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South Dakota

South-Dakota

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Interest among all personality types has risen in recent years; measures highest with Centric-Venturers and Centric-Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest mountain sculpture.
  • In South Dakota, each man in the Lewis and Clark party ate about nine pounds of meat daily.
  • It took 14 years and $1 million to carve the four presidential faces on Mount Rushmore
  • The geographic center of the U.S. is 17 miles west of Castle Rock, S.D.
  • It takes 275,000 ears of corn to create the murals on Mitchell’s Corn Palace.

From gunslingers to a ‘Little House’

About 90% of South Dakota is farms and ranches. The state is characterized by a small population and lots of open spaces where not too much happens.

That description, while correct, is misleading given that this state is a place of beauty and a playground for lovers of the outdoors — particularly with reference to the Black Hills and the Badlands. The sizeable Indian population offers special cultural experiences and casino gaming.

Further, the state is identified with Mount Rushmore, one of the country’s most popular attractions; a number of gun-totin’ Old West characters including Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, — and Laura Ingalls Wilder, who set several of her “Little House” books in South Dakota.

Almost without exception, people who like South Dakota refer to the solitude and magnitude of the western part of the state, as well as the abundance of quail, deer and other wildlife. They also mention historical sightseeing in a place that had its own gold rush, as well as its share of colorful personalities.

South Dakotans are largely descended from Scandinavians and Germans, but a significant minority, more than 8% of residents, are of Native American descent.

Gaming is an option here, but with less show and pizzazz than in Las Vegas — and that is just fine with South Dakota’s fans. The state has unique attractions, like the Corn Palace in Mitchell; every year, locals redecorate its exterior walls with stunning mosaics made from multicolored Indian corn and other grains.

South Dakota is a good destination the adventurous; these travelers seek new experiences and enjoy visiting unspoiled places where they will encounter relatively few people. But the state is good for families or any travelers who want to spend peaceful, quality time away from the stresses at home and who appreciate having an educational experience in the bargain.

Hardy souls can go in the winter for the skiing and snowboarding; everyone else will be more comfortable in warmer months. Any time of year, be prepared for the weather to be cooler than one may expect. But above all, the state has some of the friendliest and warmest people found anywhere.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Compete in an ice fishing tournament in Mobridge. There are several South Dakota fishing competitions each year, including some for kids.
  • Join the annual Earthwatch-sponsored excavation project at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. Paleontologists, with help from scores of volunteers, have already unearthed 56 mammoths plus numerous other fossilized animals that died in a spring-fed sinkhole.
  • Kayak down the Missouri River.
  • Dance at one of several powwows staged annually in South Dakota (visitors get their opportunity to participate during the intertribal dance).
  • Go sailing, or jet skiing, or waterskiing at Lake Oahe in the Pierre-Fort Pierre area.
  • Attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, an event that dates from 1938 and now draws hundreds of thousands of like-minded biking enthusiasts. Compete in races, take day trips in the Black Hills — and get a tattoo.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Attend the JazzFest, a large and free music festival in Sioux Falls. A July event, it also includes food and arts vendors.
  • Take photographs, lots of them. Look for wildlife, especially bison and ring-necked pheasants, as subjects.
  • Hike in Custer State Park.
  • See what may be America’s best-known sculpture, the stone carvings of four U.S. presidents at Mount Rushmore. Called the “Shrine of Democracy,” its four faces are 60 feet high and sit 500 feet above their admirers.
  • Ride an 1880 steam train on a two-hour roundtrip journey between Hill City and Keystone.
  • In winter, go ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Get out the binoculars and go bird-watching in a state that is home to nearly 400 species.
  • Attend the Black Hills Passion Play in Spearfish; it has been presented every summer since 1939.
  • Be a leaf peeper. Plan a trip around fall foliage.
  • Visit Deadwood to get a sense of the Old West. Cast your eyes over a town that is so well-preserved the entire place is on the National Historic Register.
  • Forget the sightseeing and play golf.
  • Attend the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in Mitchell, as much to see the Corn Palace as the rodeo. Or just get to this town to see this building covered with mosaics created anew every summer with thousands of bushels of corn and other grains.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the South Dakota Department of Tourism at www.travelsouthdakota.com