A Travel Guide to South Dakota
South Dakota is a Midwestern state capped to the north by its namesake of North Dakota with Montana and Wyoming forming its west. Minnesota and Iowa border it to the east with Nebraska completing the neighbourly embrace on its southern base. The capital of the state is Pierre and the largest city is Sioux Falls.
This is the famous state where the sagacious faces of the famous four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, are stonily carved into the side of Mount Rushmore. As in contrast there is another large memorial here too whose construction has been in progress since 1948. When finished it will be a 563 feet high statue of Crazy Horse – the Sioux Native American Indian leader. At present there is a visitor’s centre which also accommodates a museum that retells the history and culture of the Native Americans.
From monumental history to a monumental fortune that pioneered the foundation of the wild frontier city of Deadwood. In the latter end of the19th century a canyon now known as Deadwood Gulch was found filled with gold. This started a gold rush and also attracted the lawless: like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane and the lawman Sheriff Seth Bullock trying to establish order. It is the basis for the television series of the same name with Ian McShane playing a saloon owner. Nowadays the whole city is recognised as a National Historic Landmark and through casino management replays the Wild West with staged gun shootouts. The old train depot houses the Deadwood History and Information Center that gives information on events and also displays which help to relive the lawless past.
The Badlands National Park in the southwest is a designated wilderness area with swathes of eroded rock formations surrounded by grass prairies – the home to endangered mammals such as the black footed ferret. Also close to Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore is Custer State Park. It is the second largest state park in America and has herds of wild animals with mighty buffalo, graceful deer and cute, curious burros dotting the wild grassed landscape. There are many hiking trails to explore, or visitors can take to horseback or ride in a jeep on a buffalo safari. There are also water ventures on the mountain lakes with kayaking, canoeing and fishing. This area is also famous for its scenic byways.
Hot Springs in South Dakota is home to several attractions including the Mammoth Site – where the paleontological carefully preserved remains of the mammoth can be seen. There is also the Wind Cave National Park and its wondrous calcite formations known as boxwork. There is the Wildlife Horse Sanctuary, and for a welcome respite from the warmest place in South Dakota there is also a river resort and an indoor water park and pool.
There is plenty of self-catering vacation rental accommodation available in South Dakota from cabins located in the Black Hills and overlooking mountain lakes to large vacation homes and condos in the cities.