U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Black Hills National Forest

South Dakota and Wyoming

Custom Search

Forest Information

The Black Hills National Forest is located in western South Dakota with 1,071,741 acres and northeastern Wyoming with 175,391 acres. There are 31 developed campgrounds, 18 of which meet the selection criteria.

The Black Hills rise like a dark island from a green ocean. Its mass dominates the prairie but is dwarfed by an azure sky. The thick, dark green needles of the Ponderosa pines and Black Hill spruce give the Hills their well-known black color. Elevations of up to 7,000 feet give the Hills comfortable summer temperatures which in turn encourage the conifers to grow. But the Black Hills National Forest is more than a place of breathtaking beauty, scenery and legend. The Forest also offers a diversity of wildlife, flora, recreational opportunities and camping locations for all to enjoy.

Any of the almost 300 miles of Forest Service maintained foot, horse, or mountain bike-designed trails provide a delightful way to experience the Black Hills. The 111-mile Centennial Trail, the longest trail in the Forest, provides a visitor with an opportunity to experience old growth forest, sunny meadows, a variety of wind flowers, towering granite crags, remote canyons where there is a chance of viewing turkey, elk, deer, mountain goat, bison, and bighorn sheep. The Flume Trail, an easy trail that follows the Rockerville Flume, offers a living history experience. The flume was built in 1880 to carry water to the gold mines. The old timbers and rock retaining walls used by the miners can be seen along the trail. The sound of rushing water brings a vision of prospectors hunting for their pot-of-gold. The aerial feats of the narrow winged cliff swallow can be seen along the 3.8-mile Cliff Swallow Trail along with beaver in its natural habitat.

While the various Forest's trails offer excellent opportunity to view the Black Hills, it is staying at one of the Black Hill's many camping locations a visitor can have a forest experience. These locations range from one of the underdeveloped "dispersed" sites (not included in this campground review) scattered throughout the Forest to a developed campground that can accommodate car, tent, motorhome or recreational vehicle camping enthusiasts.

There are quiet campgrounds, such as Boxelder Forks and Hanna, near good trout fishing in locations ideal to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Black Hills. Other campgrounds, near one of the many attraction found in the Black Hills, seen to be bustling with activity all that time.

Most people think of Mount Rushmore (three miles from the Horsethief Lake campground) when the Black Hills is mentioned but there is much more to see in the Hills. Custer State Park, with scenic Needles Highway, Harney Peak, and State Game Loop, is located near Bismarck Lake and Horsethief Lake campgrounds. Wind Cave National Park, with its herd of roaming buffalo, is a short drive from these campgrounds. Comanche Parkcampground offers easy access to Jewel Cave National Monument, while Crazy Horse Mountain Monument is near Oreville campground. Devils Tower National Monument and Vore Buffalo Jump, both in Wyoming, are within a comfortable drive from Cook Lake Recreation Area, Reuter, and Sundance campgrounds. Actually, none of the Black Hills National Forest's campgrounds are beyond an hour or so drive from most of the Hills' various commercial and public attractions.

Gold panning and rock-hounding are a part the Black Hills' history and culture. You can "surface collect" small rocks or mineral specimens only for personal use without a permit. Gold panning is allowed in some areas, so check with nearest District Ranger Office before you start. Also, there are many historic sites within the Forest - be careful not to disturb - others want to enjoy the discovery.

One delightful and different type of hike found only in this U.S. National Forest is called the "Black Hills Moonwalk." The walks occur during a full moon all year long on specified dates and times at different locations throughout the Black Hills. They are educational and normally one to three miles. Check with the local newspaper or District Ranger Office for schedule.

Spectacular scenery, wide open spaces, and a huge diversity of recreational opportunities make the Black Hills National Forest a great place to visit. Whether going for a family tent camping vacation or to enjoy some RV camping fun, one visit to the Black Hills National Forest and you'll be back again to enjoy and experience more.


SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 1019 N. 5th Street Custer, South Dakota 57730 605-673-9200 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Bearlodge P.O.B. 680, Hwy. 14E Sundance, Wyoming 82729 307-283-1361 Hell Canyon 330 Mt. Rushmore Rd. Custer, South Dakota 57730 605-673-4853 Mystic 803 Soo San Dr. Rapid City, South Dakota 57702 605-343-1567 Northern Hills 2014 North Main Spearfish, South Dakota 57783 605-642-4622

Fred and Suzi Dow