Park regulations are enforced for your safety and for the protection of the park and its natural resources. To ensure that your visit is more enjoyable, please follow the rules. See the Park Handbook and click the headings below to learn more.
- Camping permitted only in areas designated for camping.
- Electrical hook-ups are available only to campers registered on an electrical site. Extension cords may not be run from one campsite to another.
- Generator use - Applies to visitors to Custer State Park. Generators can be operated limitedly from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but for no more than 2 hours at a time.
- Camping Unit - A camping unit is a powered vehicle, motor home, camping bus, pull-type camper, tent or any other device designed for sleeping. Additional tents for a family (parents or grandparents and unmarried minor children) are considered a single camping unit.
- Campsite Occupancy - The maximum occupancy for a campsite is 6.
- Maximum Stay - Maximum number of consecutive nights that a camper may stay at any one state park area is 14, unless given written consent by the park manager.
- View all reservation information including reservation guidelines, cancelation or changes information, and payment and fees in the Park Handbook.
- Parks close to day use from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- Quiet hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. year-round. Please consider others in the park at all times. Disturbances caused by loud music, bright lights or disorderly conduct can lead to expulsion from the park.
- Vehicles allowed after closing hours - Only registered campers and those involved in lawful fishing, boating, hunting, trapping or snowmobiling activities are allowed in the park when it is closed for the night.
- Daily Entrance License Expiration - Daily entrance licenses expire at the start of quiet hours on the day they are issued, or, if issued to registered campers, at 4 p.m. the following day.
- At Custer State Park, seven-day temporary licenses expire at 6 p.m. on the seventh day of the visitor's stay.
- Check in time
- Campsites: at Custer – 12 p.m., all other parks – 4 p.m.
- Lodges: 4 p.m.
- Camping cabins: 4 p.m.
- Checkout time
- Campsites: at Custer, 12 p.m.; all other parks, 4 p.m.
- Lodges: 11 a.m.
- Camping cabins: 11 a.m.
Drone Use On or Above South Dakota State Park Lands
Any operation of a drone in South Dakota shall comply with all applicable federal aviation administration requirements and state laws.
In Accordance with Federal and State Law, a Drone Must:
- Be registered with the FAA.
- Fly within visual line of sight.
- Fly below 400 feet.
- Fly only during daylight.
- Not be used to eavesdrop or engage in any other type of surveillance in a private place.
- Not be used to deliver contraband.
- Not be used to hunt, kill, take, concentrate, drive, rally, stir up, spot, or locate game birds, or animals.
- Not fly in a manner that causes serious public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to any other person, makes unreasonable noise; disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons, or obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
- Not fly in a manner which interferes with the management of the area or the authorized use of the area by others.
Guidelines for Safe and Courteous Drone Operation On or Above South Dakota State Park Lands:
- Fly in a manner that respects privacy.
- Do not fly over people or groups of people (ie. campgrounds, beaches or playgrounds, festivals or gatherings when people are present).
- Do not fly in a careless or reckless manner.
- Do not fly near other aircraft.
- Do not fly if operator is in a moving vehicle.
- Do not fly if operator is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not fly near emergencies such as accidents, fires, or weather related incidents.
- Do not fly near or harass bison or wildlife.
Use of Drone over State Park Land for Commercial Filming/Photography:
Contact the local park manager or complete the online Filming/Photography Permit.
A complete policy regarding drone use on Game, Fish and Parks property can be found here.
- Leashes - Pets must be on a leash no longer than 10 feet at all times.
- Outside of campgrounds and day use areas - Pets must be under immediate control and more than 200 feet from other park guests.
- Areas where pets are not allowed
- Pets (except service animals) are not allowed on designated swimming beaches, in any park buildings (including welcome centers and comfort stations) or on the Summit Trail at Bear Butte State Park.
- Scoop it - Owners must clean up after their pets.
- Horses - Keep horses on designated bridle trails or in the parks' designated equestrian areas. Horses can damage native vegetation and their behavior around others can be unpredictable.
- Lodging - Dogs and cats are allowed in pet designated lodges, cabins and suites with the payment of a pet accommodation fee. View the Pet-Friendly Cabins list or verify if a specific lodge, cabin, or suite is pet designated during reservation or by contacting the park directly.
- Operation - Motor vehicles must stay on established roads and parking lots. Only licensed vehicles and operators may operate on park roads and a valid park entrance license must be affixed to the vehicle.
- Speed Limit - All State Parks - The speed limit in all state parks and recreation areas (unless otherwise posted) is 20 mph. Please be cautious in campgrounds and other busy areas.
- Speed Limit – Custer - highway and interior gravel roads maximum speed limit is 35 mph. Campgrounds, lakes, and day use area roadways' maximum speed limit is 15 mph.
- ATVs and Scooters - View rules for off-highway vehicles in state parks.
- All State Parks - Gas or electric powered ATVs, scooters and golf carts must be street legal and be operated by a licensed operator only on designated roads or the state off-road vehicle areas.
- Custer - Only licensed ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are permitted in Custer State Park. Travel is restricted to established designated roadways in Custer State Park. No off-road, unlicensed, ATV use is permitted except to retrieve game by licensed hunters during established hunting seasons in Custer State Park.
- Propane cooking stoves or enclosed cooking grills are allowed within established campgrounds and picnic areas.
- Allowed only at designated campsites and in approved fireplaces, stoves or grills.
- Do not build large roaring fires and be sure your campfire is DEAD OUT before turning in for the night or departing.
Help slow the spread of Emerald Ash Borer into our state parks:
- Do not bring wood that has been within the quarantine area into any South Dakota state park unless it has a label affixed certifying it as emerald ash borer treated and safe to move.
- In parks located within the quarantine area, outside firewood must have a label affixed certifying it as emerald ash borer treated and safe to move.
- Firewood is available for purchase in the parks or from local stores outside the quarantine area.
- Smooth dimensional lumber scraps are acceptable if sized to fit within the firegrate. Wood containing nails, screws, or hardware - including rough and pallet lumber - cannot be brought into any state park area to be used as firewood.
- If you purchase firewood from a state park within the quarantine area, do not remove it from the park.
Thanks for doing your part to protect our parks from this destructive insect-one that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in at least 32 states.
- All types of fireworks are prohibited on state-managed lands.
- No Jumping or Diving
- A person may not jump or dive from cliffs, rock formations or bridges into the water at Palisades State Park, Custer State Park, Big Sioux Recreation Area and Angostura Recreation Area.
- Alcoholic beverages may be consumed and possessed in state park areas except the following locations:
- Lake Alvin Recreation Area: No person may consume or possess any alcoholic beverage when entering, using, or occupying the designated zoned swimming beach area.
- Bear Butte State Park: No person may consume or possess any alcoholic beverage when entering, using or occupying the lands inside the boundary of the park on the east side of Highway 79.
- South Dakota state laws apply to the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages in all other state park areas.
- Glass Containers are prohibited within the posted area at zoned swimming beaches.
- No person may use a metal detector on lands owned, leased, managed, or controlled by the department without written authorization from the site manager.
- Metal detector use granted by a permit and will only be allowed if you are
- Recreational metal detecting on designated swimming beaches.
- Department staff performing operations tasks.
- Archaeologists performing official research (they must first have a permit from the State Archaeologist before a Department permit can be issued.)
- Looking for a lost personal item. When looking for a lost personal item, the person needs to describe the lost item to the site manager issuing the permit. If the area to be searched is not within a designated swimming beach, digging will not be permitted since the lost item will most likely be above the surface.
- Before a permit is issued, the site manager needs to explain the special conditions and restrictions stated on the permit. By the permittee signing the permit, they acknowledge the limitations and restrictions set forth by the permit.
- These are valuable resources within all South Dakota parks. Please leave all plants, living or dead, where you find them. Many of these plants provide shelter and food for wildlife.
- It is against the law to remove or damage any plants, rocks, natural formations, historic relics, antlers, skulls or any other natural features from state parks. Please protect our cultural resources.
- Penalties are stiff.
- Place all garbage and trash in its proper receptacle.
- Aluminum, tin cans, glass, and plastic are collected for recycling in marked bins. When hiking, make sure you pack in/pack out all trash.
Recreational spotlighting is allowed in Custer State Park with the following exception: Recreational spotlighting is prohibited from 10 p.m. to sunrise from September 1 - January 31. During this timeframe no person may operate an artificial light (except headlights) to spot or locate any animal. Possession of firearms or any weapon that could be used to take game is prohibited while recreational spotlighting animals.
- Uncased firearms and bows can be possessed only by licensed hunters during established seasons and are permitted on designated rifle and archery ranges year-round.
- Archery and firearm hunting - Allowed in some state parks and recreation areas during the state's established seasons.
- Uncased firearms and bows are prohibited year-round in all designated campgrounds and at Bear Butte State Park (east of Hwy 79), Beaver Creek Nature Area, Lake Herman State Park, Spring Creek Recreation Area, Spirit Mound Historic Prairie and Oahe Downstream Recreation Area (except during special disabled hunting events).
- Prohibited Firearms - Uncased .22-caliber firearms, air guns, BB guns, slingshots and paintball guns are not allowed in the parks with the exception of designated Shooting Ranges.
Allowed only with permission from the park manager.