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State Park Rules & Regulations

Park regulations are enforced for your safety and for the protection of the park and the area wildlife. To ensure that your visit is more enjoyable, please follow these rules.


Entrance permits

Required year-round for all vehicles entering parks designated as fee areas. Failure to comply with the entrance license requirement will result in additional fees or fines.

Self Registration

When entrance stations are not staffed, a self-registration entrance permit system will be used. Signs with instructions and necessary materials are located at park entrances. Failure to comply with the self-registration entrance permit requirement will result in additional fees or fines.

Temporary Pass (Custer State Park)

7-day temporary permits expire at 6 p.m. during the seventh day of the visitor's stay.

NonProfit Youth Groups

Nonprofit youth groups are eligible for discount camping.

Disabled Veterans

Certain disabled veterans are eligible for free park entrance and discount camping.



Permitted only in areas designated for camping.

Electrical hook-ups

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 (Custer)

We ask that generators be operated limitedly from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but no more than 2 hours at a time.


When two units occupy a site, both units must pay camping fees. Double-ups may or may not be available at all campsites due to pad lengths or congestion. Double-ups are not allowed in all campgrounds. Check with park staff to see which campground or specific campsites allow double-ups.

Campsite Occupancy

No more than two camper units may occupy any campsite. Each unit must pay the camping fee.

Size of 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.

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.


Closing Hours | Quiet Hours

  • May 1 to September 30: Parks close from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • October 1 to April 30: Parks close from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Quiet hours also follow these times. Please consider others in the park at all times. Disturbances caused by loud music 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 11 p.m. 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.


Campsites must be re-registered or vacated by 4 p.m., except at Custer State Park where re-registration is required before noon.

Checkout time

Check out time for camping cabins is noon. Checkout time for lodges is 11 a.m.

drone usage

Drone usage is not allowed in any state park or recreation area without permission from a park manager.


Pets / Animals


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 or in any park buildings (including camping cabins, lodges and comfort stations).

Scoop it

Owners must clean up after their pets.


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.



Motor vehicles must stay on established roads and parking lots. Only licensed vehicles 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 miles per hour - this includes campgrounds, lakes, and day use area roadways. Please be cautious in campgrounds and other busy areas.


Custer State Park highway and interior gravel roads maximum speed limit is 35 MPH. Campgrounds, lakes, and day use area roadways' maximum speed limit is 15 MPH.

Watch out for children.

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.


Only licensed ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are permitted in Custer State Park. Travel is restricted on 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.

Cook Stoves / Camp Fires / Fireworks

Cooking Stoves and Grills

Propane cooking stoves or enclosed cooking grills are allowed within established campgrounds and picnic areas.
Campfires: Allowed only at designated campsites and in approved fireplaces, stoves or grills.


Collecting firewood is prohibited. Firewood is available from park staff or concessionaires.

Chainsaws are not permitted in state parks.

Please do not bring out-of-state firewood to the parks.

Fire Safety

Do not build large roaring fires and be sure your campfire is DEAD OUT before turning in for the night or departing.


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 any of the lakes or streams in any state park area.

Alcoholic Beverages

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.

South Dakota state laws apply to the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages in all other state park areas.

Glass Containers

Prohibited within the posted area at zoned swimming beaches.


Metal Detectors

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
  1. Recreational metal detecting on designated swimming beaches.
  2. Department staff performing operations tasks.
  3. Archaeologists performing official research (they must first have a permit from the State Archaeologist before a Department permit can be issued.)
  4. 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.
Download application

Contact (Custer): Email

Wildlife and vegetation

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.

Protect our cultural resources

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.

Don't be a litterbug

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.

Spot Lighting (Custer State Park)

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.

Hunting Handbook

Hunting / Firearms

Uncased firearms and bows

Uncased firearms and bows can be possessed only by licensed hunters and are only 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.

Prohibited Areas

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 handicap hunting events).

Prohibited Firearms

Uncased .22-caliber firearms, air guns, BB guns, slingshots and paintball guns are not allowed in the parks.


Allowed only with permission from the park manager.

Apply online or download application