Mount-Rushmore-National-MemorialChad Coppess/SD Tourism

By Merle Rosenstein

South Dakota’s four distinct regions deliver vastly different visitor experiences. Southeast South Dakota celebrates the state’s agricultural bounty and chronicles encounters between early explorers and Natives. In the northeast, culture and history play a major role at art centres and on town tours. Glacial lakes in the northeast offer ample opportunity for outdoor adventure with more than 708 kilometres of waterways. Pointed granite peaks and tree-covered mountains create awe-inspiring views in western South Dakota.

Farmlands, Heritage & Culture
In the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to travel through Louisiana to the Pacific Ocean and investigate trade opportunities. The expeditions took place between 1804 and 1806 and today the Lewis and Clark Trail along the Missouri River traces the path taken by these early explorers.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark met Native tribes telling of 18-inch devils with arrows on a prairie hill. Lewis and Clark set out to find these devils and after a four-hour trek, saw a roaming herd of 800 buffalo. Today visitors to Spirit Mound can follow a 1.2 kilometre trail that commemorates this historic tale.
In August of the same year, Lewis and Clark met the Yankton Sioux at Calumet Bluff to talk about trade and offer gifts. An interpretive centre describes this first encounter and other meetings between Lewis and Clark and the Natives of South Dakota.  

De Smet – Laura Ingalls WilderSouth Dakota Tourism
Glacial Lakes & Prairies
History also plays a prominent role in northeast South Dakota. In De Smet, families can see the site of the Ingalls homestead from the TV series, Little House on the Prairie, take a covered wagon ride in Laura’s Living Prairie, learn a lesson in the old schoolhouse and see live demonstrations of pioneer life.

Aberdeen allows adults to release their inner child at Storybook Land and the Land of Oz, Wylie Park and Campground, Aberdeen Aquatic Centre and Sand Lake National Wild Life Refuge.
With hundreds of glacial lakes, northeast South Dakota attracts outdoor enthusiasts to its many campgrounds. Webster, the centre of the Glacial Lakes area, has more rivers than any other county in South Dakota. Known for excellent waterfowl hunting and fishing, Webster is also perfectly positioned for winter sports such as snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Great Lakes
The Missouri River figures prominently in the sparsely populated Great Lakes Region. With more than 708 kilometres of waterways, the Great Lakes Region floats many boats, and accommodates windsurfing and sailing. Anglers and hunters love this region for the large supply of pheasants, waterfowl and big-game animals.

South Dakota’s nine Indian tribes – known collectively as the Sioux - welcome visitors to their tribal lands with powwows, gaming, and craft markets.

Black Hills, Badlands and Caves
Western South Dakota yields underground caves, spectacular state and national parks, and quaint western towns. The Black Hills, the oldest mountains in America are perfect for outdoor adventure.
Made famous by Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, the Black Hills town of Deadwood operates 86 gaming halls, 3,000 slot machines and 90 gaming tables. Free concerts keep non-gambling folks entertained. The city of Custer is a hub in the Black Hills surrounded by ponderosa pine and granite outcroppings, spacious caves and roaming bison.

Wonderland Cave south of Deadwood has the largest variety of rock formations in the Midwest. Black Hills Caverns displays a variety of formations such as logomytes, frost crystal, stalactites, stalagmites, helectites and colourful calcite crystals. Located west of Custer Jewel Cave National Monument, the second-longest cave in the world has more than 216 kilometres of passages.

WindCave00018South Dakota Dept Tourism
Walking tours of Rushmore Cave east of Keystone reveal the beauty of the stalactite-filled Big Room. Described as walking through a giant geode, Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns showcases dogtooth spar crystals, a mammoth crystalline ceiling and a reflective pool. Wind Cave, in Wind Cave National Park, offers more than 176 kilometres of mapped passages to explore. The fourth longest cave in the world, Wind Cave has boxwork, frostwork and popcorn crystals in 176 kilometres of passages.

Custer-State-Park-Buffalo-RoundupChad Coppess/SD Tourism
Six state and six national parks grace the interior of western South Dakota. Custer State Park hosts one of the largest bison herds in the United States, stunning geological formations and three scenic drives. This year-round park eight kilometres south of Custer operates eight campgrounds and four resorts. Badlands National Park boasts eye-popping vistas and sites of spiritual importance to the Lakota community. Badlands Loop Scenic Byway runs through the park, giving close-up views of the sunbathed cliffs, sculpted spires, and deep canyons. The huge granite sculpture, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 3.2 kilometres west of Keystone, honours four former presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Just minutes from Mount Rushmore, see an artwork in progress at Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest mountain carving, and learn about sculptor Koraczak Ziolkowski. This memorial is a tribute to the leader who defeated Custer at Little Big Horn.

For more information call 1-800-S-DAKOTA or visit