Backcountry Camping

a tent in a grassy meadow overlooking the forest and prairie
A tent sits on a ridge with clouds in the distance.

NPS Photo / Kim Acker

Backcountry camping is allowed only in the northwest area of the park. This area, north of Beaver Creek, east of Hwy. 87, south of NPS 5 and west of Highland Creek Trail, holds several different habitats - prairie, forest, and riparian - each with a variety of plants and wildlife. Several marked trails wind through that section of the park. Off-trail hiking is allowed here and throughout the park, as well.

A free permit is required for all backcountry camping. Permits are issued at the visitor center. At this time, permits are located on a bulletin board in front of the visitor center. Please follow all instructions attached to the permit.

Please call the visitor center if you have any questions: (605) 745-4600


  • All backcountry campsites must be at least 1/4 mile from and out of sight of any road. Campsites also must be 100 feet (33 meters) away from any trail or water source.
  • Please practice Leave No Trace principles during your visit. Pack out all items you bring in with you.
  • Carry all the drinking water you will need as there are few water sources in the park. Boil or filter any water obtained in the backcountry.
  • Open fires are not allowed. Use self-contained fuel stoves for cooking in the backcountry. Wildfire threat is moderate to extreme most of the year.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and wildlife at all times. Bison may appear tame but are unpredictable and may charge without warning.
  • Do not disturb or remove plants, wildlife, antlers or bones, or any other cultural or natural feature.
  • Pets, bicycles, and motorized equipment are not allowed in the backcountry.

Last updated: July 21, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

Contact Us