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In the Lakota language, the Black Hills of South Dakota are referred to as “Paha Sapa,” which translates to “island in the prairie.”

These pine-covered granite peaks stand out against the meadows that surround them, giving the impression that they are almost entirely black when viewed from a distance.

The Black Hills are revered as a holy site by the Lakota people, in addition to many other indigenous peoples from all over the Great Plains. The promise of rich natural resources and abundant animals also drew a large number of European settlers to the area in the 1800s.

Camping in the Black Hills today offers visitors a treasure trove of history, culture, recreation, and breathtaking landscapes.

Although the majority of the Black Hills National Forest is located in the western part of South Dakota, it also covers a portion of the northeastern part of Wyoming. The whole area of the public property extends over a distance of 125 miles in length and 65 miles across at its widest point.

The landscape is characterized by forested hills, rugged granite peaks, breathtaking canyons, open meadows, and crystal-clear lakes.

Campers who venture to the Black Hills National Forest can take advantage of the area’s eleven reservoirs, thirty campgrounds, two scenic byways, more than 1,300 miles of streams, 13,605 acres of wilderness, and more than 450 miles of trails.

The Black Hills National Forest is open to visitors at no cost. However, there may be fees associated with using certain campgrounds and day-use sites.

Because of the stringent fire rules that are in place in the Black Hills, if you want to create s’mores at night, you need to ensure that you’re in an area where you are allowed to do so.

Campfires are only permitted in South Dakota’s national forests if they are contained within pre-existing grates and approved picnic areas and campgrounds.

If you’re looking for the best camping ground to try out at the Black Hills, then you’ve come to the right place! These are the top 6 very best campsites that you should visit in the area.

1. Iron Creek Horse Camp

Camping in the Black Hills is almost as good as being in heaven, but if you want the complete experience, you’re going to need to bring your horse with you.

You have nothing to worry about because the Black Hills National Forest has you covered on that front, too. Iron Creek Horse Camp is the best place to go camping with your equine companion if you have those kinds of plans.

Iron Creek Horse Camp is a modest campsite with nine available sites and charges $24 per night for each one. The locations are in very isolated areas, and some of them even include horse paddocks on the premises.

The campground has two trails that depart from it, so you and your regal companion will have no trouble exploring the natural splendor of the Black Hills.

You will find bathrooms for yourself, while your friend will find a place to dispose of dung. This campground does not provide drinkable water, but there is water available for animals.

2. Horsethief Lake Campground

The campground at Horsethief Lake is located near Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which is one of the campground’s best features.

It’s only a two-mile drive to get to the national memorial from the campground, making it one of the sites that are located closest to the famous National Park Service location.

However, the campground offers more than just a place to rest your head after looking at the monument or indulging in Thomas Jefferson’s insanely delicious vanilla ice cream recipe from 1780, which is offered inside the park.

The campground itself is a unique and wonderful place in its own right.

Horsethief Lake is a picturesque location that’s known for its peace and quiet. Canoeing and kayaking on the lake is a relaxing activity that is highly recommended.

The lake is also connected to a vast trail system, including a spur that will take you to the 111-mile Centennial Trail that traverses the Black Hills in a north-to-south direction.

Camping in the Black Hills at Horsethief Lake Campground will set you back $26 per night, with an additional $2 per night charge for each additional car. The campsite contains a total of 36 sites, each of which can be reserved either over the phone or online.

Only during the busiest times of the year is drinkable water accessible on-site. Even though there are no showers, there are still restrooms available.

Best Campgrounds In The Black Hills (2)

3. Custer Trail Campground

Hill City, South Dakota, is a charming village in the Black Hills and is situated approximately 20 miles to the west of Deerfield Reservoir.

This breathtaking lake is formed by Castle Creek, and during the winter months, visitors can enjoy activities such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, and ice skating on its surface.

During the summer months, visitors can enjoy peaceful fishing and boating on the lake, which has a boat speed limit of 5 mph and a no-wake restriction.

Along the shore of the reservoir, there are three campgrounds for camping in the Black Hills. Custer Trail Campground is the most secluded of the three, providing visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful and secluded setting.

The fee for staying in a single unit at the Custer Trail Campground is $15 per night. Only during the busiest times of the year is there drinkable water available.

At the location, there are 16 camping spots in total, each of which is specifically designed to accommodate either RVs or tents. It’s not possible to make reservations for this campsite in advance.

4. Roubaix Lake Campground

One of the most interesting parts of the forest to camp in is located in the northern Black Hills.

Staying at Roubaix Lake Campground provides visitors with an ideal base camp from which to venture out and discover the area’s many natural wonders, including the canyons and waterfalls for which the area is famous.

In addition, Wonderland Cave, the historic mining town of Lead, and the famous gold rush town of Deadwood will only be a short drive away from where you will be staying. These locations all provide a variety of entertaining activities that are suitable for the entire family.

The Roubaix Lake Campground offers a total of 56 sites, 13 of which are open for the entire year. This campground features a small lake that is perfect for swimming in and also provides fishing possibilities for brook trout.

The fee for a single site is $24 per night, while the cost of parking an additional vehicle is $2 per night. Online or over-the-phone reservations are available for each site.

5. Grizzly Bear Campground

When camping in the Black Hills, by taking a little trip down Iron Mountain Road, you’ll find the Grizzly Bear Campground.

Iron Mountain Road is home to the world-famous pigtail bridges, from which campers can get a picture-perfect view of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The Grizzly Bear Campground is an area that allows tents only, so any RV fans will have to stay at one of the many other camping sites in the area.

The Grizzly Bear Campground has 20 campsites, each of which costs $20 per night, and an additional $2 per night is charged for each additional car.

As well as having access to potable water, restrooms, and a historically significant rock shelter, this campsite is situated next to the beautiful Grizzly Bear Creek. Online or over-the-phone reservations are available for each site, so be sure to book in advance as this site is very popular.

6. Pactola Reservoir Campground

The largest and deepest lake in the Black Hills is the Pactola Reservoir, which can be found west of Rapid City and is just around 15 miles away from here. It’s around 800 acres in size, has a shoreline that is 14 miles long, and has depths that go up to 150 feet.

A breathtaking scene can be seen at the lake, which is surrounded by massive granite boulders and tall pine trees. At Pactola Reservoir, anglers consistently reel in huge brown trout as well as record-setting lake trout every year.

The region is home to a wide variety of amenities, such as a marina that provides a full range of services, as well as gasoline, oil, groceries, restaurant service, showers, and laundry facilities.

When all you want to do while camping in the Black Hills is relax, swim, and fish at the lake, you’ll find that this is the ideal location for you.

The Osprey Trail and a boat launch are conveniently placed next to the Pactola Reservoir Campground, which is situated on the south shore of the lake. The distance to the showers is around a half mile.

There are 83 open spots, and reservations can be made either online or over the phone. During the busiest times of the year, the nightly rate is $26 and there is access to drinkable water.


The Black Hills in South Dakota bring many people to the area as they want to see these stunning landscapes as well as take a look at the ever-popular Mount Rushmore site.

If you want to spend some time in this area surrounded by nature and the heads of presidents, then any one of the above campsites would be an excellent place to stop at. Just be sure to book in advance!

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