Camping in South Dakota
Sure, South Dakota is known for famous landmarks like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Crazy Horse Memorial and the historic city of Deadwood, but there's so much more to explore. Prehistoric beasts and world-famous pioneers along with native and old west legends all called South Dakota home at one time. When you visit South Dakota, you can discover thousands of years of history in its abundant fossil fields, walk in the footsteps of legends like Wild Bill Hickok and Laura Ingalls Wilder, or experience American Indian heritage first hand at a powwow.
Known as America's Shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the 60-foot faces of four great American presidents representing the birth, growth, development and preservation of our nation. The park is open year-round and includes a half-mile walking trail, museum, gift shop and dining room. Each evening, May through September, a ceremony is held in the park's outdoor amphitheater highlighting the making of the monument with a flag-lowering ceremony, a salute to veterans and the lighting of the memorial.
The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. Explore the Wall formation which stretches 60 miles, revealing sedimentary rock layers exposed by eons of erosion, and enjoy a number of overlooks that show off panoramic vistas.
Crazy Horse Memorial
In 1939, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was invited to carve a memorial honoring all North American Indians by Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. The result is the still in progress Crazy Horse Memorial, which, once complete will be the largest mountain carving in the world. Visitors can come to see the work in progress and learn more about Native American culture at the site’s museum and cultural center.
Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo
Held annually in late January through early February in Rapid City, the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo is the second largest event in South Dakota. Get a taste of the wild west when you attend events like cattle shows and sales, team roping, an American Quarter Horse show, and, of course, rodeos backed by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
Sioux Falls Jazzfest
This free annual festival has become a summer favorite where visitors enjoy three days of music from musicians playing jazz, blues, Zydeco, Latin, reggae, big band, rock, soul, funk and more. Typically set for late July, you can catch national and local acts while sampling the goods from vendors selling a variety of food, drinks and goods.
Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival
Each fall, park staff, cowboys and cowgirls saddle up in Custer to move the park's 1,500 bison to the buffalo corrals at this exciting and unique event that is open to public viewing. The Buffalo Roundup is an important part of the park's resource management program, helping to control the size of the park's bison population. Prior to the roundup, enjoy the Buffalo Roundup Arts festival which includes live entertainment, a chili cook-off, and heritage arts and crafts exhibits.
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Annual Wacipi
Held annually over Fourth of July weekend, the Sisseton Wahpeton Ovate Wacipi is the oldest powwow in South Dakota and one of the oldest in the nation. With up to 1,000 dancers donning colorful regalia, this event is a treat for all the senses. Additional activities include an adult and youth rodeo, softball tournament, and more.
Black Hills Caverns
This underground world filled with a large variety of rock formations was once a site where Lakota Indians found strength in the power of the calcite crystals. Now, visitors can explore the caverns on a variety of tours, learn about gemstone mining, and even try their hand at mineral panning at this natural wonder.
Over 26,000 years ago, mammoths, behemoths that roamed the Earth long ago, became trapped in sinkhole near what is now Hot Springs, South Dakota. First discovered in 1974, this site is now an active paleontological dig site where visitors can get a firsthand view of fossils that give a glimpse straight into the Ice Age. To date, fossils from 61 mammoths have been identified at the site, making this the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world.
A product of the gold rush, Deadwood was once filled with bars and brothels and was home to legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock. Today, you can still get a taste of the Wild West at this town where a daily shootout still takes place every day on Main Street. Try your hand at one of the town’s casinos, visit museums and gold mine sites, take in a show at the playhouse, or enjoy a feast at one of the many restaurants.
Red Cloud Indian Art Show
Held for ten weeks over the summer, this free art show is the perfect addition to your next road trip. Emerge yourself in the Native Art world at this show which is held on a reservation. Each year, the exhibition features a variety of works including painting, photography, bead-work, quill-work, and more.