South Dakota

State Park Campground Guide

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Rolling prairie, scenic lakes, colorful woodlands, dramatic buttes, and Black Hills National Forest all make South Dakota an easy state to fall in love with. Known for Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota is not only home to six total National Parks Service sites, but also one of the most extensive and well-run state park systems in the country.

In addition to hiking, fishing, kayaking, climbing, and other outdoor activities, South Dakota state parks illuminate the deep and tumultuous history of this state, from the great Sioux Chief Crazy Horse to the Black Hills gold rush and its Wild West towns. You can’t mention South Dakota without buffalo, and these magnificent animals can be seen throughout the state, most notably at the jewel of the state park system, Custer State Park.

Fees increased in 2020 to cover flood damage and maintenance throughout the system. Entrance and camping fees fund nearly two-thirds of the cost to operate and maintain state parks and recreation areas.

Custer State Park

Reservations

Reservations can be made online at travel.campsd.com or by phone at 

800-710-2267. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance. The exception is Custer State Park, which can be booked up to 12 months in advance.

Campsite sizes

About half of the campgrounds accommodate big rigs, although the reservation system does not allow searches by RV length. Once you’ve begun the process of booking a campground, information about RV type, length, width, and slide-outs is entered before selecting a site. 

For general information about site sizes, it’s best to call the campground directly.

Accessibility

ADA-accessible sites are searchable and bookable through the reservation system. A valid disability placard or license plate must be visible.

Hookups

Electric and water hookups are available at almost every campground. Only a few campgrounds offer sewer hookups, but dump stations are widespread. Amenities are searchable on the reservation website under “Amenity & Lifestyle Options.”

Connectivity

A few South Dakota state park campgrounds offer WiFi. The reservation system includes WiFi in filtered searches under “Amenity & Lifestyle” options. If connectivity is a priority, contact the campground directly to ask about WiFi and cell service.

Maximum stay

The maximum stay is 14 consecutive nights. Park managers have the discretion to extend stays with written permission. 

Additional facilities

Most campgrounds have potable water, picnic areas, and restrooms or toilets. Many have convenience stores and playgrounds. Campsites have picnic tables and fire rings. 

South Dakota’s user-friendly reservation website allows you to filter searches by a detailed list of “Amenity & Lifestyle Options,” plus “Activities” and “Atmosphere” (for example, quiet or family friendly).

Cost

South Dakota state park campgrounds are ranked and priced by average occupancy and amenities. Per-night rates range from $11 for no hookups at a basic campground to $26 for a site with partial hookups at a “prime” campground. Custer State Park has its own pricing. 

The park entrance fee, in addition to camping fees, is $8 per vehicle. The exception is Custer State Park, whose park entrance fee is $20 and is valid for 7 days.

An annual vehicle entrance permit is available for $36 and can be booked online at 

travel.campsd.com/campgrounds-and-rv-parks/all/south-dakota-game-fish-and-parks/permits.

Additional Fees:

Nonrefundable reservation fee: $8

Cancellation fee: One night’s camping fee. (Custer State Park has its own cancellation terms.)

Note that a maximum of two changes to the reservation are allowed at no charge. For subsequent changes, the reservation must be canceled and rebooked.

Pet policies

Pets are allowed, as long as they’re kept on a leash no longer than 10 feet. And of course, guests should always clean up after their pet. 

Additional regulations

  • Maximum occupancy per site: 6 people and 2 vehicles.
  • Check-in time: 4 p.m. Check-out time: 4 p.m. (12 p.m. for Custer State Park.)
  • Quiet hours: 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Allowed in campgrounds and state park areas.
  • Generator use: Allowed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., no more than 2 hours at a time.
  • Campfires: Allowed only in designated fire rings, following local restrictions.
  • Drone use: Allowed following Federal Aviation Administration requirements and state laws.
Palisades State Park

Featured Campgrounds

Custer State Park

13400 U.S. Highway 16A, Custer, SD 57730

Custer State Park operates under its own regulations due to its popularity and highly coveted campsites. It’s difficult to overstate the grandeur of the largest and oldest of South Dakota’s state parks. Famous for one of the country’s largest free-roaming buffalo herds, Custer State Park is one of the top wildlife destinations in the world. With 71,000 acres of breathtaking landscape, scenic drives, historical sites, world-class visitor centers, and interpretive programs, Custer State Park is well worth the price of entry and the effort to secure a campsite. You can’t go wrong in any of the nine campgrounds, but favorites include Sylvan Lake, Bluebell, and Grace Coolidge.

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area

26140 451st Avenue, Canistota, SD 57012

If you can’t book a spot in Custer State Park, don’t despair. There are more than 50 other South Dakota state parks and recreation areas, including Lake Vermillion. Though famous for its clear waters and abundant fish, the lake and its surroundings offer plenty of outdoor opportunities beyond fishing, including kayaking and hiking. This peaceful year-round campground is just 30 miles west of Sioux Falls. There are 94 sites with electric and water hookups available in three different campgrounds, including additional dry camping sites. With picnic tables, grills, restrooms, playgrounds, and swimming beaches, Lake Vermillion is an ideal camping destination, especially for families. 

Palisades State Park

25495 485th Avenue, Garretson, SD 57030

This state park sits close to the state border with Utah in eastern South Dakota. The spectacular Split Rock Creek is lined with striking Sioux quartzite formations with pink cliffs and spires rising straight up to the sky. Palisades State Park has some of the best rock climbing in the state, and is also great for nature walks, hiking, biking, kayaking, and swimming. The small campground is just steps from the creek, and sites include both partial hookups and dry camping, restrooms, and potable water. Check RV size availability on the reservation site. 

South Dakota state park campgrounds that accommodate RV camping

Angostura Recreation Area

Big Sioux State Recreation Area

Buryanek Recreation Area

Chief White Crane Recreation Area

Cow Creek Recreation Area

Custer State Park

East Whitlock Lakeside Use Area

Farm Island Recreation Area

Fisher Grove State Park

Fort Sisseton State Park

Good Earth State Park

Hartford Beach State Park

Indian Creek Recreation Area

Lake Cochrane Recreation Area

Lake Herman State Park

Lake Hiddenwood Recreation Area

Lake Louise Recreation Area

Lake Poinsett Recreation Area

Lake Thompson Recreation Area

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area

Lewis and Clark Recreation Area

Llewellyn Johns Recreation Area

Mina Lake Recreation Area

Newton Hills State Park

North Point Recreation Area

Oahe Downstream Recreation Area

Oakwood Lakes State Park

Palisades State Park

Pease Creek Recreation Area

Pelican Lake Recreation Area

Pickerel Lake Recreation Area

Pierson Ranch Recreation Area

Platte Creek Recreation Area

Randall Creek Recreation Area

Richmond Lake Recreation Area

Rocky Point Recreation Area

Roy Lake State Park

Sandy Shore Recreation Area

Shadehill Recreation Area

Sheps Canyon Recreation Area

Sica Hollow State Park

Snake Creek Recreation Area

Spring Creek Recreation Area

Springfield Recreation Area

Swan Creek Recreation Area

Union Grove State Park

Walkers Point Recreation Area

West Bend Recreation Area

West Pollock Recreation Area

West Whitlock Recreation AreaFor more information on South Dakota state park campgrounds, visit gfp.sd.gov/camp.

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