Platte Creek Recreation Area in South Dakota
Looking closer to home base when planning a RV camping destination will uncover a long list of hidden gem campgrounds.
One such best kept secret place is the Platte Creek Recreation Area in South Dakota. Better known to anglers and boater than RVers, the Platte Creek Recreation Area offers easy water access, good camping sites and incredible scenic views.
Overlooking the Lake Francis Case on the Missouri River, the region is one of the hundreds explored by Lewis and Clark back in the day.
The area is located in the southeast corner of the state, on the Missouri River. Travelers on I-90 can take the south Hwy. 50 exit east of Chamberlain at Pukwana, South Dakota.
Traveling through South Dakota.
We traveled west on I-90 from our Minnesota home base. We are always on the lookout for a good cup of coffee, so what better place to pull off than the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop right off the freeway in Hartford, South Dakota. Caribou Coffee provided coffee, and we also found a spacious parking area plus a section of mowed grass for our dogs to stretch their legs.
Once off the Interstate it’s a leisurely 45-minute drive on the two-lane road to the rec area. The route takes travelers through the cute small town of Platte, which is worth a quick stop to browse the antiques shops in the downtown area.
There is a pretty steep grade in and out of the area which includes a self-serve entrance kiosk, campgrounds, and boat launch. It’s doable but be aware of the drop into the area and the hard climb back out. Our rig did just fine, thankfully.
Because the campground is at river level below the bluffs, cell service is non-existent. If you have a booster hooked up to your RV, you may have better luck than us. The sure bet for reception is to drive back up out of the campgrounds to the main road.
Now a funny history tidbit about Platte Creek to share with you – it was originally renamed in the 1880s to honor Bernard Pratte, who operated a fur post near the mouth of the creek. A spelling error forever changed the name to Platte Creek.
What does the Platte Creek Rec Area Offer?
Visitors to Platte Creek will enjoy a quieter, more relaxed alternative to popular Snake Creek Recreational Area just upriver a mile or so. The campground at Platte Creek has similar amenities and has just as gorgeous scenery. Family activities while camping at Platte Creek include biking and walking (on park roads), boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, picnicking and areas of historical interest.
The North Campground is laid out in a single loop configuration with 36 campsites, all with electrical. The dump station is located on the south side of Platte Creek inlet at the boat ramp area and potable water is available. Except for the designated campground, the park is day use only.
There is a comfort station at the beginning of the campground loop and vault toilets at the boat ramp. There are showers at this campground in the comfort station. We didn’t check them out personally, but a few of the other campers were using them.
The Platte Creek Recreation Area is pet friendly, ADA accessible and open year-round. Flush toilets and other water systems may be closed between October 1 and April 30. Vault toilets usually remain open during winter months.
Beautiful scenery, great water views.
Our campsite was right along the Platte Creek inlet, directly across from the large boat ramp. We parked in our site with camp side facing the creek and had an unobstructed water view. The RV pad was pretty level as we recall, and the electric hookup post was nearby. We unfurled the awning, put down the mat, got our chairs and a beverage, and had our campsite set up and ready for relaxing in no time.
During the early Fall weekend that we camped a fishing tournament was going on. It was a little noisy but very entertaining watching hundreds of fishing boats and anglers maneuvering on the boat ramps and in the waters in front of us. We could also watch the start of the tournament Saturday morning as fishing boats raced from the starting line out onto the Missouri River to catch that trophy fish.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website lists the special events like fishing tournaments, so you can plan your visit around those weekends if you don’t want the additional watercraft activity.
Online reservations are required for camping, as the entrance kiosk is unmanned. You can call 1.800.710.2267, or click on the link below for site availability, reservations, and more information.
JK’s Campground Rating
- It’s a very beautiful open natural hilly prairie area
- Great water views of Lake Francis Case and Missouri River
- Dog friendly
- Public walking access through some campsites
- Boat noise and exhaust fumes (during fishing tourney)
- Bathrooms and showers are a hike to get to
Kim’s Campground Rating
- My favorite scenery of any trip of 2021-I loved the fact it wasn’t flat anywhere-a huge surprise!
- Parallel parking to the river with a great view of the river activities
- Friendly and helpful camp host!
- No cell service (Verizon) made it difficult to stay in touch with my real estate clients
- I’m not a fan of steep grades so I was nervous getting down into the rec area
- It took some effort to get (somewhat) level