Located on over 6000 acres and featuring plenty of educational resources and recreational activities, Fort Meade Recreation Area is anRV friendly BLM gem in South Dakota. Previously used as a Military Reservation back in the 1870s, Fort Meade Recreation Area has preserved the history of the area while combining it with fun outdoor activities that are suitable for visitors of all ages. The recreation area is located very close to the city of Sturgis (known worldwide for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally) and features two campgrounds, but for both of them, you will have to pay if you wish to stay the night during the peak season.
There are so many fun things to do at Fort Meade Recreation Area that you'll need a few days to enjoy it all. The recreation area is separated into two units via a gravel road and many historical buildings are located between the two sections. There are many places to go picnicking, including the 50-acre Fort Mead Reservoir, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Chapel, and the Alkali Creek Trailhead. There are also miles and miles of trails to explore, including some that are suitable for mountain biking and horseback riding.
RV camping within the Fort Meade Recreation Area is permitted at the Alkali Creek Trailhead Campground and the Alkali Creek Horsecamp. Both of these campgrounds are quite small, but they are open all year round (apart from during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally). Peak season at Fort Meade Recreation Area runs from May until October.
Despite being located on a gravel road, driving to and from Fort Meade Recreation Area is very straightforward since it is located just east of Sturgis. The recreation area can be accessed from the south, but the most common way is to take SD-79 and turn off onto Cemetary Drive. This is the gravel road that stretches for around five miles that you can use to access both sections of the recreation area. All RVs should have no trouble accessing the recreation area, but it's a good idea to slow down when traveling on the gravel road. Stopping into Sturgis will be the best place to get any supplies that you may need since it is so close to the recreation area.
While Fort Meade Recreation Area is open all year round, it can close during the wintertime if there is bad weather. Try calling ahead to the park office if you are concerned about the weather conditions. There are plenty of parking lots throughout the recreation area, so if you are a day-tripper you will have a wide selection of places to park your rig, including at the main picnic areas and Fort Meade Museum.
The Alkali Creek Trailhead is the more popular of the two RV-friendly campgrounds that are located within the Fort Meade Recreation Area. While the picnic area at the trailhead is quite large the RV camping area is on the smaller side with six sites for you to choose from. During the peak season, you will have to pay to camp here, but in the off-season, it is available for free.
There are no electric, water, or sewer hookups at the Alkali Creek Trailhead, but there are plenty of other great amenities. These include picnic tables, restrooms, water collection points, and easy access to the Nature Trail. Expect most of the sites to be flat and there are no restrictions on what size RV you can bring into the camping area.
During the three weeks of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally the campground does close down, but at all other times, it will be open. You cannot make reservations for the Alkali Creek Trailhead Campground, so all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. If all of the sites are full you may still be able to dry camp within the area.
The other RV camping option within Fort Meade Recreation Area is restricted to visitors who are traveling with their horse. The Alkali Creek Horsecamp also contains six sites and contains similar facilities to the standard campground at the Alkali Creek Trailhead.
An added bonus at the Alkali Creek Horsecamp is each site also has horse tie lines so your horse doesn't have to be cooped up in its trailer. You will have to bring your own feed to the campground, but there are water collection points and troughs for your horse to use.
Alkali Creek Horsecamp also closes during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only. Water will only be available during the peak season to prevent the pipes from freezing, so if you are bringing your horse during the time you will have to bring your own water with you.
Picnicking is one of the most popular activities at Fort Meade Recreation Area due to the fantastic amenities and multiple picnic areas to choose from. There are 22 different picnic areas available at the Alkali Creek Trailhead alone, with several more also found throughout the recreation area, including at Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Chapel and the Fort Mead Reservoir. All of the picnic sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities waiting for you at Fort Meade Recreation Area thanks to the miles of trails that you are free to explore during your visit. One of the most accessible trails for visitors of all ages is the Nature Trail that stretches for just around a mile and a half. Along the trail, there are also many informative displays that you can read to learn more about the flora and fauna in the area.
For the more experienced hikers, try checking out the Centennial Trail that features over 10 miles of trails.
Next to the main area of the Fort Meade Recreation Area is the Fort Meade Museum. The museum contains many historical items from the period when the fort was a Military Reservation and is now open to the public free of charge for you to experience.
Open during the peak season, there are many informative exhibits and staff on hand to answer any questions you may have. If you are lucky you may also get to experience a talk about the military history in the area!
For RV lovers who are interested in fishing during their visit to Fort Meade Recreation Area, you will be pleased to know that the Fort Meade Reservoir is waiting for you. The reservoir is quite small and out of the way of most visitors, but it will be perfect if you want a peaceful day of fishing.
The most common species caught in the waters are rainbow trout, but there are many others that also call the reservoir home. Remember to bring your own fishing gear as there is none available for rent.
Like most BLM land, Fort Meade Recreation Area is open for hunting during the designated season, but there are some unique rules within the area that must be strictly followed. Hunting with firearms is not allowed, so you will only be able to go hunting via archery. Dogs also cannot be trained on this BLM land, so keep this in mind if you are planning a hunting trip while on your RV adventure.
Since Sturgis is one of the most famous motorcycle towns in the world, it would be a shame if you didn't stop by the Motorcycle Museum. Featuring some very cool vintage bikes, exhibitions and plenty of history about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the museum is open all year round for you to enjoy. There is also a Hall Of Fame at the museum that celebrates people who have made a significant impact on motorcycle riding and its culture.