BIG SIOUX RECREATION AREA — BANDON, SOUTH DAKOTA

Bike Trails
Bike Trails at Big Sioux Recreation Area

Big Sioux is a state park located in Brandon, South Dakota, a suburb of Sioux Falls. The park lies on the banks of the Big Sioux River. It is located near a school and a subdivision, yet it feels as if you are out in the middle of nowhere.

Facility: 3.5/5

Big Sioux is an electric only campground. There are 49 campsites, three of which are reserved for tent camping. There are also three cabins for rent. The RV sites are all back in sites. The roads are all paved, but the sites are gravel. Most of the sites appeared to be level. Each campsite includes a picnic table and a fire ring. There is no designated place for unhooking, but you can easily unhook on the street. There is a dump station in the campground. When I called the campground to inquire about potable water, I was told it was available beside the dump station. Call me crazy, but I would not fill up my fresh water tank from a spigot sitting beside a septic tank.

Restrooms: 3/5

There is only one bathhouse in the park, with two showers and a dressing area in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. There are two toilets in each restroom, along with a urinal on the men’s side. The bathrooms and showers were fairly clean, but the water was not consistently hot. 

Amenities: 5/5

The park features an array of activities: archery range; biking; bird watching; canoeing/kayaking; disk golf, hiking; fishing; horseshoes; snowmobiling, snowshoeing; and volleyball. Paved bike trails wind through the park and snake along the Big Sioux River. There is also a picnic shelter and warming shelter at Big Sioux.

Location: 5/5

Big Sioux is conveniently located four miles south of Brandon off I-90 Exit 406. Downtown Sioux Falls is about twenty minutes away by car. 

Pet Friendly: 4/5

Big Sioux is a pet friendly park, but pets must be kept on a leash. There is no designated area for walking dogs, not did the park provide dog waste bags. However, there is plenty of greenspace in the park to exercise your fur babies.

Overall Rating: 4.1

Summary: Big Sioux Recreation Area was once the homestead of Ole Bergeson. Ole and his brother, Soren, built a hand-hewn cottonwood cabin around 1869, that still stands  within the confines of the park. Big Sioux is a great place to camp. I would have given the park a much higher mark if the sites had water. Big Sioux’s rates were affordable: $21.00 per night. However, we were also hit with $7.70 nonrefundable non-resident fee. A word to the wise: if you wish to weekend in a state park in South Dakota, book early. The locals apparently reserve sites for the weekends as soon as the reservation window opens. I made our reservation on April 1, and there were only two sites available for Friday, May 2. When we arrived at the campground on Thursday, there were only a handful of RVs there. But by Friday evening the place was packed. About 95% of the vehicles bore South Dakota tags. I imagine this problem is not unique to South Dakota. However, it seems to me that if South Dakota as well as other states wish to entice tourists to visit them, they would set aside a few weekend sites at each of their state campgrounds for out-of-state visitors.

Cell Phone Signal: We were able to get three bars with Verizon, and four bars with AT&T.

Conclusion: Would we stay at Big Sioux again? Probably, assuming we could get a site.

DSC_0135
Our camp site at Big Sioux
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Nearby campsite at Big Sioux
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Greenspace at Big Sioux
House
Ole Bergeson’s Cabin

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