Tips for RV Camping at Ingalls Homestead (De Smet, SD)

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If you find yourself looking for the chance to turn back time and spend a night on the open prairie, you are going to want to check out Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota. Steeped in early American history, you can camp on the land once homesteaded by author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. Check out our top tips for RV Camping at Ingalls Homestead.

Ingalls Homestead RV Sites
Sunset over RV Sites at Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, SD

South Dakota Camping

Several years ago, we road tripped from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. Final destination: Yellowstone National Park. We broke up the long drive by stopping for visits at several different attractions, including some of the places where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in the late 1800s.

Covered wagon ride
Horse drawn covered wagon

We really enjoyed our time driving through South Dakota. We could not believe how much there was to do and see. (And I would not be surprised if we travel back to SD in the future!)

Among the South Dakota campgrounds that we enjoyed, were Elkhorn RV Resort in Spearfish, SD and Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, SD.

Campfire on Prairie
Campfire on Prairie

Ingalls Homestead Campground

We stayed for 2 nights at Ingalls Homestead. This living history farm is actually a popular local attraction that welcomes visitors daily. There are a few different options for camping at the Homestead:

  • 4 RV Sites
  • Covered Wagons
  • Bunkhouse
  • Tent camping on the prairie

Campsite Types

Let’s break down the campsite types with a few more details.

  • RV Sites: There are 4 (just 4!) of these site types available. They are all back-in sites and have electric and water hookups. There are no sewer hookups, however there is a dump station on site that you can use at anytime.
  • Covered Wagons: Sleep in a replica sheepherder wagon. Choose from a large or small size. The wagons all have electricity, screened windows, a small fan, a campfire ring and a picnic table. The wagons are a short walk from bathroom and shower facilities.
  • Bunkhouse: The bunkhouse is a one-room building that sleeps up to 6 people. It has electricity, a small refrigerator, a small microwave, table and chairs, campfire ring and picnic table. You will need to supply your own linens and pillows. The bunkhouse is a short walk from bathroom and shower facilities.
  • Tent Camping: This option is for the true primitive camper! There are not set campsites on the prairie at Ingalls Homestead. You are free to choose any spot you like on the open prairie and set up your tent. You will not have electricity hookups or water hookups, but can access the bathroom and shower facilities.
Sunset on the Prairie South Dakota
Covered wagon cabin on prairie

Our Stay at Ingalls Homestead

We stayed at the homestead for 2 nights in one of the RV sites in July. I booked the site in January of the same year. As soon as we settled on our travel dates, I booked the site at Ingalls Homestead. With only 4 RV spots available, I knew that the earlier we booked, the better.

We used the days before arriving Yellowstone to explore the country via a Little House on the Prairie themed road trip. De Smet is a major place of importance to the Ingalls family and there are many historic sites to see there. We stayed for a couple of nights in Walnut Grove, MN and then traveled about 2 hours east to De Smet. De Smet is the setting for the the following titles in the Little House book series: By the Shores of Silver LakeThe Long WinterLittle Town on the PrairieThese Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years.

Historical Marker Ingalls Homestead
Ingalls Homestead Site historical marker
Cottonwood Trees Charles Ingalls
Cottonwood Trees planted by Charles Ingalls

Camping at Ingalls Homestead was one of the best travel experiences that I have ever had! I loved the sweeping prairie views, the rich history of the land, and the chance to be a small part of it all. The living history part of the farm was SO neat! The kids had a blast pumping water at the well, making corncob dolls and a jump rope. We got to ride in a horse drawn covered wagon out to a one room school house. I loved watching the wagon rides travel across the prairie all day long!

This was a trip that my entire family will always remember!

Kids walking to barn
Kids Walking on Prairie

Tips for Camping at Ingalls Homestead

Here are my top tips for a staying in an RV site at this campground and living history farm:

  • BOOK EARLY. With only 4 campsites, you need to act quick. Make your reservations as soon as you settle on your travel dates.
  • If you are staying for more than a night or two, I highly recommend bringing a toter tank to transfer your black and grey tanks to the dump station.
  • Admission to Ingalls Homestead is NOT included with your RV site reservation. It will be added to your final balance. The admission price is per person per stay (not per day).
  • Take advantage of that admission! Plan to spend a day exploring the Homestead during its regular operating hours. There is so much to see and do! We saw animals (even baby animals!) during our stay, toured all of the outbuildings and barns, and followed the kids around while they took part in many activities. Take a covered wagon ride out to the one room schoolhouse and back. Each kid also enjoyed a pony ride and drove a pony cart.
Kids on pony rides
Ingalls Homestead Pony Rides
  • Head into the town of De Smet and enjoy the nearby attractions. Take the historical walking tour of the town. You will get the chance to see points of importance to the town and Ingalls family, including the house the Pa (Charles) built for the family to live. On the outskirts of town you can visit the Ingalls family section in the graveyard. This is where Pa, Ma, Mary, Carrie, Grace and others are buried.
Ingalls Home and Museum De Smet
The House that Pa Built in De Smet, SD
  • When the homestead is open to the public, pop into the visitor center/gift shop for a look around. There are lots of fun souvenirs and other Laura Ingalls Wilder merch you can buy.
Ingalls Homestead Gift Shop

Whether you consider yourself a fan of the Little House on the Prairie series, or simply want to visit a slice of yesteryear, this is the spot to head.

During our short 2-night stay, we took in the scenery, enjoyed sunrises and sunsets, and thoroughly fell in love with the vast prairie landscape. The only thing we would have changed was the very bright, unrelenting flood light that the homestead has mounted near the bathrooms. We understand the need to illuminate the facilities for campers at night, but the artificial light really killed the incredible starry sky views that we were looking forward to seeing!

Our stay at Ingalls Homestead was a great experience and all 4 of us want to go back on a future trip!

Ingalls Sign at Homestead

Have you ever visited Ingalls Homestead? If not, do you have plans to check it out in the future? Drop a comment below with your own experience if you have been there!


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