Best Free Camping in South Dakota

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.

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Recent South Dakota Free Campsite Reviews

May 27, 2023

"Easy access to beautiful views"

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Mt Roosevelt Rd is well graded with almost no potholes and no washboard sections. A few pull offs coming up the road before this location (44.388218, -103.759013), then just past this location up the road is a big pull off and the shortly after that up the hill is room for 3 or 4 more rigs. There is a pit toilet a few minutes down the road at...
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Larry P
23 reviews
May 27, 2023

"Fun with Off-road Vehicle"

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We stayed 2night. Nice and quiet place and it was so much fun to enjoy off road driving.

3 reviews

"Close to Custer, on way to Jewel Caves."

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Turn off hwy 16 on Stagg Road. It is a fine dirt road. There were a couple of spots on Stagg to pull off on dirt roads to the right that would have worked IF NO HEAVY RAIN., but I continued about a mile and went left up the dirt road about 500 feet. There was a huge wood pile and a yellow grader where I turned, that looked like it was there...
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Gary Kowal
10 reviews
Oacoma, SD

Oacoma Flats

May 25, 2023

"Beautiful spot, but I won't stay here again due to locals"

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This is a really beautiful spot. Maybe you will get luckier than I. We had some local young people come by in a hopped-up pickup tuck. They came though 8 or 10 times, every hour or so and drove by each camping spot, gunning their engine and digging ruts in the muddy parts of the road. They were racing by about 10 feet from my camper. These roads...
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11 reviews
May 23, 2023

"Scenic & Serene"

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Well maintained gravel road, scenic views of the hills, majestic sunsets, great place to relax and reboot. You may have neighbors but plenty of space between sites. Getting one bar T-Mobile 6.76 mbps down, .45 mbps up.

Larry P
22 reviews