South Dakota Travel Information

South Dakota is known for its beautiful, natural landscape.

South Dakota is known for Mount Rushmore, rolling hills and Badlands National Park. While traveling in South Dakota, many people are struck by its natural, unadulterated beauty. Despite its reputation for being somewhat desolate, there are also many wonderful places to eat, shop and stay during travel to or through South Dakota.

Destinations

South Dakota hosts many popular destinations, most notably the easily recognizable Mount Rushmore in the western region of the state. Located in Keystone, the huge sculpture showcases the faces of four of America’s most popular presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The memorial offers more than a glimpse at this behemoth carving, it also offers guided tours and lectures and an evening lighting ceremony from May to September.

Crazy Horse Memorial is also located in the western region of the state, in Crazy Horse. The memorial is the world’s largest sculpture in progress and was started in 1948 to honor the heritage of all Native Americans of North America. The Crazy Horse Memorial is often a setting for rodeos, art shows and hiking.

Badlands National Park is located in interior South Dakota, in the western part of the state. The park is 240,000 acres of buttes and valleys home to bighorn sheep, bison and ferrets. Many people hike and camp in the park. An entrance fee is charged upon entering the park, and the cost varies depending on the time of year.

Custer State Park is located in Custer, in western South Dakata. The park is located in the famous Black Hills, and is home of buffalo and other wildlife. It is a popular destination for bikers, bikers, campers and horseback riders, and has four lakes that many use for canoeing.

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The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society is located in De Smet, in the northeastern part of South Dakota. The society is housed in the original home where Ingalls Wilder wrote “By the Shores of Siler Lake.” There are many famous landmarks in the area for Laura Ingalls Wilder enthusiasts, including the first house that “Pa” Ingalls built, the home where “Ma” and “Pa” lived, and the school she and her younger sister attended.

Lodging

South Dakota offers a variety of lodging for families, business people, single travelers and people on budgets. Depending on the destination, there are hunting lodges, campgrounds, hostels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, motels and hotels. Many are handicap accessible and pet friendly. To find lodging in South Dakota, refer to the South Dakota Office of Tourism (see Resources for a link).

Landscape

The landscape of South Dakota can be awe-inspiring to first-time visitors. The state is full of gently sloping hills, serrated buttes, craggy, rocky mountains and flat, green farmland. South Dakota is a relatively small state in regards to population density, so driving through the state can often seem like a lonely experience; there are few large towns throughout the state. Instead, wildlife and beautiful landscapes can be seen for miles.

Weather

South Dakota has four distinct seasons, with cold winters and hot summers. The weather therefore averages to moderate, with good amounts of rain and snowfall throughout the year. In Sioux Falls, the average yearly rainfall is 24.69 inches and the average yearly snowfall is 41.4 inches. The average yearly high temperature is 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Tornadoes can occur in South Dakota, although not terribly often.

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Emergency Services

According to the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management, you can dial 511 for travel information, such as road conditions due to weather and traffic. In 2009, there were 2,705 total automobile crashes in South Dakota, 841 injuries and 14 fatalities. Call 911 for emergencies.