South Dakota Vacation Planner

2024 South Dakota Visitors Guide

Whether seeking respite, outdoor adventure or historical enlightenment, South Dakota offers a complementary balance of scenic brilliance and cultural heritage that keeps visitors coming back. The Black Hills area in the southwestern part of the state is undoubtedly one of the earth’s treasures, showcasing unprecedented rock formations and mysterious caverns. Hikers delight in the endless trails at the 71,000-acre (28,732-ha) Custer State Park, inhabited by thousands of roaming bison and wild animals. Giant stone carvings of former United States presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln greet visitors from the side of the world-famous Mount Rushmore in Keystone. Eastern South Dakota, home to many lakes and three major rivers, is a haven for fishermen, hunters, golfers and skiers alike. Mitchell features the world’s only Corn Palace, and De Smet preserves the heritage of Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House stories. Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s most populated city, boasting many state parks, recreation areas and, of course, the legendary falls.

Eastern South Dakota

Glaciers that moved across northeastern South Dakota roughly 20,000 years ago left behind a trove of glacial lakes, resulting in a haven for bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The northern part of the region harbors over 120 glacial lakes and the renowned Glacial Lakes and Prairie Birding Trail, one of the most productive waterfowl breeding areas in North America and home to over 300 species of birds. In the southeastern part of South Dakota is Sioux Falls, the state’s cultural epicenter and largest city. The 14-mile (23-km) Greenway Trail makes a sweeping loop around the city’s impressive falls. In the summer, be sure to take in the annual Yankton Riverboat Days and Summer Arts Festival, which features over 150 arts and crafts booths, a parade, dance shows, and children’s activities. Watertown is the hometown of celebrated artist Terry Redlin, and visitors can see over 130 of his original paintings at the three-story Redlin Art Center.

Black Hills & Badlands

With its natural beauty and mystic nuances, it is no wonder the Lakota Indians found the Black Hills to be such a spiritual place. The Black Hills Region covers a large area in the western part of South Dakota and has many state parks and wonders of nature. Wildlife roams freely at Custer State Park, one of the largest parks in South Dakota and home to a large bison population. Rapid City is the main center in the area, and each year the city hosts the Black Hills Pow Wow, a cultural event that showcases traditional American Indian dancing. Located southeast of Rapid City, Badlands National Park has amazing rock formations, scenic nature trails, and ranger-led programs. The world-famous Mount Rushmore in Keystone honors the legacy of American Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. In the town of Deadwood, a genuine remnant of the Wild West, visitors can see Calamity Jane’s gravesite and the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing poker.

South Dakota Heartland

The mighty waters of the Missouri river are the domination feature of the South Dakota heartland. The river is known for its plentiful supply of walleye, attracting anglers eager to embark on their own fishing trips or take a guided charter. A bounty of state recreation areas plays host to activities including camping, mountain biking, swimming, boating, and wildlife observation. Situated on the Missouri River in central South Dakota, the capital city of Pierre boats an enjoyable blend of history and recreation. The 115-acre grounds of the city’s State Capital Complex are close to several monuments and memorials of interest.

Keystone Visitors Guide

Approximately 90 mi (145 km) west of Denver, Keystone is most well-known for the Keystone Resort. From a base area elevation of 9400 ft (2865 m), the Resort offers more than 2,000 acres (809 ha) of skiing on three mountains reaching elevations of 3,000 ft (914 m). Only 5 mi (8 km) north of Keystone, the Arapahoe Basin ski area boasts the highest skiable terrain in North America. After ski season, which frequently extends into July and sometimes into August, numerous outdoor activities are also available, from rafting area rivers to canoeing at the Dillon Reservoir to hiking The Colorado Trail. Challenging golf courses are also provided by the Keystone Ranch Golf Course and the River Course at Keystone. Another popular recreation site is Pike National Forest, which features fishing streams, wilderness areas, campgrounds, scenic byways and miles of trails.

Sioux Falls SD Visitors Guide

Founded at the dramatic waterfalls of the Big Sioux River near the borders between Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota. With engaging museums, eclectic art galleries, and several golf courses and parks, Sioux Falls provides a mixture of history, culture, and recreation. Livestock and agricultural hub, Sioux Falls is an important distribution center for farms and communities in the northern plains of the United States. Dozens of lakes and thousands of acres of open prairie yield exceptional hunting and fishing opportunities. For family fun, spend a day at Wild Water West Waterpark. The city’s Western and pioneer heritage is proudly displayed in festivals like Spirit of the West, which celebrates the early days of Sioux Falls in the 19th century. Other annual events in Sioux Falls include Siouxland Renaissance Festival in June, JazzFest in July and Sidewalk Arts Festival in September.

Pierre, SD Visitors Guide

The capital city of South Dakota, Pierre is a state trade and transportation hub and has been since its establishment on the east bank of the Missouri River, opposite Fort Pierre, in 1880. A city rich in history and natural recreational areas, Pierre has much to offer culture vultures, outdoor enthusiasts and family vacationers alike. The Pierre State Capitol Complex is home to the famous Capitol building—a 1910 architectural work of art, and the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, along with the South Dakota National Guard Museum, preserve and celebrate the state’s heritage. The great outdoors are ready and waiting at a number of parks, including the LaFramboise Island Nature Area and Farm Island Recreation Area, both of which boast excellent birding opportunities and trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Cyclists and walkers will be further impressed with the network of trails and pathways that wind in and around the city, including part of the renowned Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, while Farm Island and Lake Oahe are popular places to make a splash, especially on a pair of water skis. Visitors soaking up Pierre’s sunshine in June may be lucky to catch the Oahe Days Arts Festival, a major family event celebrating the city’s heritage, culture and creativity.