Light illuminates the Badlands
A buffalo roundup
Downtown Deadwood’s Old West charm
Black Elk Peak, the highest natural peak in the state
A lively reenactment at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park
Stopping for a refresher before going back on the trail
Kayaking through a narrow passage
Cruising down Needles Highway
Stunning Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park
An antelope steps gingerly through the prairie grass
- Major Airports: N/A
Home to treasures like Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park, South Dakota holds adventure no matter what your age. Six national parks and monuments allow visitors to marvel at a larger-than-life sculpture at Mount Rushmore, hike through other-worldly terrain at Badlands National Park, and explore deep below the surface in two of the world’s longest caves.
South Dakota has a rich paleontological history that includes the finding of one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever discovered and the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world, which are still being unearthed in the Black Hills. Hikers in Badlands National Park can periodically watch ongoing digs in what is considered one of the richest fossil beds in the United States.
Visitors can step back in time to the Wild West in Historic Deadwood. You can see where Wild Bill Hickok played his last hand of poker, visit the gravesites of Calamity Jane and other notable characters, and learn about the history of the gold rush in the area.
South Dakota is also abundant in water recreation. The Black Hills area is home to several lakes and streams, the Missouri River runs down the centre of the state, and north-eastern South Dakota is dotted with dozens of clear lakes. All of these bodies of water offer visitors the perfect opportunity for kayaking, fishing, boating and other water recreation.
South Dakota is home to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people, collectively known as the Great Sioux Nation. Several museums and cultural centres across the state depict the history and traditions of these nations as well as display ancient artefacts and modern artwork. Visitors may also experience this colourful culture at one of many powwows held across the state.
The early pioneers that conquered the prairies left a lasting legacy across South Dakota. Central South Dakota was the setting for the majority of the film, "Dances with Wolves," which won seven Academy Awards. In her book series, “Little House on the Prairie,” author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of her life growing up in the town of De Smet. Four of her six books were written about her family’s adventures on the prairies of South Dakota. You can tour her childhood homestead and see the places that inspired her classic books and a television series.
Whatever the adventure visitors are looking for, they will find a wide variety in South Dakota.