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Get Soggy with Free Camping at South Dakota's Angostura Reservoir

Posted on February 01 2021

Get Soggy with Free Camping at South Dakota's Angostura Reservoir

Shh! This free camping option in Western South Dakota is one of those ‘locals only’ spots boondockers scour the web for. Fact is, in my younger days I worked as the Park Naturalist at Angastora for a summer. Yet even I did not know about this campsite. My cousins introduced me to it this past summer. Let’s hope they forgive me for outing the location. 

A large prairie reservoir, near the town Hot Springs, Angostura is a popular destination for fishing, camping and boating. Quiet mornings can provide smooth water for kayakers and other paddles. Winds come up later in the day, making it a favorite for wind surfing or getting Hobie Cats out on the water. 

Game Fish and Parks Lake View Game Fish and Parks Dam View

Photos from South Dakota Game Fish & Parks

Name: Angostura Reservoir, South Side

Cost: $0

Site type(s): Tent, van, RV - its all good. Parking is on level grass. There are no hook ups, some (aprox 8) fire rings, a boat ramp and a pit toilet. The spaces are first come first serve. Most are under trees.  Next to the trees there is room for a few (2-3 larger rigs). If they are full you can turn around in the boat ramp parking lot, but it's a long drive back to the highway. 

Location: The southern end of Angostura Reservoir, off Road 6D ( both 6 and 6D are gravel country roads).

Directions: The site recommended here is at the end of a long gravel road off either HWY 18 up from Nebraska (or down form Rapid City) or 71 out of Hot Springs. The area is directly on the lake between a boat dock and some nearby residential homes.

If driving in on 71, you will want to stop and take some photos at the tiny country school house where you turn onto Road 6. Even the leaning outhouse is charming.

Map of Angastora


As you can see by the map, Angastora State Recreation Area, offers many campground options. They are nicely located, easily accessible and great options for those who can comfortably pay to camp. Nonetheless the free spot is a great find got boondockers. 

Best features: This is the place to meet up with local nature lovers in a laid back environment and get the inside scoop on other camping and outdoor activities in the region. 

Worst features:  Not frequently patrolled, except by the game warden, so if locals are partying or holding spots for friends (for days in advance) you just have to go with the flow. Like all S. Dakota prairie lakes flies can be an issue mid to late summer. Keep your doors closed, specially when cooking inside your RV or van. Intense winds can come up fast. Never leave awnings up/unattended, even when leaving camp for a short time. 

Website(s): South Dakota Game Fish and Parks 

Additional info: Due to the long gravel road try your best to arrive fully stocked up. It's a heck of a drive for toilet paper. Hot Springs has the closest real grocery stores, an Ace Hardware and a variety of restaurants.

Tips: When in town with an RV take advantage of the free RV Tank Dump Station with potable water in the Hot Springs Convention Center parking lot. Also, you  get excellent 5G Internet sitting in your vehicle in the library parking lot. 

Please keep the area clean and treat it with respect. I don’t want to regret giving up my family’s secret campsite.



What’s up with the bandana store?

That’s a fair question. I am a RETIRED guidebook author/travel columnist. While I still enjoying sharing my discoveries with fellow travelers who appreciate camping and nature, fancy blogs and vlogs are not my thing. Thus, I use this empty blog space, which came free with my shop website, to share information with other nomads.

I hope you find my travel tips helpful. If you do, please consider taking the time to share a link to a product you like or to my website ( on social media. Good trade? This little store pays for my nomadic ways, which I pull off on an extreme shoestring budget. Your help in keeping me on the road/in my kayak is truly appreciated.

Happy camping everyone!

Nola Lee Kelsey


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