While the incredible Mount Rushmore rightfully features on most tourists’ itineraries, South Dakota has much, much more to offer adventurous travelers. Besides its beautiful badlands and monument-filled cities, the Midwestern state has a rich history and heritage to explore with famous figures like Lewis and Clark, Crazy Horse, General Custer, and Sitting Bull all having left their mark on both it and the United States.
Located in the North Central region of the US, South Dakota is bordered by its northern namesake, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. Also part of the Great Plains, it is bisected by the Missouri River with each half being geographically and socially distinct from the other. While ‘East River’ is home to most of its main population centers and lots of low-lying plains, prairies and plateaus that are perfect for farming, the rural ‘West River’ boasts all of its most alluring landscapes, scenery and nature.
While ranches and Native American reservations coat most of the state’s western side, the southwest is home to the awe-inspiring canyons, ravines, and rock formations of both Badlands National Park and Black Hills National Forest. The remarkably long cave systems of Jewel Cave and Wind Cave can also be found here as can Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Due to its proximity to all these stunning sights, Rapid City makes for a great base with its sizeable centre also being dotted with impressive life-size statues of each former US president. After having seen the ‘City of Presidents’ and enjoyed some epic outdoor activities amid its scenic surroundings, Sioux Falls is well worth visiting for its wonderful waterfalls and lively downtown district.
The small towns of Deadwood and Wall also have lots of interesting Wild West-related historic sites and cultural landmarks to check out while visitors can learn more about Native American culture and traditions on one of the state’s many reservations.