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Lisa's bus at Discover BLM Camping in South Dakota, at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

Discover BLM Camping in South Dakota, at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

Why BLM camp?

Camping is the perfect way to get away from the busyness and noise of life and connect with nature. However, sometimes finding campsites can be tough—especially if you’re on a spontaneous adventure and don’t have campsites booked months in advance. Dispersed camping on BLM-managed public land offers amazing areas to camp all over the country. While some BLM-managed campgrounds require a fee, many dispersed camping areas on public lands allow you to camp at no charge. There is typically a limit to how many you can camp in these areas within a specific time period. It varies from area to area and there are also rules for how long you can leave your camping set up unattended, so be sure to do your research in advance.

While these camping areas run on a first come, first served basis, they offer some of the most stunning views in the best locations. With many located right outside or even within national parks, they are a great alternative if you’re not able to secure a campsite in advance at a campground or if you’re looking to save money instead of racking up nightly campground rates that tend to add up fast over the course of a big trip.  

Unbelievable views at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

One dispersed site with unbelievable views is in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands in the area just south of Wall, South Dakota. Marked as the “Badlands Boondocking Area” on Google Maps, this dispersed camping area on National Forest land known as the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands is located directly outside the entrance to Badlands National Park. This dispersed camping area is directly on the edge of the Badlands, so with its rock formations and breathtaking views it usually draws quite a few campers. However, there are quite a few camping spots that accommodate a good number of campers.

While the spots closest to the edge of the cliff, typically go first because of the views, but there are lots of spots to go around. Due to its location, this area is a bit windy, so be sure to secure your items. Note that like most dispersed camping areas, there is no water, restrooms, trash, or other facilities here, so plan accordingly to be sure you are prepared. Also, always remember to “leave no trace” and collect your trash, belongings, etc. before you leave.

Photo by Lisa Valentine, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

To get to this location, follow the GPS coordinates (43.890031, -102.226789). Shortly before arriving at the Badlands Pinnacles Entrance Station to Badlands National Park, take a left to where you’ll see a road along the canyon with camping pull off spots dotted along both sides of the road. Due to the popularity of the area, you’ll likely see RVs, vans, and car campers already staking out spots, so you’ll know you’re in the right place. If you make it to the Badlands National Park entrance station, you’ve gone too far.

Mesmerizing rock formations

The Badlands below offer the most mesmerizing rock formations with a vastness that stretches on for miles. The golden hour colors of this area are magical and the night sky is enchanting. Take some time to enjoy the plethora of stars in this area with little light interference. The remarkable night sky you’re camping under progresses into an equally incredible sunrise. Be sure to get up bright and early at this camping area because the sunrise over the Badlands is not to be missed. The bright colors of the rising sun are amplified against the neutral tones of the rocks, making for a radiant sight.

This dispersed camping location is also a surefire way to beat out lines at Badlands National Park since you’re practically camping right outside the park entrance. This convenient location allows you to take in the sunrise and head straight into the park to get an early start on hiking and touring this incredibly scenic area of South Dakota. You’ll also see wildlife in this area, so keep an eye out for the prairie dogs as they pop in and out of their holes all around this park.

This camping area is located about eight miles south of Wall, South Dakota, known for Wall Drug.   You’re bound to see countless signs and bumper stickers on your drive through South Dakota for this roadside attraction of a drug store—complete with massive animal structures around the town of Wall. Whether you stop out of pure curiosity or you need to stretch your legs, grab a bit to eat, or get any last minute supplies, take a detour to Wall Drug to see what all of the buzz is about.

Add Buffalo Gap National Grasslands to your list!

If you’re looking for a convenient spot to camp for the night with views you’ll never forget definitely add this dispersed camping area at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands to your list.

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