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Black Hills National Forest Campgrounds and Seasonal Gates Scheduled to Open

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Beth Doten, Public Affairs

Custer, S.D., May 13, 2024— Campgrounds on the Black Hills National Forest will open Friday, May 17 for first-come first-serve camping. Campsites that have been reserved will be available for use beginning Wednesday, May 22.

The Forest offers 30 campgrounds with more than 680 individual sites. Many of the campgrounds are operated by a Forest Service recreation concessionaire, Forest Recreation Management, (FRM) Inc. Many campgrounds have on-site hosts who can help provide information about nearby trails and outdoor activities in the area. While electric, sewer, water hook-ups and showers are not available, most campgrounds have potable water and vault toilets.

The fees at campgrounds range from $16 to $28.50 per night. Group camping is also available with advanced reservations near Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake.

There are several horse camps available on the Forest designed for stock use. These sites offer extra room for trailers, corals for stock and riding trails nearby. If a horse campsite is not needed, there are many other campgrounds available across the Forest.

To reserve most Black Hills National Forest campsites, visit or call Toll Free 1-877-444-6777. Due to high demand, reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days in advance.

Seasonally closed gates on the Black Hills National Forest are scheduled to open on Wednesday, May 15. They are identified on the current Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM).

Riders are encouraged to observe Tread Lightly principles. Driving on soft surfaces or where rutting has been observed should be avoided until drier conditions prevail. Roads and trails in the hills may be unsuitable for driving until they dry out from recent moisture. Additional tips include knowing the basics of trail etiquette, knowing the regulations and laws for operating motor vehicles, practicing good stewardship while sharing trails with others, and respecting private property by keeping speeds and dust low around homes, and nearby ranches.

Damaging forest roads and lands is against the law. The legal and financial consequences can be steep, and damages done to the land can take years to repair. 

A Motorized Vehicle Use Trail Permit is required for any motor vehicle traveling on motorized use trails in the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. Permits may be purchased directly from Black Hills National Forest offices, many local vendors, ordered online (permits mailed), or from the Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association Visitor Center, located east of Rapid City off Exit 61 on I-90.

Boat docks have been installed at Sheridan Lake, Deerfield and Pactola Reservoirs. The Forest also offers two marina permits. Pactola Pines at Pactola Reservoir and The Marina at Sheridan Lake provide boat rentals, snacks and beverages, picnic supplies, and other summer season amenities. 

The Forest Service and South Dakota Game Fish & Parks (SDGF&P) are working together to help prevent the spread of Zebra Mussels. Watercraft Inspection/Decontamination (WID) stations will be operated at Pactola Reservoir by SDGF&P. All watercraft encountering a WID station, including non-motorized watercraft (canoes, kayaks, SUPs, and inflatables) will be inspected. Inspection stations are the first line of defense in preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. WID stations are equipped with hot water sprayers (140-120˚F) that can kill any residual invasive mussel tissue or other aquatic invasive species.

Access to forest recreational facilities will be impacted during Highway 385 and Highway 244 construction. For information on Highway 385 construction, please visit For the latest updates on the Highway 385 project, text “US385” to 605-566-4041. For information on Highway 244 construction, visit

For more information on Black Hills National Forest, visit

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