South Dakota is a backpackers dream! Filled with national parks, nature preserves, and even wilderness, you can pack up your tents, choose your locations and get ready to spend a glorious night under the stars. Sleep in your sleeping bag with your sleeping pads for extra added comfort.
The Black Hills National Forest is a prime spot for backpacking, with at least four primary areas to backpack and numerous trail heads leading from those areas. You can plan a backpacking adventure to last for a month and never see the same area twice.
Black Elk Wilderness
One of those areas is the Black Elk Wilderness. It’s the only wilderness area in the entire national park, making it unique from the rest. It covers more than 13,000 acres alone, giving you plenty of wilderness to explore. This area is for those who like roughing it, without developed facilities and horseback riding and hiking being the only forms of transportation permitted. When you head to the wilderness, you leave the high-tech, high-stress world behind and enter the isolation the wilderness has to offer.
The closest towns to this wilderness are Custer and Keystone and the forest service works very hard to protect this area. If you are planning to backpack here, human powered tools are allowed but nothing electric or mechanical. This area is known for deer ticks, so dress appropriately, hiking pants and a good hiking shirt or jacket is a good idea. Make sure you are aware of the rules so that you too can help protect the beauty of the Black Elk Wilderness.
Rapid City of Central Hills
If the wilderness isn’t your thing or you are just ready for something new, venture on over to Rapid City in the Central Hills. There are a variety of things to do, including bicycling, camping in a cabin, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and more. You can indulge in any of the exciting activities and then hit the trails to find a great place to sleep for the night and set up your tent and enjoy a nice evening or two under the stars.
Northern Hills at Spearfish
In the Northern Hills at Spearfish, there are five designated trails for backpacking. Depending on what time of year you visit South Dakota, you may end up backpacking through the snow. If you prefer to travel by snowmobile, there are over 300 miles of trails for you to travel. Skiing, horseback riding, and biking are also options, depending on the time of year.
Whether you are looking for a wilderness terrain to set up your trail tent or you prefer a snowy mountainous area to bunker down in your sleeping bag to keep warm, there is a place for you to go backpacking in South Dakota.
You can go off grid without electricity and spend time in nature, finding yourself, getting to know friends better or strengthening your family relationships. Pack your backpacking bag and get ready for a thrilling adventure in the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota.