USDA Forest Service
Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands;
Samuel R. McKelvie
Buffalo Gap, Fort Pierre,
& Oglala National Grasslands
125 North Main Street
Chadron, NE 69337
The Fort Pierre National Grassland offers a wide variety of recreation opportunities from dispersed camping to hunting and fishing. With the north boundary of the Grassland being located approximately 8 miles south of Pierre, South Dakota; vistors have the choice of camping or sleeping in hotel accommodations.
At a Glance
The Ft Pierre Ranger station is located at 1020 N Deadwood. Office hours are M-F 8-12 and 1-5.
The Fort Pierre National Grassland is located in Central South Dakota. Visitors taking Interstate 90 may access the Grassland by taking Exit 212, then heading north to Pierre on Hwy 83. Vistors coming from the Pierre area have only to travel south on Hwy 83.
The Grassland is split nearly in half by Hwy 83, with two thirds being on the east and one third being on the west of the highway. From Hwy 83, visitors may access other Grassland regions by taking numerous County and Forest System Roads. A couple of the main County Roads include: County Line Road and 234 Street which run east, and War Creek Road and 226 Street which run west.
The Fort Pierre National Grassland is cris-crossed with numerous County and Forest System Roads that make it possible for visitors to reach fishing ponds, prairie dog towns, or to just enjoy the rolling scenry of the prairie.
Camping & Cabins
All camping experiences on the Fort Pierre National Grassland will be despersed, as there are no developed campgrounds. Visitors will have the opportunity to hike into areas without road access to pitch tents and those that prefer to sleep in their campers will be allowed to park up to 30 feet off any desiganted road on the Grassland.
All camping visitors are prohibited from using charcoal grills, having open camp fires, smoking outside of their vehicles, and operating engines without a spark arresting device installed. Commercial petroleum fueled stoves and lanterns are permitted.
All visitors are asked take their garbage home with them, as there is no garbage service avaiable on the Grassland.
Ice fishing is a great past time during the winter months for locals and visitors. Fishermen can try their luck on several panfish species including: bluegill, large-mouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, white crappie, bullhead, and catfish. There are a few ponds that are known to have walleye and pike as well.
Under the new Travel Management rules, several roads were created for seasonal access to ponds for ice fishing. These designated roads are open from December 1 through August 31. Snowmobiliing to the ponds for ice fishing is prohibited, as snowmobiles are only allowed in the Highway 83 right-of-way.
Travel Management rules require fishermen to remain on designated roads while accessing fishing ponds. Designated Roads are open from December 1 through August 31.
Bluegill, large-mouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, white crappie, bullhead, catfish, and in select locations pike and walleye.
Ponds are frozen.
Horse Riding & Camping
With vast open prairies, the Fort Pierre National Grassland is a primier spot for visitors to enjoy riding horses. The topography is flat to rolling hills so nearly every skill level can enjoy the ride.
During the summer months, cattle and buffalo can be seen grazing on the Grassland. Horsemen are encouraged to avoid riding through these livestock herds and reminded to close gates behind them.
The use of Certified Weed Free Forage is required on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. See Quick Link at above right for more information.
Big Game Hunting
Deer & Antelope Hunting
The vast prairie of the Fort Pierre National Grassland is home to many deer and antelope. The shrubby drainages located across the Grassland are home to both mule and white-tailed deer. These drainages provide hunters with good walk-in areas during archery and rifle hunting seasons. The antelope can be found dotting the flat lands across the prairie.
All areas are open for public hunting under state rules and regulations. Shooting a firearm within 150 yards of a developed recreation site or across a forest road is prohibited (36 CFR 261.10.d.1).
The Fort Pierre National Grassland is widely known for its population of Greater Prairie Chicken and Sharptail Grouse. Hunters come from all over the United States to hunt these birds with or without their dogs.
In six locations across the Grassland, the Forest Service has set up voluntary wing donation boxes. Hunters are asked to clip one wing from each bird harvested and place in the donation box. The data collected from these donations assist biologist in monitoring prairie grouse populations.
Other Hunting Seasons
Aside from deer, antelope, and upland game birds another popular past time for hunters is the Prairie Dog hunting. This season is open year round. With the implementation of new Travel Management rules, seasonal roads leading to prairie dog towns are open to motorized vehicle travel from June 15 through August 31. Outside of those times, hunters can still access those towns by foot.
The Fort Pierre National Grassland diverse with all forms of wildlife from reptiles to feathers. On any given day visitors can see countless species of birds including: upland sandpipers, various raptors, short-eared owls, eastern and western king birds, greater prairie chicken, sharptail grouse, and much more.
Prairie dog towns are wonderful places to find dens of rattlesnakes and burrowing owls. As long as binoculars are avaibile, the possibilities are endless!
The Fort Pierre National Grassland does not have any designated cross-country skiing trails; however, visitors are allowed to strap on their skis when snow levels allow. Skiers should remember to pay close attention to local weather forecasts and dress appropriately.
In 2009, new Travel Management rules were implemented on the Fort Pierre National Grassland. Snowmobiles are now prohibited from driving on the Grassland, the only area designated for snowmobile recreation is the Highway 83 right-of-way that runs north to south through the Grassland.
When recreating in the right-of-way be sure to dress appropriately and be watchful of traffic traveling on the highway.