BringFido’s Ruff Guide to South Dakota

Posted by Jason Halliburton

Thinking of sauntering with your Schnauzer in South Dakota? If so, he’s one lucky dog. The editors at BringFido have dedicated themselves to digging up the dog-friendliest things to do in the Mount Rushmore State, as well as the rest of the country. And we've assembled it all in the 2021 edition of our book, Ruff Guide to the United States.

Now in its second edition, the book features over 365 of the best places to stay and play with your dog in all 50 states. Order your copy today and save 50% off the retail price when you use the discount code CUSTER.

For a preview of the book, here are a few of our editors' top picks for dog-friendly things to do in South Dakota:

Meet the Local Wildlife at Custer State Park

Custer, SD
Say hello to the four-legged residents. Photo by Melissa Halliburton

If your dog likes to walk on the wild side, he will definitely enjoy hiking the trails carved out by early pioneers at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. You’re likely to encounter prairie dogs, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and deer on the trails, but the park is most famous for being home to one of the nation’s largest free roaming bison herds. The best way to see them is by driving the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road in the early morning or late evening, just before sunset. The drive usually takes about 45 minutes, but allow plenty of time for traffic delays due to wildlife crossings. If you do encounter a herd of the 2,000-pound animals on the road, it is important for everyone, including Fido, to remain in the vehicle. Afterward, strap on the old feed bag for some hearty eats on the Blue Bell Lodge dining patio.

Tucked among the ponderosa pines beside Grace Coolidge Creek, you’ll find the State Game Lodge, which once served as the ‘Summer White House’ during President Calvin Coolidge’s administration. Now, you and your pup can be a guest of the lodge in one of the property’s 19 pet-friendly cabins. After a restful night’s sleep, take Fido for a morning walk on the adjacent Creekside Trail, then feast on Buffalo Benedict in the lodge’s main dining room.

Four Legs on Four Wheels in Deadwood

Deadwood, SD
“Did you get your license, Roxy?” Photo by BringFido

Hop in an ATV from Mystic Hills Hideaway and explore the South Dakota backcountry on four wheels with your furry co-pilot riding shotgun. The outfitter’s ATVs can accommodate up to four passengers and are street legal, but you’ll want to spend most of your time exploring some of the 650 miles of trails of the Black Hills National Forest. Discover rugged rock formations, canyons, gulches, open grassland parks, streams, and lakes on your adventure. Half-day and full-day rentals are available. Rates start at $320 per vehicle (which can accommodate up to four passengers), and dogs ride for no additional fee. When you need a rest from your day of exploring, make your way into downtown Deadwood to give Fido a taste of the Old West. He can belly up to the bar alongside you at Saloon No. 10, where you can sample one of more than 150 varieties of whiskey.

After a bumpy ride on the trails, you won’t have to travel far to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Mystic Hills Hideaway offers private cabins that have everything you and your nature-loving pup need, including kitchenettes, refrigerators, outdoor grills, picnic tables, and fire pits. Standard cabins feature two Queen beds and a sleeper sofa, so the whole pack can vacation together.

Call in on the Cold-Blooded at Reptile Gardens

Rapid City, SD
“You live a 'shell-tered' life.” Photo by Melissa Halliburton

If you like scales and tails, bring Fido to Reptile Gardens in Rapid City. The world’s largest reptile zoo welcomes you and your four-legged companion to explore the grounds and observe 225 species of snakes, crocodiles, frogs, lizards, tortoises, and other reptiles. Catch a glimpse of the rare Komodo dragon before visiting the menagerie of cold-blooded creatures in the famous Sky Dome. Need a break from the creepy-crawlies? Visit the park’s prairie dog exhibit, where Fido can get up close and personal with these cute critters from an underground bubble. For more animal adventures, head to nearby Bear Country USA. At this drive-thru wildlife park, you’ll see dozens of bears, wolves, sheep and elk.

After getting acquainted with reptiles and bears, rest up at the Hart Ranch Camping Resort. Spread out across 195 acres of beautiful Black Hills countryside, Hart Ranch features full RV hook-up sites, a spacious tent area for campers, and modern pet-friendly cabins equipped with kitchens, heat and air conditioning, and private bathrooms. Pups are restricted to the south side of the resort near the dog run and hiking trail.

Ready for a Road Trip?

Photo by Linda Segerfeldt


If this Ruff Guide to South Dakota preview left your dog drooling for more, we hope you check out our new book - Ruff Guide to the United States. Remember to use discount code CUSTER to save 50% on your copy. Happy Travels!

Have you been to dog-friendly South Dakota? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

BringFido is committed to providing authentic dog-friendly content that our readers will love. We may at times receive compensation from our partners or use affiliate links to promote products and services featured on our blog. Banner photo by @barronheymann.