The Best Outdoor Activities in South Dakota

Discover the best hiking, camping, backpacking, fitness, and more.

Drive Through Badlands National Park

South Dakota / Badlands Scenic Loop

Badlands National Park is on the western edge of South Dakota, about 60 minutes from Rapid City, and is a strikingly different landscape from the mostly flat typography of the state.

Casey Berner
279 Saves

Hike the Badlands' Notch Trail

South Dakota / Notch Trail

Notch Trail is on the south end of the Door Trail car park. The Trail sorta follows a dry river bed but there is also a actual trail you can also follow.

Spud Groshong
201 Saves

Hike to Little Devil's Tower in the Black Hills

South Dakota / Little Devil's Tower Trailhead

The trail starts at the Little Devil's Tower Trailhead which is located roughly one mile east of Sylvan Lake on Highway 87. Take Trail #4 for around 1/2 mile until a fork in the trail.

Jake Young
156 Saves

Hike the Sacred Steps of Bear Mountain

South Dakota / Bear Butte Trail

Bear Mountain or Mathó Pahá as it's called by the Lakota peoples, is the leftover remnants of an ancient volcanic plug.

Michael Wigle
144 Saves

Hiking to Harney Peak

South Dakota / Harney Peak Trailhead

The Harney Peak Trailhead #9 is located in the northwest corner of the parking lot just beyond Sylvan Lake.

Spud Groshong
139 Saves

Backcountry Camp off the Fossil Trailhead, Badlands NP

South Dakota / Fossil Exhibit Trailhead

Backcountry camping at Badlands National Park is very easy. While it is recommended that you contact a staff member at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center or Pinnacles Entrance Station, it is not required.

Cameron Cech
128 Saves

Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road

South Dakota / Badlands National Park Parking Area

A labyrinth of gullies, hoodoos, and ravines, Badlands National Park in western South Dakota is a welcome break from the unrelenting flatness of the surrounding prairie.

Joe Whitson
123 Saves

Tour Wind Cave

South Dakota / Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center

Established in 1903, Wind Cave National Park is home to over 140 miles of mapped cave passages.

Jason Hatfield
75 Saves

Tour Jewel Cave

South Dakota / Jewel Cave National Monument

Established in 1908, Jewel Cave National Monument is home to over 179 miles of mapped cave passages.

Jason Hatfield
62 Saves

Stargaze at Spokane Ghost Town

South Dakota / Spokane Ghost Town

Great all year long but, especially stunning when the galactic center of the Milky Way is visible from Spring to Fall, Spokane Ghost Town is a local favorite and a hidden gem.

Michaela Mader
59 Saves

Hike the Lookout Point Loop at Wind Cave National Park

South Dakota / Wind Cave National Park

The Lookout Point Loop actually combines parts of three trails to bring you through some of Wind Cave's best prairieland.

Joe Whitson
52 Saves

Hike to Poet's Table

South Dakota / Little Devil's Tower Trailhead

This hike starts at the Little Devil's Towers trailhead just east of Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.

Isaac Parsons
48 Saves

Photograph Sunset at Wind Cave NP

South Dakota / Gobbler Pass

Above the famous Wind Cave, miles of natural mixed-grass natural prairie cover the Black Hills.

Jason Hatfield
38 Saves

Hike the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

South Dakota / Cliff Shelf Nature Trailhead

About 4 miles south of the Northeast Park Entrance, just past the Castle Trailhead, is the Cliff Shelf Nature Trailhead.

Michael Wigle
24 Saves

Explore the Frozen Waterfalls of Spearfish Canyon

South Dakota / Spearfish Canyon

There are a multitude of frozen waterfalls throughout Spearfish Canyon. Some require a short hike and others can be seen from the road.

Jake Young
23 Saves

Camp at Black Fox Campground

South Dakota / Black Fox Campground

Black Fox is 9 miles west of Rochford has nine campsites along the Rhoads Fork Creek where it meets up with the South Fork of Rapid Creek.

Isaac Parsons
12 Saves

Hike to the Cathedral Spires in the Black Hills

South Dakota / Cathedral Spires Trailhead

This trail starts at the parking lot along the Needles Highway. Follow the trail to the spires.

Ben NoLastName
11 Saves

Cross-Country Ski the Big Hill Trails

South Dakota / Big Hill Trailhead

From Spearfish, head south on Tinton Rd. for roughly 8 miles. There will be a large parking lot to your right with a pit toilet and an information kiosk.

Jake Young
3 Saves

Fly Fish from the Rapid Creek Trailhead

South Dakota / Rapid Creek Trail Head

To get the the trailhead for Rapid Creek you must turn to the east onto Pactola Basin Road or FS road 164 when on Highway 385 crossing the Pactola Reservoir.

Isaac Parsons
2 Saves

Camp at Elk Mountain Campground in Wind Cave National Park

South Dakota / Elk Mountain Campground

Elk Mountain Campground is in a secluded area of the park, providing plenty of peace and quiet.

Kelley Dodge
2 Saves