South Dakota ATV Trail Guide
We’ve only highlighted a very few of the wonderful ATV trails great for OHV riding in South Dakota but there are many other great areas for ATV and UTV riding located all across the state. For a more complete list of Minnesota DNR ATV trails, check out the Best ATV in South Dakota list.
Black Hills National Forest
Location: Western South Dakota
The Black Hills is a paradise for ATV riders and UTV riders, spider-webbed with trails within the 1.2 million acres of pristine wilderness that includes lush forests, beautiful mountains, rolling hills and deep canyons, all providing stunning scenic views for beginning to expert 4-wheeler riding. 21 trailheads each offer their own advantages with a wide variety of terrains that make for some of the best ATV trails South Dakota has to offer. For example, Ditch Creek has a mix of open meadows, thick aspen, dense spruce, and high mountain streams; Bear Mountain, the third highest mountain in the Black Hills, is ideal for a leisurely ATV ride through beautiful aspen groves; and Hell Creek takes you through draws and gullies with a mixture of grass and beautiful prairie trails, mixed with some rocky trails.
Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
Location: Fall River, Pennington, Jackson, and Custer counties, southeast of Rapid City and Farmdale
Located at the foot of the Black Hills, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands encompasses 300,000 acres of open fields, prairies, and rolling hills packed with 4-wheeler trails, and includes a dozen lakes dotting the area. It all adds up to a picturesque setting for ATV riders and UTV riders to enjoy majestic landscapes on the dozens of miles of trails that cut through the area. While riding your ATV, you’re also likely to see a wide range of plant life and animal life, including big game animals like antelope and deer.
Merritt Trail System
Location: west of Highway 385 and north of Silver City Road
Known for offering ATV trail riding and UTV trail riding challenges best suited to more advanced riders, Merritt also has trails that are easier to moderate so that 4-wheeler riders of all skill levels can find what they want. The area is spread across 41 miles connecting the Minnesota Ridge Trail System to the central hills trails. Riders will find plenty of history along the trail because Merritt was once the origin of the gold rush and is identified as the start of the Old West.
Oahe Downstream OHV Area
Location: Stanley County, 20439 Marina Loop, Fort Pierre, SD 57532
A great place to find ATV and UTV riding trails suitable for a wide range of skill levels, this 400-acre lot of mostly dirt trails offers hilly, grassy terrain, river bluff and vegetated shale slopes with some mild hill climbs, all in an area that is overall ripe for exploration. There are no actual designated trails, just markers to set the property boundaries. A great place for outdoorsmen and women looking for OHV riding in South Dakota to open up the throttle a little.
Location: Pennington County, just off Farmingdale Folsom Road, Caputa
When you’re looking for smooth-riding on hardpacked terrains, Railroad Buttes is a likely spot, sitting on Black Hills Forest Service lands with miles of trails covering approximately 3 square miles. Named for railroad beds that used to run nearby, the area offers a vast open landscape with trails both on the left and right side of the roadway, plus you’ll find rugged hills, singletrack trails and spectacular views everywhere you look.
Red Lake Trailhead
Location: Lawrence County, near Savoy on Tinton Road from Lead, SD
Part of the Black Hills National Forest System, Red Lake offers 20 miles of ATV trails across old logging roads and through scenic Aspen groves that provide spectacular viewing in the fall. If you’re so inclined, take an ATV trip to the Mineral Hill Ghost Town for some exploration and keep a lookout for scenic views around Iron Lake. There is also some beautiful scenery on any of the trail-like Forest Service roads.
Revheim Bay OHV Area
Location: Walworth County, 1 mile southeast of Mobridge, SD
This off-road vehicle area is a part of the Revheim Bay Recreation Area, with 1.1 miles of small, narrow trails that twist and wind through tall prairie grass and trees, taking you from shelterbelts to the banks of the Missouri River. Fine opportunities to view wildlife.
Shanks (Quarry) and Schroeder Trail System
Location: Pennington County, easy access off South Canyon (Nemo) Road
Close to Rapid City and the Black Hills, Shanks Quarry offers 15 miles of riding on wide trails of hard-packed dirt especially suited for beginning riders or those looking for a less challenging ride with great views. For a diversity of trail types, combine the Shanks Trailhead with the adjacent Schroeder Trailhead where you’ll be able to explore Cross River and traverse numerous roads that will test your skills. Exposed limestone throughout the trail adds to the complexity of your ride.
South Boxelder Trailhead
Location: Lawrence County, just down the road from Nemo, SD
Many consider this to be the best of the ATV trail options in the Black Hills area with 10 trails covering over 137 miles. It provides a host of options for challenging, technical riding with extreme bends that lead to steep descents. Plus, you’ll find areas that are more suited to lower skill level riding with caves, pines and stream crossings, a ton of scenic views, plus the Boxelder Creek Bridge Water Crossing along the way. Here you can also gain access to Centennial Trail, the longest trail in the Black Hills.
Spearfish Quarry Motorized Trailhead
Location: Lawrence County, just outside of Spearfish SD
Part of the Black Hills ATV Trail System, the Spearfish Quarry offers ATV and UTV riding on over five miles of old forest service roads plus a 5-acre gravel pit. According to the SD Forest Service, it’s a great place of beginning and novice ATV riders to practice their skills. It’s one of two open riding areas in the Black Hills National Forest, and can take you south to the Iron Creek area, or even to the Wyoming border in the west. In the fall, you will find the area abundant with fall colors.
Talsma ATV and Horse Trail Park
Location: Bonhomme County, Avon SD
Some of the best ATV trail-riding in the state outside of the Black Hills can be found at Talsma Trail Park, part of a working Hereford cattle ranch, Trails Head Ranch, which has been in the Talsma family for three generations. Winding along the Missouri River, the area includes several hundred miles of designated trails, including several areas with great mudding trails, primarily through beautiful grasslands. Something for every experience level, including challenging trails with steep areas where the rolling hills and plains drop off sharply to the banks of the Missouri. Requires a fee.