Camping in the Black Hills National Forest

By | Jul 25th, 2017 | Category: Outdoor Recreation
Camping in the Black Hills National Forest

Do you love the outdoors? Do you love camping? I’ve lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota for over 10 years and I am very lucky to enjoy the beautiful outdoors year round. Many activities keep me busy, but by far, my favorite time of year is camping season!

We have all inevitably heard our parents say, and probably more than once, “Go outside and play!” Growing up on a farm, I spent most days playing outside with my sisters. Our days were filled with making mud pies by the river, stealing hammers out of the garage to build tree forts, fighting over who got to ride the 4-wheeler first, and regularly begging our parents to let us camp in the yard. The outdoors have held a special place in my heart ever since.

Camping in the Black Hills National Forest is perfect for those who want to stay off the beaten path without all the bells and whistles. It’s also a great option for those who procrastinate and don’t make reservations in advance (I’m guilty of this from time to time). With over 1.2 million acres of public recreation land available—including 31 campgrounds and 1,300 miles of streams—you are sure to find the perfect spot.

I have found many ‘perfect spots’ to set up camp over the years. Of the 31 forest service campgrounds, I definitely have my favorites, but like any good fishing hole, you have to find your own.

Some campgrounds are very small with as few as 7 sites, and may even require a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to access. Others are larger, easier to get to, and handicap accessible—the largest has 129 sites. While vault toilets, fire rings, and tables are available at all campgrounds, showers, electric, sewer, and water hookups are NOT available. Potable water is available at most. Reservations can be made for some of the campgrounds by visiting www.recreation.gov, while others are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Don’t forget your furry friends at home, they love camping too. Just remember all pets must be leashed and cleaned up after.

Not interested in a campground? All sites are reserved or taken? Not a problem! You can find your own camping spot in the BHNF! Just be aware of the following rules: 1.) There is a 14-day camping stay limit, 2.) You must bury human waste, 3.) Pack out what you pack in, 4.) Camping is not permitted within a ½ mile of a developed campground, within 100ft of a stream, or areas marked with no dispersed camping signs, and 5.) NO campfires or open burning!

Last summer my boyfriend and I hiked in about a mile into the Southern Hills of the BHNF. We only went a mile because this was my first time hiking in and camping and I had a hard time packing light. We found a spot a ways off the trail with a great view and decided to set up camp. Enjoying the peace and quiet, we didn’t see another soul for two days! Well that’s not completely true. We did see an abundance of wildlife, which reminded me to be aware of my surroundings and to respect wildlife; after all, I’m the one camping in their living room. In addition to respecting wildlife, watch out for bugs, and know what plants are poisonous! Detailed information and maps can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/blackhills/recreation.

Now get outdoors and find your ‘perfect spot’ in the Black Hills National Forest!

About the Author

is a South Dakota native originally from Watauga, SD. She currently resides in Spearfish with her boyfriend Tyler and their two kitties Tuesday & Thursday. She has a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Management from Black Hills State University, and applies that education to her position as a Regional Sales Director for Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family as well as hiking, biking, running, and almost all other outdoor activities.

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