If you start your journey in western South Dakota, Rapid City is the
largest city in that part of our state.
It has one of our major airports and it is located along Interstate 90.
You'll find a wonderful variety of city parks, hiking and biking trails,
The Journey Museum, shopping, and events throughout the year. Rapid
City is the hub from which you can tour several attractions in western
As you travel south out of Rapid City, one of the first major
attractions is Reptile Gardens on Highway
16. They have educational shows that include birds of prey, alligator
wrestling, and information on various snakes from around the world.
They also have birds and tortoises.
Nearby is Bear Country USA , a
drive-through wildlife park, which also includes other wild animals like
lions. They have a great visitor center that is at the end of the
park's drive-through route.
Continuing south, the next major attraction is our most famous
attraction - Mount Rushmore National Memorial on
Highway 244. There are park rangers who give guided tours; they have a
visitor center with park officials on duty; and there is a dining room
and gift shop at the Memorial. The museum has interactive exhibits, a
theater with films about carving the mountain, a walking trail, and a
patriotic evening lighting ceremony.
Not too far away is a mountain carving in progress that pays tribute to
many Native American tribes in North America. You can learn more about
this attraction at Crazy Horse Memorial.org which is off
Highway 386 and 16.
The Black Hills area is also home to Jewel Cave National Monument
which is south and west of Crazy Horse Memorial
and Wind Cave National Park which is south of
Custer State Park which is a
fun place to visit because of the wildlife, especially a heard of 1,500
bison. It covers 71,000 acres.
Also, in the southern Black Hills, you'll find The Mammoth Site in Hot
Springs, which is home to archeological and
paleontological finds. They also have guided tours of the one mammoth
in situ exhibit.
You can also find private businesses like the 1880 Train which offers
short rides on an old rail line between Hill City and Keystone.
For hiking and biking, you can enjoy the 109-mile George S. Mickelson
Trail that follows an old railroad line in the Black Hills, complete
with restored bridges and tunnels. It winds through scenic landscapes. There are trail heads and
bicycle rentals in several cities.
Custer State Park covers
71,000 acres and is home to bison, elk, Bighorn sheep, mountain goats,
antelope, deer, donkeys, and many bird species
If you decide to travel to the northern Black Hills on Highway 385, you
can visit the city of Deadwood where you will
find mining history and legends of the Wild West.
After your time in Deadwood, you can travel north and get back on
Interstate 90. If you go west on Interstate 90, you'll find the city of
Spearfish at Exit 12. It is home to the High Plains Western Heritage
Center. They have wonderful
displays on the ranching history of our state, including a gift shop
with books, jewelry, and art.
Get back on Interstate 90 and travel east to the city of Sturgis where
you'll find a museum devoted to motorcycles.
As you continue east on Interstate 90, you'll pass through Rapid City,
but continue for 55 miles to the city of Wall at Exit 110 to the famous
Wall Drug Store where you'll find wonderful
cake donuts and buffalo burgers, a great book store, and fun gifts to
purchase. In addition, they have one of the largest collections of
original western art in the United States showcased on their dining room
If you travel south of Wall on Highway 240, you'll find Badlands
National Park . The landscape here is moonlike
and the spires and buttes are layered in different colors of dirt - from
sulfur yellow to rust to gray. They have a visitor center with films
that tell the geological history of the park, which was once an
underwater sea. You can get back on the Interstate at Exit 131 after
you've traveled through the Badlands.
Next stop is the Pioneer Auto Show in
Murdo at Exit 192. The museum has over 275 cars plus several other
motorized exhibits and replicas of buildings that one would have found
in a pioneer town.
South Dakota is divided from north to south by the Missouri River, where
you can find tales about the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. This
group of explorers mapped this part of the United States in 1804-1806.
The State Capitol is in Pierre, 33 miles north of
Interstate 90 at exit 212 along the Missouri River. The official state
website has the photo of our state's Governor Rounds.
From this page, click on Just For Kids and from there "Tour South
Dakota" for a virtual tour of the Capitol Building. The Cultural
Heritage Center has exhibits on the state on
early pioneers, Native American history, mining, riverboat travel,
politics, and art of many South Dakota artists. Not only is our history
influenced by the French, our state capitol has a mosaic floor that was
tiled by Italian artisans. There were 60 of them and each laid a small
blue-colored tile to commemorate their work. No one has ever found all
If you travel south from Pierre and get back on Interstate 90, the next
major city is Chamberlain on the Missouri river. On the same campus as
the Saint Joseph Indian School is the Akta Lakota Museum.
They have exhibits of Native American life
as well as displays from many of South Dakota's Native American artists.
The next major city along Interstate 90 is Mitchell. They have a fun
attraction called the World's Only Corn Palace, originally built in the
early 1890s to showcase South Dakota's agricultural yields. You will
recognize the architecture of the building.
About 65 miles east of Mitchell is intersection of Interstate 29, which
runs north and south through South Dakota. You can turn north and
travel to Watertown to visit a small, but fascinating zoo - Bramble Park
and Zoo. They have several species of
local birds and animals plus wild animals from around the world. The
Goss Opera House in downtown Watertown is currently hosting a traveling
King Tut exhibit. During the first weekend in August, the Redlin Art
Center gives a free evening concert and the
entertainment in 2009 includes Sawyer Brown. The Redlin Art Center is
dedicated to one of America's favorite artists, Terry Redlin, where most
of Mr. Redlin's original art is displayed. The building design is Greek
with several gazebos and ponds on the property.
In northeastern South Dakota, you'll find more French explorer influence
at the Nicollet
Tower located near Sisseton, South Dakota. Joseph Nicollet came to
South Dakota and mapped this part of our state. Near Sisseton is Fort
Sisseton State Historical Park
restored living quarters, stables, hospital, and dining room for Civil
War soldiers. There are interpreters on site, but it is fun to walk the
grounds and climb the lookout tower. It is located on the highest bluff
in the middle of the prairie.
If you turn south onto Interstate 29 from Interstate 90, you'll find our
state's largest city of Sioux Falls. They
have many city parks and biking and hiking trails throughout the city.
In downtown Sioux Falls, is the restored Falls Park with a viewing
tower, walking trails, and an artists' center. They have an Outdoor
Learning Center and the Sertoma Butterfly House. Sioux Falls has a
historic district and downtown Sioux Falls has small unique shops,
restaurants, and old churches.
Off of the Interstate and in east of Pierre on Highway 14, you'll find
the small town of Huron. If you're in South Dakota during June, you can
attend an Outdoor Expo, June 13-14. There
are over 100 activities that are all hands-on including kayaking,
shotgun shooting, panning for gold, fly fishing, cooking over campfires,
trapping, hunting dog demonstrations, and archery. All free.
There are private art galleries filled with work of local artists, which
includes many works of art by Native Americans across the state.
There are many more towns and cities that have unique museums and
Have a safe trip along South Dakota scenic trails!
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