Black Hills National Forest campgrounds, seasonal gates open this weekend

The Forest Service would like to remind the public that even if a road or trail is open, driving on soft surfaces or where rutting has been observed should be avoided until drier conditions arrive.
Timon Campground

photo courtesy: Black Hills National Forest Service

CUSTER, S.D. — Campgrounds and seasonal gates in the Black Hills National Forest are set to open for the summer season this weekend, with campgrounds opening Friday, May 14 and seasonal gates opening Saturday, May 15.

The BHNF has more than 30 campgrounds and 680 individual sites across the regions, some operated under concession by Forest Recreation Management out of Hill City. Fees range from $14 to $26 dollars per night; group camping is also available with advanced reservations near Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake. Electric, sewer, water hook-ups, and showers are not available, most campgrounds have potable water and either flush or vault toilets.

Due to high demand, reservations are recommended. Early reservation sales for Black Hills campgrounds point to a strong outdoor recreation season this year, after the lockdowns and quarantines during 2020. KOAs in the area are up over 60 % — visitors began booking in December.

Of note, Cook Lake Campground and Cliff Swallow Trail in the Bearlodge Ranger District will open Friday, May 14. Cook Lake has been open for day-use only due to landslide concerns and a spillway reconstruction project. Landslide monitoring – including an audible siren – will continue on the west side of the lake, and that area will remain closed to the public.

Click here to make reservations. All seasonal closed roads and trails are marked on the current Motor Vehicle Use Map (click here).

The Forest Service would like to remind the public that even if a road or trail is open, driving on soft surfaces or where rutting has been observed should be avoided until drier conditions arrive. Roads and trails in the Hills may be unsuitable for driving at times; damaging forest roads and lands is against the law and penalties can be steep.

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