Metal Detecting in South Dakota

7 Best Places to Metal Detect in South Dakota [Maps, Laws and More]

Having an interest in history, I couldn’t pass up seeing Mount Rushmore when our family went on a tour across the United States. We went to many different fun locations for the whole family and the best places to metal detect. It was a family adventure in experiences and treasure hunting.

Noting our stops along the journey, I found seven State Parks that caught my attention. The following list of State Parks in South Dakota represents those that I found had excellent metal detecting and other amenities we were looking for on our trip.
I’ll cover each park and offer some of their featured amenities, features, and activities that drew my attention and will likely be helpful to you for planning your adventures.

1. Custer State Park – More Fun Than You Can Shake a Detector At!

Starting our adventures in the western side of South Dakota, we stopped first at Custer State Park. The park is a great place you can see some large wildlife at a pretty close range. There are bison in the park, and they are awe-inspiring to see up close, well medium-close anyway.

Custer State Park for Metal Detecting
Custer State Park for Metal Detecting

While the majestic bison entrance your family, you can slip on over to the beach to get some metal detecting in. Ensure you call ahead so a manager is there and can sign off on your permit. That isn’t all there is to do in the park, though. Some of the other great things you can do at this park are:

  • Camping
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Picnicking
  • Visit the Museum/Visitor Center

Here’s how to find the Custer State Park –


👉Hey David here the guy behind this website. Check Out My Favorite Metal Detecting Equipment Below 👍 Recommended

Nokta Ultra
Nokta Simplex ULTRA 👈 Awesome Machine!

When asked what I recommend, the 👉 Nokta Simplex Ultra stands out. Perfect for beginners, it’s waterproof, includes wireless headphones, and offers five functional modes, growing with your detecting skills.

Lesche T Handle Shovel picture
Lesche T Handle Shovel digs through everything

The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. The nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel is the most comfortable heavy duty shovel I’ve ever used.

I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting
I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.

Minelab Equinox 800 amazing Metal Detector
Minelab Equinox 800 amazing metal detector

If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME , get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine.

2. Hartford Beach State Park – A Ton of Fun Activities!

Hartford Beach State Park is one of the most scenic parks in the mid-northern United States. Amidst a wooded forest, you’ll find Big Stone Lake. The lake is our central point of interest here at Hartford. Although, there are several things you can do in the park that aren’t necessarily associated with the lake.

The beach is busy on hot summer days, so you can trust that there is booty to be found, seemingly lost to the sands of time on the shores of Big Stone Lake. Get your permit to detect from the park manager, specific and maybe you’ll find a cache of your own nestled in the beach sand.

Some of the park’s great features and activities:

  • Camping
  • Disc Golf
  • Canoeing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Horseshoes
  • Kayak rental
  • Paddleboard rental
  • Volleyball
  • Fishing

You can find this incredible park here –


Metal Detecting Tip: THIS IS HUGE! Get a permit for swing your metal detector in South Dakota Parks it’s easy. Go to this link 👉 Metal Detecting Permit for South Dakota

3. Lake Herman State Park – Excitement in The Northeast!

Lake Herman is a fantastic choice for a destination adventure. In fact, the lake has been a popular campsite for hundreds of years and was enjoyed by native peoples who lived in the area.

The beach here can get quite busy on hot summer days, so make sure you keep that in mind when you contact the office to get your permit approved. The park staff may ask you to hold off until a certain time of day or offer that you treasure hunt early morning before the beach is busy.

There are numerous other activities and amenities at Lake Herman State Park to keep your family entertained while visiting Northeast South Dakota. Here are a few of the park’s amenities and activities:

  • Camping
  • Rental Cabins
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Canoeing & canoe rentals
  • Boating
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking & kayak rentals
  • Paddleboard rentals
  • Swimming
  • Stargazing
  • Wildlife watching

You can find the Lake Herman State Park here –


Metal Detecting Tip: Treasure hunting doesn’t mean making a mess, digging holes and destroying historic sites. Use some ethics and preserve history. Sharing pictures and documenting the location and researching the back story is the most important part of finding treasure. Read my article 👉 Metal Detecting Rules, Ethics and Laws

4. Oakwood Lakes State Park – Glacial Lakes Adventure!

A year-round park that offers so many activities that you could stay and forever be entertained. I enjoyed the beach, of course. However, there’s more to life than treasure hunting, as my family likes to tell me.

When we camped at the park, the sunset was fantastic. If you need to find a place to stay, remember to book your campsite in advance. That way, you can also enquire about getting your permit approved to hunt for lost treasures on the sandy beach.

Here are some of the park’s amenities and activities include:

  • Disc Golf
  • Biking
  • Basketball
  • Boating
  • Canoe rentals
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseshoes
  • Kayak rentals
  • Paddleboard rentals

You can find the Oakwood Lakes State Park here –


5. Sandy Shore Recreation Area – Beautiful Long Sandy Beach to Explore

If it’s one thing that Lake Kampeska in South Dakota is known for, it’s the beautiful, long, sandy beach at Sandy Shore Recreation Area. This Game, Fish & Parks run property features a large beach on the glacial-formed lake.

While the history of the lake may go back to the last ice age, there’s plenty of modern amenities and activities you can enjoy at Sandy Shore. These include camping, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and much more.


Metal Detecting Tip: Practice using your metal detector with a movement that sweeps the ground with the coil as close as possible and as parallel to the earth as possible. Whether you practice in your own yard or out in the field, a consistent method of motion of the coil parallel and close to the ground is vital to maximizing the detector’s sensitivity. For more great tips on detecting and more, read this article:

6. Farm Island Recreation Area – Lewis and Clark’s Expedition Was Here!

Another busy park, often bustling with visitors of all sorts, the Farm Island Recreation Area is home to various beauty and beaches. Boasting a rich history that includes the Lewis and Clark expedition, the area is rich with culture and possibility.

Considering the great activities and amenities, including camping, archery, fishing, basketball, biking, boating, canoe rentals, hiking, kayak rentals, and more, your family is sure to have fun without you. At the same time, you’re treasure hunting on one of the beaches at Farm Island Recreation Area.


7. Lake Vermillion Recreation Area – Clear Waters and Great Fishing!

The last stop I’ll mention from my adventures through South Dakota is the Lake Vermillion R.C. in the southeast of South Dakota. The 512-acre reservoir makes for excellent boating, fishing, and swimming. A beach is a great place to treasure hunt. Just ensure you’ve got your permit lined up first.

The Lake Vermillion Recreation Area has a lot to offer. Such activities as biking, hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, and others are permitted in the area. With camping available, you can stay the night so you can have the next day to continue your adventures.


Metal Detecting Laws For South Dakota

South Dakota is a metal detecting friendly state. Although they require a permit for metal detecting in state parks, the state recognizes the hobby and its importance to some of its citizens in particular beach areas. There are two stipulations that most of us treasure hunters need to know about obtaining permission (a permit) from a park manager.

  1. Metal detector use will only be granted for recreational purposes on designated swimming beaches.
  2. Metal detector use will be granted if you are looking for a lost personal item. Digging will only be allowed in designated swimming areas though. Other areas are assumed the lost possession would remain on the surface. Ergo digging is not required (or permitted).
  3. There are two more stipulations, that you are already in possession of an approved permit from the State Archaeologist or you are a parks department staff. Neither of these will apply to most hobbyists though.

Quick Law Recap:

  • National Forests: Permit required from US Forest Service if you want to dig.
  • BLM Lands: Permit required for relics. Read more about BLM land and metal detecting at the website – HERE
  • South Dakota State Parks: Permit required, designated beaches only. Check out South Dakotas State Park System – HERE

Metal Detecting Tip: I’ve found working with the folks at the property is the best way to find the best treasure. I ask a park ranger where he thought a great place to metal detect was and he pointed me to a set of stairs by the beach. His words “folks are spilling stuff there all the time” That spot earned me a ring and some change!

Metal Detecting Clubs In South Dakota

  • Black Hills Prospecting Club – Rapid City, SD – An active club that has monthly meetings you can find out about on their website here. –
  • There don’t seem to be any other active metal detector clubs at the time of writing.

Metal Detecting Tip: Depending on your energy level and where you are detecting, you might find yourself out in the field for hours. Keeping comfort in mind, you’ll want to ensure that your headphones are comfortable and breathable. Always use them too, don’t rely on hearing a beep from the detector if it has a built-in speaker. If the wind rises, it may be difficult to hear, it may also be annoying for anyone in the vicinity. Using a good quality pair of headphones is vital to your success and your comfort. For more great tips, take a look at this article:

Metal Detecting Treasures Found In South Dakota

Sometimes metal detecting clubs get their name in the paper. That’s precisely what happened in South Dakota for the Black Hills Prospecting Club. On National Metal Detector Day, the club held an event for its members at Old Storybook Island. The event made the local news in Rapid City, SD. Read the full story here –

Metal Detecting Resources In South Dakota

Metal Detector Stores In South Dakota For Expert Advice

There are no specialty metal detector businesses currently operating in South Dakota. However, here is one store that does sell metal detectors in Rapid City.

  • Scheels – Rapid City, SD – – This sporting goods and outdoor outfitter has everything you need for outdoor adventures, and they even carry metal detectors.

What do You Need For Beach Metal Detecting?

I’m going to provide an ESSENTIAL beach gear list. Everyone wants to enjoy beach time and dragging a pile of gear to the beach sucks.

  • A great multi-frequency metal detector. Different metals react to different frequencies. Having a machine that utilizes multiple frequencies at the same time will greatly improve finding gold and coins. The Best Value is the Nokta Makro Legend check prices and reviews on Amazon with this shortcut link 👉 Nokta Makro Legend
  • A great pinpointer, I’m an absolute believer in wireless tech. For years I would get tangled in my headphone wires. GO WIRELESS the Nokta PulseDive links to the Legend’s wireless headphones. Since it’s built for diving, it’s Heavy Duty. Short cut link to Amazon – Nokta Makro PulseDive
  • Get a heavy duty sand scoop, I’ve bought the cheap plastic and metal scoops – NOT GOOD. They usually break within a day. 2+ years later I’m still hammering on my CKG Metal Detecting Sand Scoop 👈 Link to Amazon


David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

Read about David -> HERE

Want to send me a question – contact

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