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South Dakota Winter Camping

Ben Davis

When I chat to folks about winter camping, the response I often get is:  “You do what?”  I enjoy camping about any time of the year.  But there is something really cool and introspective about experiencing the wilderness when not many other folks are outdoors.

The main things about a successful winter camping experience is planning and, as you can imagine, to avoid being cold.  It’s a good idea to organize your daytime hours with activities such as hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, etc.  If you keep on-the-move, you keep warm.  Plus, outdoor adventures are fun.

The next important thing is a good fire.  I good fire is essential for warming your body, cooking your food, and drying your cloths.  If you are state park camping in South Dakota you can and must secure your firewood from the park itself.  Do not bring out-of-state firewood into South Dakota.  Park officials are concerned about the Emerald Ash Borer.  It’s mean and kills trees.

Planning is a big factor in a successful winter camping adventure.  You’ll want to make sure you have: -A good sleep mat to insulate you from the cold ground. -A good sleeping bag. (Maybe consider a down blanket to use around your bag.  The more layers the better.) -Warm clothes, hat, boots, and gloves.  -A good tent.  I’ve used many different types of tents from compact 1-man to larger 5-person setups.  Make sure to use a tarp of footprint under your tent.

Remember food and water freeze so you want to plan accordingly.  I suggest keeping your water in the tent with you.  Especially smaller tents will stay a bit warmer than the out-of-doors.

South Dakota has a great State Park system.  You can check out a map of South Dakota State Parks at  The last week of November I went camping at Newton Hills State Park.  It was a great outing…and the bugs weren’t bad at all.

Ben Davis
Ben Davis
Ben Davis
Ben Davis
Ben Davis
Ben Davis





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