Located in the rolling hills of the Coteau de Prarie in eastern South Dakota, Newton Hills State Park is the perfect place for your next RV vacation. The park is aptly named, as the area is known for its sloping hills, with the highest point measuring about 2,000 feet above sea level. The park is also renowned for its dense forests and unique flora and fauna. Although the park's lush, dark forest has prompted many tall tails of robbers, bandits, and horse thieves, the history of the area is actually much less sinister. The park is named after William Newton and his wife, who settled in the area in the late 1800s. The land has since been transformed into a state park, and visitors from all around come to enjoy the plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities on offer.
Lake Lakota is a centerpiece at Newton Hills, and during the summer months, visitors enjoy the tranquil waters by boating, swimming, fishing, and floating. Birding and wildlife watching is another popular pastime at the park, so keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, marmots, gray fox, and over 200 species of birds that are spotted here throughout the year. There are also six miles of serene trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. You can even stay the night with your horse at the onside equestrian campground.
Those without horses will also find plenty of places to rest their head at Newton Hills State Park. There are over 100 RV-friendly campsites equipped with electric hookups, along with a lodge, and several camping cabins.
Located just 45 minutes south of Sioux Falls, Newton Hills State Park is a perfect place to park the RV for a weekend and immerse yourself in unspoiled nature. Although the area is known for its rolling hills, the drive to the park is mostly flat, no matter which direction you're coming from. Even those with big rigs should have no trouble reaching the park, with major routes like US-18 and I-29 just a stone's throw from the entrance. The town of Canton is a great stopping point if you need to stock up on supplies or gas up the Class A before heading into the park.
If you're bringing the campervan to the park for a winter visit, be sure to check the local weather forecast and road conditions before heading out, as snow and ice may be present.
If you're staying the night, you can enter the park off of County Road 135. Campground loops are located just past the entrance station, along with hiking trails, picnicking areas, and various parking lots. If you're just visiting for the day, there is also plenty of parking near Lake Lakota off of County Road 140.
If one day at Newton Hills State Park simply wasn't enough, then hunker down in one of over 100 RV-friendly campsites. The park campground is set up in a series of loops, but no matter where you choose to park your campervan, you'll find your site equipped with electric hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Sites range in length, with the largest sites able to accommodate rigs up to 75 feet.
Pets are allowed throughout the campground, and a few of the sites are ADA-accessible. Comfort stations with flush toilets and hot showers are spread throughout the campground, and a dump station, a playground, and access to hiking trails are also nearby.
Reservations are required, and sites fill up quickly during the peak season and whenever the park hosts an event or festival. There are also a number of tent-only sites and camping cabins available if you'd like to get out of the RV for a night or two.
Those looking to live in luxury during their time at Newton Hills State Park can stay at the on-site lodge. The lodge is perfect for large groups or families, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Guests will find modern conveniences like heat and air conditioning, a fully functional kitchen, and picnic tables and a fire ring outside. The lodge does not provide bedding or towels, and pets are prohibited. If you're interested in renting the lodge, you can do so up to a year in advance.
If you brought your horses along on your RV trip to Newton Hills, you can stay overnight in one of the ten equestrian campsites available. The horse camp is located in a grassy area on the north side of the park off of Highway 135. Each site is equipped with electric hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. There are also centrally located water spigots and vault toilets available.
If you couldn't snag a campsite at Newton Hills State Park, there are a few alternative options for RV camping nearby. There are lots of private RV parks in the nearby Sioux Falls, most of which offer top-notch amenities like full hookups, seasonal pools, and even on-site restaurants and doggie parks.
If you prefer state park camping, then head south to Union Grove State Park. Located off of Interstate 29 about 40 minutes from Newton Hills, Union Grove State Park is equipped with 21 spacious campsites. The campground has electric hookups and is pet-friendly.
Once you park the pop-up and set up camp, you can begin exploring Newton Hill's trail system. There are three hiking trails available, and both experienced hikers and those looking to take a relaxing stroll will find a suitable route. The Augie Ridge Trail is the shortest in the park, and this easy route will lead you by the tranquil Sergeant Creek. For a more intense hiking experience, head to the Blue Diamond Trail. Beware of hiking this multi-use trail during the rainy seasons, as the trail can become extremely muddy and hard to hike.
The scenic Lake Lakota is a must-see on your RV camping trip to Newton Hills State Park. There are a boat ramp and plenty of parking for your trailer near the lake. If you didn't tow your own water vessel along behind the Sprinter, rentals are available from the park, including paddleboards, floating water mats, canoes, kayaks, and life jackets. Those looking to spend an afternoon on the water should note that the entire lake is a no-wake zone.
Summers can get hot in South Dakota, with average park temperatures often reaching into the upper 80s. Luckily, Newton Hills State Park is equipped with a sandy swimming beach, so don't forget to pack your bathing suit along in the travel trailer. The beach has a roped-off swimming area, and you won't have to worry about noisy boats rushing by, as the entire lake is a designated no-wake zone. Once you've had enough fun in the sun, you can enjoy a picnic at one of the nearby tables, or lay a blanket on the shaded grassy area.
Newton Hills State Park knows how to throw a good party, and throughout the year, the park hosts a number of festivals and events that should not be missed if you're in the area. The Sioux River Folk Fest is one of the most popular festivals at the park and usually takes place during July or August. Other events and festivals hosted by the park include fall festivals, candlelit hikes, and even ranger programs that give visitors insight into the park's nature and history.
Don't hesitate to bring your bikes along in the motorhome when you visit Newton Hills State Park because there are miles of trail to traverse. Although some of the trails are for hiking only, the multi-use Blue Diamond Trail is a great option for bikers. It is the longest trail in the park, and there are a few inclines to make the ride interesting - just beware of mud after heavy rainfall. If you didn't bring your own bike, head to the park office to rent one.
Horses are welcome at Newton Hills State Park, and the Blue Diamond Multi-Use Trail is also open to equestrians. This long loop provides stunning views of the fall foliage during the autumn, just beware of the mud that might cake your horse's hooves after riding. After completing the trail, you can unwind back at the on-site horse camp if you're staying the night, or enjoy a relaxing picnic at the start of the trailhead before heading out.
Winter usually brings snow to Newton Hills State Park, and with it comes the crowds looking to enjoy their favorite winter activities. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are some of the most popular pastimes at the park, and if you didn't bring your own gear along in the T@B, the park office offers snowshoe rentals. There is even a warming hut available on-site for when you're ready to take a break from the trails and get away from the freezing temperatures.
Dense woodland forests and multiple bodies of freshwater make Newton Hills State Park a favorite for many different species of birds and mammals. If you're lucky, you may see some of these full-time residents during your RV vacation to the park. Take to the trails and keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, gray fox, wild turkeys, marmots, and more. If you're spending time by Lake Lakota, you may even spot a turtle or two. Birders will also enjoy the park, with over 200 bird species visiting every year.