There is something special about spending time outdoors with your family. Having intentional time together is a gift, and camping is a great way to both enjoy your family and nature. Plus, we find that many kids are excited about the idea being outside 24 hours a day! Waking up in a tent with your kids might not be the easiest start to your day, but it’s worth the challenges. 

If you are new to camping or want some tips about how to camp well as a family, check out our Camping 101 post! Here is our best tip for camping with kids! Or get inspired by a local mom who shares why camping is Worth the Work. If you want to start out a little slow and start with a day hike, we have got you covered.

Once you have decided to go camping, you have to pick where! We compiled a list of some of our favorite camping spots for families within about an hour’s distance from Sioux Falls. Take a look below! 

Camping Near the Sioux Falls Area

Big Sioux Recreation Area

Located just a short drive from Sioux Falls, the Big Sioux Recreation Area is a haven for nature lovers and camping enthusiasts. Here’s why it’s a favorite:

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: The park offers both tent and RV camping with electric hookups. The sites are well-maintained and spacious, providing a comfortable camping experience.
  • Cabins: For those who prefer a bit more comfort, the park has cozy cabins equipped with basic amenities.


  • Hiking and Biking: The park boasts miles of scenic trails that wind through woodlands and along the Big Sioux River. These trails are perfect for hiking, biking, and wildlife spotting.
  • Fishing and Boating: The river provides excellent fishing opportunities.  Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities.
  • Picnicking and Playgrounds: Families can enjoy picnicking in designated areas and kids will love the playgrounds.

Newton Hills State Park

A bit further out, Newton Hills State Park is a gem in the South Dakota state park system. Nestled in the rolling hills, this park offers a more rugged and immersive nature experience.

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: Newton Hills offers a variety of campsites, including tent sites, RV sites with full hookups, and group campsites. The sites are surrounded by lush forest, providing a sense of seclusion and peace.
  • Cabins: For those who are looking for a slightly less rugged weekend away. 
  • Modern Amenities: The park also features modern restrooms, showers, and a camp store where you can rent out recreational items. 


  • Hiking and Horseback Riding: The park’s extensive trail system caters to both hikers and horseback riders. The trails offer breathtaking views and the chance to encounter local wildlife.
  • Water Activities: Lake Lakota is the centerpiece of Newton Hills, perfect for swimming, fishing, and boating. The park also rents out paddle boats and kayaks. Make sure to check the water levels before going out. Lake Lakota may be low. 
  • Seasonal Events: Throughout the year, the park hosts various events, such as outdoor concerts, educational programs, and more.

Palisades State Park

For those who appreciate dramatic landscapes and unique geological formations, Palisades State Park is a must-visit. Located about 20 miles northeast of Sioux Falls, this park is known for its stunning pink quartzite cliffs and scenic views.

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: The park offers both basic and electric campsites, suitable for tents and RVs. The sites are located in a beautiful wooded area, providing shade and a sense of privacy.
  • Cabins: There are also rustic cabins available for rent, offering a cozy and comfortable alternative to traditional camping.


  • Rock Climbing: The quartzite cliffs attract rock climbers from all over. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, the park offers routes for all skill levels. Please remember to only climb if you are experienced enough to do so! 
  • Hiking: Several trails wind through the park, offering spectacular views of Split Rock Creek and the surrounding cliffs.
  • Fishing and Boating: The creek is great for fishing, with plenty of spots to cast a line. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular ways to explore the water.

Lake Vermillion Recreation Area

Just 30 miles west of Sioux Falls, Lake Vermillion Recreation Area offers a perfect blend of water-based recreation and traditional camping activities.

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: The park features modern campsites with electric hookups and access to clean restrooms and showers. There are also primitive sites for those looking for a more rustic experience.
  • Camping Cabins: For a comfortable stay, consider one of the camping cabins that come with beds, heating, and air conditioning.


  • Water Sports: Lake Vermillion is ideal for swimming, boating, and water skiing. The park has a boat ramp for easy access to the water.
  • Fishing: The lake is stocked with walleye, northern pike, and other fish species, making it a popular spot for anglers.
  • Hiking and Bird Watching: Trails around the lake provide great opportunities for hiking and bird watching, with a chance to see a variety of local and migratory birds.

Oakwood Lakes State Park

Just over an hour north of Sioux Falls you can find Oakwood Lakes State Park (just west of Brookings). These glacier lakes state park is perfect for those who love the water. 

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: The park features modern campsites with electric hookups and access to clean restrooms and showers. They also offer horse camping spots and non-electric tent spots. 
  • Camping Cabins: For a comfortable stay, stay in one of the cabins. 


  • Water Sports: Oakwood Lakes is perfect for those who want to swim, boat, or fish. You can even rent out water sport items from the camp office. 
  • Fishing: These glacier lakes are perfect for fishing with your family. 
  • Hiking and History: Trails provide great hiking all over the park, along with the different historical points to see. 

Lake Herman State Park

Just an hour away from Sioux Falls is Lake Herman State Park. This State Park is near Lake Madison (which has plenty of outdoor recreation available as well). Lake Herman is a slower pace then Lake Madison and perfect for those wanting a more relaxing camping adventure. 

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: Lake Herman State Park offers tent camping. You can choose both a non-electric or an electric site. 
  • Cabins: There are also rustic cabins available for rent.


  • Water Activities: Lake Herman offers swimming, boating, and fishing. You can check-out canoes and kayaks from the state park office. 
  • Hiking and Cross-Country Skiing: Several trails wind through the park, perfect for a summertime hike or a winter ski. 
  • Historical Points of Interest: See the cabin where the early settlers lived when they first came to Lake Herman. 

Lake Pahoja Recreation Area 

About a 30 min drive from Sioux Falls, and just over the border in Iowa, you can find Lake Pahoja Recreation Area. This beautiful area offers year-round recreation and plenty of camping opportunities.  

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: You can find first-come-first-serve electric sites. A few sites have water hook-ups as well. There are bathrooms in the campground. 
  • Cabins: Lake Pahoja has several modern cabins to enjoy with bathrooms, sinks, and refrigerators. You can also rent larger lodges for big groups. 


  • Water Activities: Lake Pahoja offers fishing, boating, and a swimming beach for your family to enjoy. 
  • Hiking: Enjoy a walk around the lake and let your children stop at the multiple playground. Or bring a volleyball for a game of sand volleyball. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Sioux Falls

You don’t need to go far for camping fun! For a camping adventure a little closer to home, check out Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Brandon, SD. 

Camping Facilities

  • Campsites: They offer plenty of RV sites with extra amenities, or bring your tent! 
  • Cabins: There are modern cabins that you can stay in along with a home just up from the property.  


  • Plenty of Attractions: Enjoy a game of mini gold, jump on the jumping pillow, splash in the outdoor pool, or play a game of gaga ball. There are plenty of activities for your family to enjoy 
  • Programming: Yogi Bear has themed weeks for your family to join in on. Experience a camping experience that’s a bit more like family camp! 

Tips for Camping with Kids

Camping with children can be a rewarding and memorable experience. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth trip:

  • Plan Ahead: Choose a campsite that offers amenities suitable for children, such as clean restrooms, showers, and nearby activities.
  • Pack Wisely: Bring plenty of snacks, water, and kid-friendly gear. Don’t forget items like insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first-aid kit.
  • Stay Safe: Teach your kids about safety in the outdoors, including staying close to the campsite, respecting wildlife, and following trail markers.
  • Engage Them: Get your kids involved in camping activities, such as setting up the tent, collecting firewood, and cooking. This will make the experience more enjoyable and educational.

Happy Camping

Wherever you choose to go camping, have a wonderful time with your family. Creating memories with those you love most is always worth the work!