Take a South Dakota Road Trip

Experience the varied wonders of this intriguing 40th state.

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Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Photo By: The South Dakota Department of Tourism

Rapid City, South Dakota

The best place to start your South Dakota adventure is Rapid City, which is an ideal base for exploring such nearby attractions as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (pictured), Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Stay at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson and enjoy fun side trips to Cosmos Mystery Area and Reptile Gardens.

Hot Springs, South Dakota

Whether you are looking for great hiking or bike trails, buffalo and black bear sightings or geological wonders, The Black Hills National Forest has something for everyone. Visit an active paleontological dig at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (pictured) and explore Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument.

Deadwood, South Dakota

U.S. history buffs will want to visit the infamous town of Deadwood where such frontier legends as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane walked the streets during the gold rush of the 1870s. Stay at the historic Bullock Hotel (pictured), throw back a whiskey at Saloon #10 and visit the Broken Boot Gold Mine. Nature lovers can explore nearby Spearfish Canyon and fisherman can indulge in their favorite pastime at Rocky Point near the Belle Fourche Reservoir.

Badlands National Park

The stunning landscapes of Badlands National Park have been immortalized in photography books, movies, TV travel shows and more but nothing compares to the real thing. One way to experience it is by car via the Badlands Loop State Byway with its 16 designated scenic overlooks. You can also delve into Native American history at the nearby Red Cloud Heritage Center, the Oglala Lakota College Historical Center, and the Wounded Knee Massacre Site.

Wall, South Dakota

A great home base for exploring the Badlands National Park is Wall, which is home to the famous roadside attraction Wall Drug (pictured); it has been in operation since 1931. Step back in time at the nearby Minuteman Missile National Site for a crash course in Cold War era history. You can also view the local wildlife and learn about the prairie ecosystem at the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

Chamberlain, South Dakota

As you drive east on Interstate 90 near Chamberlain you’ll see the magnificent 50-foot-tall statue entitled Dignity on a bluff overlooking the surrounding area; it was created by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the Lakota and Dakota people. Other local attractions include the Lewis and Clark Interpretive & Keelboat Center, the Akta Lakota Museum and the Missouri River which is a fisherman’s paradise.

Mitchell, South Dakota

One of the more unusual sights you’ll see in South Dakota is the world’s only Corn Palace in Mitchell which hosts major music and entertainment events. Other recommended local attractions include the Prehistoric Indian Village, the McGovern Legacy Museum and the imaginative Porter Sculpture Park, a famous roadside attraction in nearby Montrose.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Located on the southeastern edge of South Dakota, Sioux Falls is a family-friendly destination for sightseeing, shopping, and natural wonders like Falls Park (pictured) with its famous waterfalls and 123 acres of recreational fun. Other popular destinations include the Kirby Science Discovery Center, the Butterfly House and Aquarium, popular brew pubs like Monks House of Ale Repute and local foodie favorites like the Phillips Avenue Diner.

Watertown, South Dakota

Heading north from Sioux Falls on Interstate 29 you will find a wonderful mix of culture, history and the arts in Watertown, starting with the Redlin Art Center (pictured). Explore the historic downtown area and enjoy a meal and drinks at the renovated Goss Opera House. Visit the Codington County Heritage Museum to view fascinating artifacts or relax in luxury on Lake Elsie at the Buffalo Ridge Resort.

Sisseton, South Dakota

At the northeast corner of South Dakota stands Sisseton, which is a tourist destination for the Joseph N. Nicollet Tower and Interpretive Center, offering breathtaking views of the great valley from a 75-foot observation tower. While you are there, check out the Stavig House Museum (on the National Register of Historical Places), view the monumental sculpture known as the Song to the Great Spirit at Sisseton Wahpeton College and immerse yourself in the geological history of the area at Sica Hollow.

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