwatching, and taking in the natural beauty of the area. With its proximity to the lake and well-maintained facilities, it’s no wonder why this campground is a top pick for outdoor enthusiasts.

Big Sioux Recreation Area

To experience the beauty of South Dakota’s natural surroundings, look no further than the Big Sioux Recreation Area. Located near Brandon, this stunning area offers a variety of camping options for outdoor enthusiasts.

Family Campgrounds

An ideal spot for families, the Big Sioux Recreation Area features well-maintained and safe campgrounds with modern amenities such as electric hookups and clean restroom facilities. The serene atmosphere and proximity to the Big Sioux River make this a perfect setting for a family camping trip. Whether you’re an experienced camper or new to the outdoors, this area provides a relaxing and enjoyable environment for all.

Riverside Campsites

Campsites at the Big Sioux Recreation Area are located along the river, offering breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere for campers. The sounds of the flowing water and the peaceful surroundings create an unforgettable camping experience. Whether you’re looking to go fishing, birdwatching, or simply relax by the water, these riverside campsites are perfect for nature enthusiasts.

Riverside campsites at the Big Sioux Recreation Area provide a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, with the added convenience of nearby hiking trails and picnic areas. Campers can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, birdwatching, and hiking, all within a short distance from their campsite.

From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota

From above, South Dakota offers a diverse and breathtaking range of camping spots for both adventure seekers and nature lovers. Whether you prefer the rugged beauty of Badlands National Park or the serene tranquility of the lakesides, there is something for everyone in this great state. With a variety of terrain and landscapes, South Dakota’s camping spots are sure to satisfy any camping enthusiast’s desires.

By exploring the 10 best camping spots in South Dakota, it is clear that the state provides a unique and memorable experience for anyone looking to escape into the great outdoors. This list provides an insight into some of the most stunning and sought-after camping locations in South Dakota, making it easier for camping enthusiasts to plan their next outdoor adventure with confidence and excitement.


Q: What are the best camping spots in South Dakota?

A: From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota showcases some of the top camping destinations in the state, offering diverse landscapes and experiences for nature enthusiasts.

Q: What kind of camping experiences can be found in South Dakota?

A: South Dakota offers a range of camping experiences, from rugged Badlands terrain to serene lakeside settings, providing opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation.

Q: Are there facilities available at these camping spots?

A: Many of the camping spots featured in From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota offer facilities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and in some cases, even RV hookups for convenience.

Q: Is it necessary to make reservations for these camping spots?

A: Reservations are recommended for popular camping spots in South Dakota, especially during peak seasons. It is advisable to plan ahead and secure a spot in advance to ensure a smooth camping experience.

Q: What are some of the activities available at these camping spots?

A: Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing at the camping spots featured in From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota, providing a diverse range of outdoor experiences.

Q: Are there any specific rules or regulations to be aware of when camping in South Dakota?

A: Campers should familiarize themselves with the specific rules and regulations of each camping spot, including guidelines for campfires, waste disposal, and wildlife interaction, to ensure a respectful and safe camping experience for all visitors.

Q: What makes these camping spots stand out from others in South Dakota?

A: The camping spots featured in From Badlands to Lakesides – 10 Best Camping Spots in South Dakota have been selected for their unique natural features, scenic beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation, making them stand out as some of the best camping destinations in the state.


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