Leave No Trace
South Dakota has gorgeous National Parks and National Forest lands that are visited by millions of travelers each year. These beautiful lands are home to thousands of plant and animal species that depend on visitors to be their stewards.
Plan Ahead & Prepare
“Know before you go!”
- Learn everything you can about the area you plan to visit and the regulations for its use.
- Be aware that there are several spots in the Black Hills and the Badlands where there is no cell service.
- Use maps not apps – map out your destination on a paper map (available at any gas station in South Dakota). Because there is no cell service in many areas of South Dakota, you cannot rely only on your cell phone GPS.
Travel & Camp in Designated Areas
- Use established, designated roads, trails and campsites.
- Do not wander. Each year, people get seriously hurt and some die because they get lost in the Black Hills and the Badlands.
- Walk and ride on designated paths to protect trailside plants. Avoid stepping on flowers and small trees – once damaged, they may never grow back.
Share the Trails
- Don’t disturb others; make sure your fun does not bother others.
- Listen to nature. Avoid making loud noises or yelling. You will enjoy more of our abundant wildlife if you are peaceful.
- Be considerate when passing others on a trail.
Dispose of Waste Properly
“Pack it in, pack it out!”
- Put litter-even crumbs, peels and cores-in garbage bags and pack it out to a garbage can.
- Use bathrooms or outhouses where available. If not available, bury human waste in a small hole 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from water.
- Use a plastic bag to pick up your pet’s solid waste and pack it out to a garbage can.
- Keep water clean. Do not put soap, food, or human or pet waste in lakes or streams.
Leave What You Find*
*In many areas of South Dakota, it is against the law to remove anything.
- Leave plants, rocks, fossils, artifacts, etc. as you find them.
- Do not touch or disturb any bird nests you may come across.
- Treat living plants with respect. Do not alter the landscape by breaking branches, picking flowers, etc.
- Observe wildlife from a distance and NEVER approach, follow or feed them.
- Seal food tightly and store out of reach when camping.
- Control pets at all times. The Black Hills are home to predators like mountain lions.
Minimize Use & Impact of Fire*
*There are many areas in South Dakota, even designated camping areas, where fire is strictly prohibited.
- Use a camp stove for cooking.
- If you want to have a campfire, first make sure a campfire is safe (Low Fire Danger) and permitted in the area you’re visiting. If campfires are allowed, use only the provided, designated fire ring. Keep your fire small. The Black Hills contain more than one million acres of trees.
- Campfires are not trash cans – dispose of all trash in provided trash cans-if none are provided at your location pack out your trash.
- Before gathering firewood check local regulations. Do not cut trees for firewood. Gather only small pieces of wood found on the ground (firewood bundles are also available for purchase at most gas stations and grocery stores).
- NEVER leave your fire until it is completely out and cold. Burn all wood down to ash. Extinguish coals/embers with water if necessary.