18 Best South Dakota ATV Trails

South Dakota is one of the least densely populated states in America, which means vast expanses of wilderness are at your disposal for riding off-road. Whether you enjoy more closely maintained trails in private parks or you’re looking for great outdoors fun on public land, there are plenty of riding opportunities to choose from. South Dakota ATV trails are famous for the Black Hills region, with rugged riding and fun attractions and amenities.

What are the best ATV trails in South Dakota for all levels and interests? Here are some of our best picks to inspire your next trip:

  1. Antelope Springs Trailhead
  2. Bluebird Trailhead
  3. South Boxelder Trailhead
  4. Dalton Lake
  5. Black Hills National Forest
  6. Oahe Downstream OHV Area
  7. Railroad Buttes
  8. Red Lake
  9. Shanks Quarry
  10. South Shore OHV Area
  11. Talsma’s Trail Park
  12. Spearfish Quarry
  13. Trailside Park Resort
  14. Revheim Bay OHV Area
  15. Victoria Trail System
  16. Shanks & Schroeder Trails
  17. Merritt System
  18. Piedmont Trailhead

Read on for the essential information on each, including ATV riding advice and ATV rentals in Black Hills, SD, and beyond.

18 Best South Dakota ATV Trails

Black Hills, South Dakota

1. Antelope Springs Trailhead

Within the Black Hills National Forest, you’ll find several excellent trails for off-road riding. The Antelope Springs Trailhead can be found near the Redbank Campground and offers shared access to ATVs and OHVs as well as to hikers and bikers. Here’s a map to help you locate the start of the trail.

Most of the trail is flat, so it’s an excellent starter for those new to ATV riding and will take you to lots of scenic locations, including deep lakes and trees of varied foliage, as well as some stunning wildlife. Beaver Creek Campground is on the trail if you need to stop overnight, as well.

2. Bluebird Trailhead

Still in the Black Hills, one of the best South Dakota off-road trails is the Bluebird. It passes through a unique limestone canyon surrounding the cities of Custer, Senator, and Pringle. Once you get to the end of the trail, locals recommend heading east or south to catch the best views, either of the Ward Reservoir, McClure Dam, or other sites.

The Bluebird trail passes some eery ghost towns, the 12-mile Stagecoach Ranch, and lots of reservoirs and dams to help you get to know the history of South Dakota a bit more.

3. South Boxelder Trailhead

Head to Nemo, SD, for a trail that ATV experts consider being the best in the Black Hills region. The Boxelder trail has extreme bends and very steep descents, making it a bit of an adrenaline rush. The most hardcore riding is on Trail 8089 between 8252 and 8251 intersections – map here.

Along the trail, there are more family-friendly riding sections, as well as caves and creeks, campgrounds, and picnic areas to enjoy.

4. Dalton Lake

Locals and out-of-state visitors both love Dalton Lake equally. It’s an excellent destination for camping, hiking with incredible views, a picnic, and of course, ATV riding. There are ATV trails all around Dalton Lake. You might need to share them with other OHV users, but the views and atmosphere are not to be missed.

5. Black Hills National Forest

Overall, the Black Hills National Forest deserves its own mention among top ATV trails in South Dakota. You can pick either of the trails above within the forest or take one of the many other motorized trails at your disposal. Make a longer trip of it by staying in one of the many scenic campgrounds on site. The trails here offer a combination of forested terrain, open meadows, hills, and flat sections. By staying several days, you can explore either side of your base camp to make the most of the ATV trails as well as the outdoor activities adjacent to the campsites.

6. Oahe Downstream OHV Area

The recreation area at Oahe Downstream is an excellent place to ride ATVs in South Dakota. This is a state park with three campgrounds you can spend the night in, allowing you to take your time to explore 400 acres of hilly grassland terrain. There are no actual designated trails, just markers to set the property boundaries.

If you decide to stay several days, be aware that overnight parking is not allowed, but you’ll be able to park at the campgrounds and drive back to the trailheads the following day. What’s best, there is no permit required to ride here!

7. Railroad Buttes

You can find Railroad Buttes near Farmingdale, SD. Also part of public land, there are several miles of trails to ride alongside a play area with hill climbs, a motocross track, and some fantastic views.

Riding here is relatively smooth thanks to hardpacked terrain, so you can expect dust in dry weather.

8. Red Lake

There are 20 miles of ATV trails around Red Lake, where access is open to the public only between May 15 and December 15 annually. Red Lake Trailhead is part of the Black Hills National Forest system, and the whole area is family-friendly, so it’s a great place to enjoy a more mellow trail riding experience.

9. Shanks Quarry

Located near Rapid City, SD, this area offers 15 miles of wide trails with double tracks, which will make for accessible and easy riding. There are two designated staging areas within the trail system, which sits within the Black Hills National Forest.

10. South Shore OHV Area

South Shore is an offroad park near South Shore, SD, near an abandoned gravel pit. It features wooded trails, some climbs, and a motocross track too. Expect rocky and gravel terrain.

The park is actually free to access, rather than a private ATV park. Glacial Lakes Motorcycle Club maintains it, keeping it open every day. They hold an annual poker run to help raise money for park maintenance.

11. Talsma’s Trail Park

Head to this private park at Trails Head Ranch to ride some great ATV trails along the Missouri River. Talsma’s Trail Park is a family-run business that’s been operating for three generations, including a cattle farm that’s fully operational today. The ATV trail park has been open since 2005, offering hundreds of acres of designated trails to riders. They include steep climbs, all levels of difficulty, and also several play areas to practice skills.

It costs $30 per machine to ride your ATV in the park, and there are lots of activities throughout the year, so make sure to check those out, too.

12. Spearfish Quarry

There are several miles of old forest service roads to enjoy at Spearfish Quarry, along with a 5-acre gravel pit. This area is also part of the Black Hills National Forest and nearest to Spearfish, SD.

13. Trailside Park Resort

We are adding this in to give you another base within the Black Hills National Forest, as you’ll be able to explore new trails from the Trailside Park Resort. There are 35 RV sites, primitive sites, and vacation cabin rentals available. You will be close to restaurants and a shopping area, but not far from Mount Rushmore and the trails.

The great thing about Trailside is that they are directly connected to the ATV trails, which means no additional time to drive to other trailheads to unload your ATV before riding. They also provide ATV rentals if you need additional vehicles or bike rentals if you want to do something different.

14. Revheim Bay OHV Area

This offroad park in Mobridge, SD, opened in 2007. It’s part of the wider Revheim Bay Recreation Area, which offers picnic shelters, a playground, two sets of horseshoe pits, and a range of other activities. You can ride your ATV on the designated trail and then take part in all the other sports, too.

15. Victoria Trail System

Just southwest of Rapid City, you can ride on the Victoria Trail System – the quickest way to access ATV trails in South Dakota from the city. There are about 28 miles of trail, and you’ll be visiting the unique Sandstone Ridge. Keep going to reach Pactola Reservoir, which is on the site of a former town. History and fantastic scenery combine for a delightful trail.

16. Shanks & Schroeder Trails

Besides riding at Shanks Quarry, you can combine the Shanks Trailhead with the Schroeder Trailhead for a mix of trail types and a longer day out. You can explore Cross River and traverse numerous roads for everything from a two-track wide trail to narrow and windy parts, which will test your skills to the maximum. There’s exposed limestone throughout, which adds to the complexity of this ride.

17. Merritt System

This is one of the more challenging trails in South Dakota, spread across 41 miles connecting the Northern Hills to the Central Hills. Merritt System was once the origin of the gold rush, so there’s plenty of history along the trail, whereas the Central Hills is where the top riding area of Black Hills will welcome you with Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

18. Piedmont Trailhead

The final recommendation among South Dakota ATV trails in the Piedmont Trailhead, again back in the Black Hills National Forest. Just off the I-90, you’ll face some serious climbs but some great views to reward the effort.

Conclusion – Premier ATV Riding in South Dakota

Person Riding a Red ATV on a Muddy Trail

Once again, here are our 18 best South Dakota ATV trails:

  1. Antelope Springs Trailhead
  2. Bluebird Trailhead
  3. South Boxelder Trailhead
  4. Dalton Lake
  5. Black Hills National Forest
  6. Oahe Downstream OHV Area
  7. Railroad Buttes
  8. Red Lake
  9. Shanks Quarry
  10. South Shore OHV Area
  11. Talsma’s Trail Park
  12. Spearfish Quarry
  13. Trailside Park Resort
  14. Revheim Bay OHV Area
  15. Victoria Trail System
  16. Shanks & Schroeder Trails
  17. Merritt System
  18. Piedmont Trailhead

Whether you ride your own ATV or need some help finding ATV rentals in the Black Hills, South Dakota is made for offroaders. There are plenty of amenities and rental shops, not to mention that you can pretty much ride your ATV almost anywhere. The Black Hills National Forest should be your first destination, as it offers endless miles of riding with a great variety of trails for all ages and interests. Enjoy the thrills of winding trails before stepping into historical spots, from Mount Rushmore to ghost towns from the gold rush era.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

Recent Posts