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7 Stunning Places in South Dakota

For the past 2 weeks, we have been traveling around the stunning state of South Dakota in our RV. Despite covering a lot of ground, I strongly suggest paying a visit to the locations highlighted in this blog. I am focusing solely on the places that left a lasting impression on us. Be sure to explore these must-visit spots in South Dakota.


Spearfish, SD is located on the far west side of South Dakota, approximately 90 minutes from Badlands National Park. I learned about Spearfish through a fellow influencer and by golly I wish I would have done more research before going. I knew I wanted to hike in Spearfish Canyon but I would have loved to spend more time in the area. It is beautiful! We took the Rough Locks hike which is approximately 2 miles out-and-back. It looked like a storybook. I was actually obsessed. The trail is a segment of a handful of other trails in the area so you are able to make the hike a bit longer if desired. Spearfish Canyon is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Custer State Park

Custer State Park is a must when visiting South Dakota. This was my first time here and although I looked at maps and researched hikes ahead of time, I did not realize how HUGE it is! It was quite hot this day (high of 90* F) and although we arrived by 9:30am, hiking was already becoming strenuous in the heat. We chose two short hikes but then drove through the park exploring a bit as well. We got to see a bison cross the road! They terrify me, but they are fun to watch.

Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest is absolutely stunning. We disperse camped in a few different areas of the forest throughout our time in South Dakota. My favorite was a spot right outside of Wind Cave National Park. Note: this park is not on my list because I didn't love it. But I did absolutely love the spot we had down the road. There are so many free places to stay in the forest and so many activities to be had! Tons of hiking trails, ATV trails, equestrian trails, etc.

Devil's Gulch

Our journey in South Dakota began in the southeastern part of the state, where we decided to camp in Garretson for a week. During our stay, we stumbled upon Devil's Gulch, a delightful surprise located less than a mile from our campsite. Nestled within the red quartzite canyon, Devil's Gulch offers a plethora of hiking trails and stunning vistas.

Palisades State Park

Our time at Palisades State Park involved some exploration. Regrettably, the roads were being worked on during our visit, leading to some stress. Nevertheless, we managed to go on a few hikes. Palisades State Park is traversed by Split Rock Creek, which is surrounded by Sioux quartzite formations, offering truly breathtaking views!

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area

During our trip, we also visited Lake Vermillion Recreation Area. I want to mention this particular stop because it truly stood out as one of the finest "paid" campsites I've experienced, despite the relatively high cost of $37 for a single night. The lake teemed with fish constantly leaping out of the water. Additionally, we were fortunate enough to spot a couple of deer and wild turkeys during our stay. If you enjoy lakeside activities, this destination is a must-visit.


Although I highly recommend Badlands National Park, we didn't visit it during our South Dakota trip. The park isn't very accommodating to dogs, and since I've been there before, I chose to skip it on this occasion. Instead, we spent a week in the RV at "The Wall," an area outside the Badlands that offers free camping. The scenery is stunning, there are plenty of friendly people around, and you can even enjoy watching free-range cattle chomping on grass in the distance.


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