South Dakota Holiday and Vacation Travel Information
South Dakota's borders encompass the great rolling plains that extend through the interior of the continent. The southwestern region of the state contains several nationally-administered properties protecting the unique landforms and habitats within the badlands. Badlands National Park encompasses nearly 250,000 acres of fossilized remains and prairie grasslands. Black Hills National Forest, Custer National Forest, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, Wind Cave National Park, Grand River National Grasslands and Jewel Cave National Monument lie in this region and provide access to public lands. The largest State Park in South Dakota lies within this region as does the town of Deadwood of mining era fame.
Central South Dakota consists of the Missouri River Corridor. Along the western bank of the river, in northern South Dakota, is a large parcel of land reserved for Native Americans. This land is designated as the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations. Following the river southward, two more parcels of land along its banks are designated as reservations. Indian reservations are usually where native North American traditions thrive; South Dakota contains many reservations that preserve Sioux culture. Also in this region is the state capital, Pierre, and in close proximity Fort Pierre National Grassland.
The northeastern region of South Dakota is designated by the state tourism board as the Glacial Lake and Prairies Region. This region was scoured by glaciers leaving 120 lakes in their wake. Anglers and hunters know the region as a repository of wildlife. The area contains 14 state parks and two national wildlife refuges.
Sioux Falls is the largest community in the state and it lies in the most heavily populated region, the southeast. The Big Sioux River and Missouri River form the boundaries of this corner of the state. The geography of the region consists mainly of high plains with 175 natural and man-made lakes completing the landscape.
Recreation opportunities in South Dakota range from fishing in the many glacial and man-made lakes to backpacking in the national parks. Spelunking is poplar in eight Black Hills caves of southwestern South Dakota.
The Black Hills cover an area 125 miles long and 65 miles wide. The name "Black Hills" comes from the Lakota words Paha Sapa, which mean "hills that are black". Seen from a distance, these pine-covered hills, rising 4,000 feet above the surrounding prairie, appear black. They encompass rugged rock formations, canyons and gulches, open grassland parks, tumbling streams, deep blue lakes, and unique caves. The Black Hills represent an ecological crossroads, with wildlife and plant species typical of habitats of the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, northern boreal forests, and eastern deciduous forests. The forest is dominated by ponderosa pine, but also includes dense spruce stands and areas of aspen, birch and oak.
Travelers have long come to the pine forests of the Black Hills to find relief from the summer sun and winter winds of the plains. Shady campgrounds provide a place to rest after a long day of hiking, fishing, or trail riding. In winter, the canyons and plateaus of the northern Black Hills are traversed by first-class snowmobile and ski trails. Mount Rushmore National Monument, Devils Tower National Monument and Jewel Cave National Monument are all found adjacent to or near the Black Hills National Forest.
The Black Hills Forest Visitors Center at Pactola Reservoir provides a wealth of information about the forest. Hike on a self-guided nature trail near the Center. Boat, swim, windsurf and fish in the reservoir. Bismark, Deerfield, Sheridan and Stockdale Lakes are also open for boating and fishing.
The Peter Norbeck and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byways showcase 90 miles of the Black Hills' most scenic highways. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is reknowned for its natural beauty and history framed by towering Paha Sapa limestone canyon walls. The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway offers 70 miles of outstanding sights including Mount Rushmore, the Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and Custer State Park.
The 10,000-acre Black Elk Wilderness is located near Mount Rushmore in the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve. In addition to the 111-mile Centennial Hiking Trail, the Forest has two National Recreation Trails. The Flume and the Lost Cabin National Recreation Trails both feature scenic and historic sites. From the lookout at Harney Peak, visitors have a bird's-eye view of the Forest and a panoramic view of four states - South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana.
The Black Hills National Forest offers year round outdoor recreation activities. The Forest has 30 campgrounds, including 3 horse camp areas - Willow Creek, Iron Creek, and Sundance Trails. The Forest offers visitors over 600 miles of trails for hiking, horse back riding, skiing and snowmobiling. The Forest also offers hunting, fishing, boating and scenic driving.
Mount Rushmore is a memorial to the birth, growth, preservation and development of the United States of America. Gutzon Borglum sculpted busts of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln high in the Black Hills to represent the first 150 years of American history.
The primary resource at Mount Rushmore is the granite sculpture itself, but also of interest is the Sculptor's Studio built under the direction of Sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1939. Unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting process are displayed in the studio. Other resources at the memorial include flora and fauna representative of the Black Hills environment and the unique geological formation of the mountain and adjacent peaks.
Recreation - Activities for visitors at this site include walking, viewing exhibits and touring historic structures. The Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and Museum features over 20 exhibits on the sculptor, the workers, the carving and the presidents of Mt. Rushmore. Two theaters show the site's orientation film. The Mount Rushmore History Association operates a large bookstore at this location. The Information Center, located near the fee parking lot, offers temporary exhibits and an information desk.
For those visitor interested in spending the day outdoors the Presidential Trail leads along the base of the mountain offering outstanding views of the sculpture. This trail is handicapped accessible from the Visitor Center to the base of the mountain. There are many hiking trails and biking trails immediately outside of the memorial.
Other Places of interest in South Dakota
Badlands National Park
Belle Fourche Reservoir
Big Bend Dam Lake Sharpe
Black Hills National Forest
Cold Brook Lake
Cottonwood Springs Lake
Fort Meade Recreation Management Area
Fort Randall Dam Lake Francis Case
Gavins Point Project
James Diversion Reservoir
Jewel Cave National Monument
Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge
Lake Andes WMD
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Oahe Dam Lake Oahe
Pocasse National Wildlife Refuge
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Sand Lake WMD
South Dakota Recreation Management Area
South Dakota Scenic Byways
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge
Wind Cave National Park