Thunderstorm in Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Custer State Park, South Dakota
For South Dakota visitors are drawn out of the cities to observe wildlife and enjoy recreation in the vast and numerous national and state parks and along scenic roads. They discover unsuspected treasures off the beaten track, the history of the Wild West and the Amerindian culture that sparks their curiosity and inspires them to learn more.
Discover the region
More than a river, the Missouri River separates the state of Mount Rushmore into two parts: mountains in the west and large plains in the east, drained by many rivers and streams including the Minnesota and James Rivers. To the southwest, there is Badlands National Park, home to the famous Black Hills and the state's highest peak, Harney Peak (7,240 feet), a paleontological site renowned for its Oligocene Age fossils. There are many hiking trails inside the park, nothing beats walking along them during the cool summer mornings. Nature, humans and horses find themselves in these vast, sparsely populated areas where only a few Indians preserve the spirit of the place. The same impression emerges from the sacred mountain of Bear Butte State Park, which can be climbed by the whole family, by one of the paths accessible to children, to reach Lake Butter Bear, or to extend by the Summit Trail for the more adventurous.
The state's major tourist attraction remains Mount Rushmore, a 60-foot high granite sculpture representing four American presidents who shaped the history of their country: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. This mythical sculpture traces 150 years of history. A pure wonder by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum (father and son) that more than two million visitors come to admire every year.
Going to Mount Rushmore without also going to the Crazy Horse Memorial would be a shame. The Indian counterpart of Mount Rushmore was built there. A monumental sculpture that will become, when completed, the largest sculpture in the world. Indian chief Crazy Horse mounted on his mustang and facing east overlooks the plains where the Indians were cheerfully massacred by the Yankees. Of course, this memorial does not benefit from any support from the American state, reminding us of some inglorious events of the rush towards the West.
In Custer State Park, in the heart of the Black Hills, in addition to hiking, it is climbing that is popular, including the famous Harney Peak ascent. Bison watching and fishing for multiple fish are on the agenda, before heading to Deadwood, a small town steeped in history and myths of all kinds, such as that of the legendary adventurer from the American West, "Calamity Jane", whose grave can be found at the alleged murder site of her friend Wild Bill Hickok.
Finally, every three years, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a Harley Davidson motorcycle meeting is held in Sturgis in the northwestern part of the state, attracting no less than 500,000 people from all over the country.