Buffalo Gap National Grassland

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Buffalo Gap National Grassland

With almost 600,000 acres of open prairie and grassland, Buffalo Gap National Grassland is an exciting place to come explore a unique ecosystem, hike, bike, ride horseback, hunt and camp.

  • Buffalo Gap National Grassland is located in southwestern South Dakota. 
  • The Grassland is divided into two separate tracts, one along I-90 near Cactus Flat and one along South Dakota’s southwest border with Wyoming. 
  • Almost 600,000 acres of prairie and grassland provide ample space for hiking, biking, camping, hunting, off-roading and wildlife viewing. 
  • French Creek Campground, 10 miles east of Fairburn, is the only developed campsite.

Southwestern South Dakota’s Buffalo Gap National Grassland may not be a well-developed recreational area, but for visitors who want to escape from the more populated and popular areas near the Black Hills, the open skies and rolling plains and grasslands of Buffalo Gap are a beautiful place of solace.


Buffalo Gap National Grassland is divided into two separate areas, one in the southwest corner of South Dakota along the Wyoming border and the other along I-90 near Cactus Flat, east of Wall.

For more information about Buffalo Gap National Grassland, contact the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands section of the Forest Service at 308-432-0300 or visit the National Grasslands Visitor Center, located in downtown Wall, South Dakota at the Wall Ranger District (605-279-2125). Or Visit their Website.


With only one developed campground in Buffalo Gap National Grassland, this area is ideal for do-it-yourself recreationists. The entire 597,000 acres is open to hiking, camping (no backcountry permit required), biking, horseback riding (the open grasslands are ideally suited for horses) and hunting. In addition, a network of crisscrossing double-tracks serves four-wheelers and dirt bikes (mountain bikes are welcome here as well).

If you’d rather spend the night at a developed campground, French Creek Campground is just east of Fairburn, South Dakota. French Creek has tent platforms, pit toilets, picnic tables and grills. Call 308-432-0300 for details.

If you enjoy exploring, old homesteads – fun and historic treasures just waiting to be discovered – can be found throughout Buffalo Gap.


While it may take a bit more work to find the wildlife in Buffalo Gap, you’ll be pleased once you do – prairie dogs, coyotes, pronghorn, jackrabbits, swift and red fox, badgers, deer and the endangered black-footed ferret all make their home in these grasslands, as well as a wide variety of rare and common birds.


In late spring and late summer, the grasslands burst into color with showy prairie wildflowers, adding brilliant highlights to the browns and greens on the surrounding grasses.