The 4 Most Remote Spots in South Dakota… Are They Safe to Visit?

Written by Erica Scassellati
Published: February 11, 2024
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South Dakota features some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the United States, from the rugged Badlands to the Black Hills. Visitors looking for an outdoor adventure or a quaint escape from overly populated places should look no further than these four remote spots in South Dakota.

1. Black Elk Peak

black elk peak

Black Elk Peak is the highest point in South Dakota.


Previously known as Harney Peak, Black Elk Peak is both the highest point in South Dakota and the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a part of the Black Hills Mountain range and sits at an elevation of 7,244 feet.

Visitors who reach the top of Black Elk Peak will find a lookout tower with incredible views. Though the route to the peak is a popular area for birding, hiking, and horseback riding, you’ll likely feel far away from civilization once you reach the top.

How to Get There

Black Elk Peak is a part of the Black Elk Wilderness in Custer State Park. According to Visit South Dakota, travelers can reach the top of the peak via Trail No. 9, which begins by Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. The route is a 7.1-mile loop trail that takes an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete.

2. Lemmon

Petrified Forest Park in Lemmon South Dakota

Petrified Forest Park is located within the small town of Lemmon, South Dakota.


One of the most remote towns in South Dakota is a small town near the border to North Dakota in Perkins County. Lemmon, SD has a population of only 1,160 people as of the 2020 census. The town takes its name from George Lemmon, who founded it in 1905.

Despite its status as a remote and tiny town, Lemmon features some noteworthy attractions, such as the Petrified Wood Park and Grand River Museum. A small movie theater, bowling alley, and several restaurants also dot the town, making it a quaint attraction in northern South Dakota.

How to Get There

Lemmon is located 100 miles west of Mobridge SD. You can reach the tiny town via Highway 12. Lemmon offers several accommodation options for visitors, such as the Dakota Lodge, Prairie Motel, Base Camp RV, and the Hausauer Airbnb.

3. The Spokane Ghost Town

Sign marking the boundary of the Black Hills National Forest

A ghost town by the name of Spokane is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

©Structured Vision/

Several ghost towns dot the state of South Dakota. Located in Custer County, Spokane was once a mining town established in the Black Hills in 1890. For a time the mine yielded valuable rewards such as gold, silver, lead copper, mica, and zinc, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

By 1927, the Spokane Mine produced nearly $150,000 a year. However, like many mining towns, its resources eventually dried up and the town was abandoned. Today the remains of a few homes still stand, drawing the attention of tourists and historians.

How to Get There

You can reach the Spokane Ghost Town via Iron Mountain Road or Playhouse Road to Forest Service Rd 330, according to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Turn north on FS 330 and find the gated Forest Service path/trail almost immediately after. Visitors can park at the gate. It is an easy one-mile walk to the Spokane Ghost Town.

4. Sage Creek Wilderness Area of the Badlands National Park

Landscape view of Badlands National Park near Sage Creek (South Dakota).

The Sage Creek Wilderness Area is the most remote location in South Dakota.


Located within the Badlands National Park, the Sage Creek Wilderness Area is the most remote spot in South Dakota. The state’s Badlands are stunning rock formations shaped by years of weathering and erosion.

However, once you reach the Sage Creek Wilderness Area, most of the Badlands formations have eroded away, writes National Park Services. Instead, expansive grasslands have flourished in the nature preserve’s underlying Cretaceous sediments. The Sage Creek Wilderness Area is located 3.3 miles from the nearest road or town, according to the Remote Footprint Project.

Be sure to review a map of the area before heading out, as cellphone coverage can be unreliable. Always pull into a pull-out or overlook when stopping your car. The Sage Creek Wilderness Area features game trails made by bison. Visitors are free to explore these trails but are advised to keep a minimum of a 100-foot distance from any wildlife at all times.

How to Get There

Despite its remote location, it’s relatively easy to visit the Sage Creek Wilderness Area safely. You will first need to reach the Badlands National Park, which can be accessed via Interstate 90 (I-90). There are several entrances to the park and three different scenic highways to choose from once inside.

According to National Park Services, Sage Creek Rim Road (Highway 590) takes visitors on a gravel road along the north rim of the Badlands National Park.

Travelers on this road will experience amazing views of the Wilderness Area and have access to the Hay Butte Overlook, Badlands Wilderness Overlook, Roberts Prairie Dog Town, and Sage Creek Basin Overlook.

Summary of the 4 Most Remote Spots in South Dakota

Black Elk Peak43.8661°N, 103.5323°W
Lemmon45.9408°N, 102.1593°W
Spokane Ghost Town43.8407°N, 103.3760°W
Sage Creek Wilderness Area43.7834°N, 102.3521°W

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tami Freed/

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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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