Best Free Camping in South Dakota

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Free Camping in South Dakota

Ready to channel your inner pioneer? Let’s find ways to explore South Dakota for free!

Free Camping in the Black Hills National Forest

Experience free camping in the black hills of South Dakota like the early pioneers - with no amenities and a hardy spirit.

The National Forest Service allows free camping in South Dakota for enthusiasts to set up their own primitive campsite - away from the developed sites and developed reservoir areas -- for up to 14 days (in any 60 day period).

Dispersed campers must set up their tents 100 feet away from any road, stream, or trail, and the dispersed camping sites should be at least ½ mile away from any developed areas. The Black Hills National Forest is near Custer State Park and Mt.Rushmore National Monument.

Free Camping at Badlands National Park

Some campers compare South Dakota’s Badlands National Park to exploring the moon's surface because the topography is marked with crevices, ridges, and protruding rocks.

Within the park, you can camp for free at Sage Creek Campground. It is a free tent campground with 22 first-come-first-served sites, so make sure you get there early. Recreational vehicles longer than 18 feet are prohibited. But, for a small fee, you can RV Camp nearby at the Cedar Pass Campground.

Back-country camping is also allowed in the park.

Free Camping Outside of Badlands National Park

Just outside of the National Park is one of the most epic free camping sites in the United States. Nomad View and Steer Pasture Overlook both won the 2020 Campers Choice Awards for Best Free Camping.

More Free Camping in South Dakota:

Free camping is available throughout South Dakota. Here are three great options:

Hieb Memorial Park

About 35 miles south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota is Hieb Memorial Park in Marion, South Dakota. This small town (population under 800) hosts boondockers and camping enthusiasts by providing a free RV camping experience. This city park limits free RV camping to 7 days.

Seasonal recreational activities are available, including a playground, city pool, sand volleyball, and a lake with a foot suspension bridge. Other amenities in the park include picnicking shelters with water, electricity, and grills.

Visitors rave about the beautiful farm view and a river that runs right by the campsite. It is rumored to have free water and electricity hook-ups, too, depending on site availability.

Lion’s Park

Lion’s Park in Vermillion, South Dakota, provides free camping for RVs. Campsites have electricity, and there is water and a dump station on site. Stay up to three days for free. After 3 days, there is a suggested donation.

Dude Ranch Lakeside Use Area

Looking for free camping with a boat launch? Dude Ranch Lakeside Use Area, managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, is a great top between Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Plus, you can camp for up to 7 days with no permit required!

There is a boat launch and a fishing dock about 300 feet away from the campsites at Lake Francis. Amenities include fire pit rings, picnic tables, a pit toilet, dumpster.

Looking for more ideas? Check out the free camping in South Dakota map.

Recent South Dakota Free Campsite Reviews

May 23, 2024

"Free, Beautiful, And Quiet!"

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We came in a 40ft class A with low ground clearance. The roads are gravel but well maintained and have a turnabout at the end to accommodate any size rig. The sites are naturally segregated so you have quite a bit of space and privacy. Everything is clearly marked and pads are mostly level. There is a 6 mile out-and-back hike if that’s your...
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2 reviews
May 16, 2024

"Camping with Bison OH My"

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This has been one of my favorite camping spots yet. The Bison and Prairie dogs are super chill and don't really bother anyone other than standing in the middle of the road sometimes. Very clean pit toilet and nice and quiet even with lots of campers there. Definitely arrive early to make sure you get a good spot.

May 15, 2024

"Not Our Norm"

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We stopped earlier at a city/county spot and were super disappointed. Continued to Reva Gap and our expectations were exceeded! The road in was good, the spots were clean, and we had several to choose from. Thank you to Sioux Ranger and staff. Great job!

Black Beauty
5 reviews
Belle Fourche, SD

Belle Fourche Dam & Reservoir

May 13, 2024

"Beautiful Quiet Place To Stay"

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Loved my stay here. There was some activity during the day with locals driving through. I was here on a Friday and Saturday night in May and there were plenty of spots available. Enjoyed watching the geese families on the lake!

67 reviews
Miller, SD

Crystal Park

May 10, 2024

"Great Little Campground "

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I’ve stayed here twice and would highly recommend it! Both stays were midweek in May and there was only one other camper. The grounds and bathrooms are clean and appear to be well tended.

67 reviews