Can you disperse camp in Black Hills National Forest?

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Black Hills National Forest signboard - Can you disperse camp in this place?

Dispersed camping is for those who don’t need all the amenities that campgrounds in the National forests have to offer the general public and would rather be one with nature completely. The Black Hills National Forest occupies both Wyoming and South Dakota.

Dispersed camping is allowed in the National Forest if you want to avoid ‘developed fee sites’; however, many rules and regulations still need to be followed. Let’s discuss everything you need to know about dispersed camping in the Black Hills National Forest.


Where Should You Pick Your Location?

You can choose many different locations, but it’s essential to follow the general rules of any site you might be considering. Location regulations are listed below, according to the Forest Service.

Think twice if you are interested in dispersing camping nearby reservoirs or campgrounds. If you are close to any of these points of interest, you should camp at the designated campsites.

Choose a spot at least 100 feet from campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation areas. Doing so is not permitted.


For How Long Can You Stay?

According to the Forest Service, for dispersed camping specifically, you can camp for a maximum of 14 days within any 60-day period. Creating reservations for the campsites is recommended if you decide that dispersed camping is not for you.

Due to high demand and many wanting to camp in the Black Hills National Forest, it’s essential to take the time to make these reservations. For it may be challenging to find a spot otherwise.


Do you Have to Pay?

Dispersed camping is typically free. However, camping at campsites located in Wyoming does require a fee. On the other hand, the South Dakota side of the Black Hills National Forest is said to have specific campgrounds that are free to the general public.

Prices regarding the campsites can vary depending on different factors. Usually, campgrounds cost just under $30 per night with extra fees for multiple vehicles. Also, note that dogs are not permitted to come to every Black Hills campground regardless of your side.


Do you Have to Register?

If you are dispersed camping, you will typically not have to register. If you are to violate the rules of dispersed camping, you may need to provide information to the forest service. However, if you are utilizing one of 30 campgrounds in the Black Hills, you must register.

More specifically, if you are making reservations online for a campsite, you are likely to provide information in order to do so.


Spots You Need to Avoid

As stated before, you must also avoid places when camping in the Black Hills National Forest. These locations include any specific area at least 100 feet away from the areas listed below.


  • Campgrounds
  • Reservoirs
  • Creeks/Streams
  • Picnic Areas
  • Any other developed bodies of water or possible recreation sites with amenities.


Final Thoughts on Camping in Black Hills National Forest

When dispersed camping in the Black Hills National Forest, there are rules you have to follow. These rules conclude that you must stay away from any recreation sites or bodies of water, for these areas are prohibited from dispersed camping.

You can stay for a maximum of 14 days in a 60-day period. The only fees required for camping in the forest are exclusive to those who utilize the campgrounds and their amenities. Dispersed camping requires no registration.