Epic Winter Camping & Four-Wheeling in the Black Hills | Black Hills Travel Blog
  • Epic Winter Camping & Four-Wheeling in the Black Hills

I have been blessed to live within the Black Hills National Forest for most of my life—an area that is well-known for its amazing motorcycle and snowmobiling routes, among countless other activities. But very few people realize that there is quite a four-wheeling following in the area as well, and it has been a passion of mine since I was 9 years old.

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One of the benefits of four-wheeling is that you are able to ride year-round. Most people think of touring through the hills on muddy or dusty rock clad trails, but these same trails are amazing to ride in the winter snow as well. Four-wheelers do not require a great snowfall or a dry trail to go exploring, which makes it especially easy to go riding anytime.

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The National Forest Service has done an excellent job marking and mapping over 650 miles of motorized trails within the Black Hills National Forest. They offer impressive maps and free apps for your phone to help you navigate routes and direct you to views that will leave you absolutely breathless. No picture can do justice to the gorgeous sceneries you will experience on these backroads and trails. After living in the Black Hills area for a little over 36 years, I am still completely speechless at the great things I find.

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Many of your year-round four-wheeling enthusiasts enjoy everything from hill climbing races, rock crawling expeditions, geocache hunting, group rides, winter games that communities hold close to the trails, and winter camping trips.

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There are plenty of campgrounds, cabins, bed & breakfast locations, and dispersed camping sites within the Black Hills that are open to winter travelers. Some of these sites also offer ATV and UTV rentals right on-site; completely licensed and insured for your convenience. These places also have the unique benefit of being just steps away from the trails. This makes for the perfect winter adventure vacation without the headache of trailering four-wheelers from location to location.

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There are a few things to prepare for when planning your winter four-wheeling getaway in the Black Hills. Most camping and RV sites that are open during the winter do not offer water hookups. Dry camping is usually necessary during the colder months. Some sites offer electrical hookups through the winter, but it is always a good idea to bring a generator as a backup if you plan on using electricity.

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South Dakota is 1 of 22 states that allow ATV's and UTV's to legally drive on their roads and highways (just not on the interstate) as long as they are made street legal. To make the four-wheeler street legal, it must have legal license plates, rearview mirrors, a horn, headlights, taillights, parking lights, stop lights, license plate light, exhaust, muffler and insurance. In order to ride the trail system, you will also need to purchase a trail pass through the Black Hills National Forest Service locations, on their website, or at the Black Hills Visitor Information Center. You'll also receive the trail maps showing which trails are open in the winter. Refer to this map to find the designated seasonal trails and recommended dispersed camping areas.

Visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/blackhills/home for more information on trail permits, ATV and UTV regulations, free phone app and camping rules.

About the Author

Tabitha is a Rapid City native, spending most of her years living within the Black Hills National Forest. She is currently pursuing a degree in graphic communications while working for Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association as the Executive Administrative Assistant.

She enjoys spending her free time four-wheeling, golfing, making jewelry, working on her photography skills and playing tourist through the Black Hills.

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