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Recommended Tent Camping Locations - SD
South Dakota Tent Camping Trip
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A drive down South Dakota’s Highway 14 is the consummate road trip. Your adventure starts in the rolling plains of the state’s eastern half, where the romantic vision of frontier life is alive and well. Begin your South Dakota tent camping tour in Brookings. This would-be quiet frontier town is actually a hotbed of culture, thanks in large part to the presence of South Dakota State University, the state’s largest educational institution. While in town, don’t miss your chance to see the impressive South Dakota Arboretum and McCrory Gardens, a 70-acre expanse that captures the natural beauty of eastern South Dakota. Oakwood Lakes State Park is one of the South Dakota tent campgrounds to check out in the area.
Heading west you’ll come upon the town of Huron. As South Dakota approached annexation, Huron stood on the brink of being named state capital. It eventually lost out to Pierre, but Huron still succeeded at becoming an economic and cultural hub of the area. One of the most impressive and nostalgic areas in Huron is the dramatic Campbell Park Historic District, which showcases dozens of Queen Anne and Colonial architecture. And, if you find yourself in Huron during August, you’re sure to have a ball at the South Dakota State Fair.
South of Huron, if you take a detour along SR-37 to the town of Mitchell, you’ll discover the Corn Palace. First built in 1892, the palace murals are decorated annually with more than 2,000 bushels of corn, with more than 10 different shades of corn.
If your experience in Huron only whets your proverbial appetite to see the state capital, then by all means go west on US-14 to Pierre. Nestled along the banks of the mighty Missouri River, Pierre is a magnificent display of South Dakota’s past and present. Brush up on the area’s history at the Cultural Heritage Center before heading over to the State Capital, one of America’s finest capital buildings. There are also numerous South Dakota tent camping sites here to choose from. Just to name a few, Cow Creek, Okobojo Point SRA and West Bend SRA are some choice South Dakota tent campgrounds.
(Travelers Advisory: Be aware that there are three neighboring locations in this area with the name “Pierre” in them. The state capital, as mentioned; the actual outpost known as Fort Pierre and the adjacent town of Fort Pierre, described next.)
Our next stop requires a hop across the Missouri River to Fort Pierre, founded by the American Fur Company in 1832. The town still remains close to its rough-and-tumble heritage, where cowboys and cowgirls ran the town. But this friendly little stop is a terrific jumping off point to explore the great western part of the state. US-14 then zigzags its way southwest until it ends at Interstate 90. South Dakota tent camping is available here at Downstream North. But your adventure is now just beginning. I-90 will bring you to what is some of the finest – and most underrated! – regions for South Dakota tent camping in all of North America, at least if dramatic landscape is your thing. Southwest South Dakota offers a laundry list of amazing sites and riveting stopovers, including the Black Hills, the Badlands, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, and the incomparable Mount Rushmore. Enjoy!
US-14 west leaves South Dakota after Spearfish, but before you do, just north of Belle Fourche on Hwy. 85 is the geographic center of the U.S. You can’t get more in-the-middle of America than that.
It is believed that the third longest cave in the world can be found in the hills of Jewel Cave National Monument. The area certainly has its own unique brand of Old West history. The last great gold rush left behind boomtowns and mining camps Like Custer City and Deadwood. Some of the greatest legends of the west were no strangers to this region; Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, General George Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Jedediah Smith, among them.
The town of Wall, along I-90, is home to one of South Dakota’s most visited sites, Wall Drug Store, which opened its doors in 1931. It survived the depression-era by serving water to travelers. Nowadays, ice is free and coffee still costs a nickel. It’s got an old-fashioned soda fountain as well as an emporium, art galleries and Western-themed restaurants, museums and entertainment – and 6,000 pair of cowboy boots, to-boot!
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