Must-See Sites in South Dakota!

Wonderguide by

Christy Woodrow

Must-See Sites in South Dakota!

South Dakota is a beautiful, diverse state filled with fascinating history. Here are my favorite sites in the state!

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Best Parks

The dreamiest, most scenic parks in South Dakota.

Image - Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Christy:Badlands National Park is a park full of sprawling canyons and beautiful rock formations. It's one of South Dakota's top attractions, and a must-see on any roadtrip through the state. Just be sure to have cash on hand -- there's a $20 entrance fee!
Image - Bear Butte State Park
Bear Butte State Park
Christy:Located in the Black Hills, Bear Butte State Park is home to wild bison, hiking trails, and Bear Mountain - a 4,526 tall mountain from which you can see 4 states! The park is also filled with vibrant Lakota heritage and sprawling, unbridled wilderness.
Image - Custer State Park
Custer State Park
Christy:Custer State Park is the place to go to see (and photograph) herds of majestic Bison. It's estimated that nearly 60 million buffalo call this park home, and I recommend visiting in September when you'll get the chance to watch the annual buffalo roundup.
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Historical Landmarks

South Dakota is full of history. These are some of the best historical landmarks.

Image - Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Christy:Mt. Rushmore is one of South Dakota's most iconic monuments, drawing almost 3 million people per year. I recommend visiting the monument early in the morning when you can catch the golden glow from the sun on the mountain and beat the crowds. While there, be sure to walk the Presidential Trail and take lots of photos!
Image - Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial
Christy:The Crazy Horse Memorial is a site of great national importance -- both to the Native Americans and to the country as a whole. The creation of the Crazy Horse Memorial was an incredible feat; Chief Standing Bear's face alone is over 500 feet tall. Note that tours of the site start at around $15.
Image - Deadwood
Christy:Are you a Wild West history buff? Then taking a stroll around the town of Deadwood is a must! The town is a designated Historical Landmark, and is loaded with gold mining and wild-west history, so be sure to sign up for a walking tour, grab a drink at the famous Saloon #10, and take plenty of photos of the era-specific buildings. They even have shootout reenactments on Main Street!
Image - Wall Drug Store
Wall Drug Store
Christy:Wall Drug Store is part restaurant, part indoor mall, and part historical monument. Premiering in 1931, this must-see center is the place to eat a delicious maple donut, get your coffee fix, and stock up on souvenirs (there are some stunning handmade goods sold here).

Natural Sites

There's no shortage of beautiful nature in South Dakota!

Image - Spearfish
Christy:Spearfish Canyon is rugged mountains, lush forests, crystal-clear streams, and underground caves. It's the perfect place to spend a day hiking!
Image - Black Hills National Forest
Black Hills National Forest
Christy:Black Hills National Forest is known for its scenery and dramatic rock formations. If you visit in winter, take advantage of snowshoeing or snowmobiling through the area. The forest is also home to over 450 miles of trails to explore. I recommend the Iron Mountain Trail as a starting point.
Image - Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Christy:Jewel Cave National Monument is the third-longest cave in the world and thus is a great place to spend a few hours exploring. The cave is home to over 194 miles of underground tunnels and passageways, and you'll find many fragile rock formations as you explore.
Image - Spearfish Falls
Spearfish Falls
Christy:It's always a good time to visit a waterfall, and Spearfish is one of South Dakota's best! If you visit in Winter, expect the waterfall to be partially frozen. Wear boots with good traction!
Image - Terry Peak Ski Area
Terry Peak Ski Area
Christy:Terry Peak Ski Area is a must for any ski or snowboarding enthusiast. Be sure to pack appropriately!

Best Eats

Re-fuel between sites at these great restaurants!

Image - Latchstring Restaurant
Latchstring Restaurant
Christy:Located in the Spearfish Canyon Lodge, grabbing a bite at Latchstring Restaurant is the perfect way to fuel up before a day hiking the area. The meals here are affordable and delicious, and the restaurant is just a short walk from the waterfalls!
Image - Carvers' Café
Carvers' Café
Christy:Carver's Cafe is the perfect pit stop while visiting Mt Rushmore. Not only does the cafe have great coffee and snacks, but it also features a beautiful view of the monument!

Where to Stay

These three hotels are great options for recharging after long days of exploring.

Image - The Rushmore Hotel & Suites, BW Premier Collection
The Rushmore Hotel & Suites, BW Premier Collection
Christy:Located in Rapid City, The Rushmore Hotel & Suites is the perfect place to kick back and relax after a long day of exploring. Be sure to wander Rapid City's quaint Main Street as well!
Image - The Lodge at Deadwood
The Lodge at Deadwood
Christy:The perfect accommodation for when you're exploring Deadwood, The Lodge at Deadwood is a cozy, reasonably priced option that features a casino and two award-winning restaurants.
Image - Spearfish Canyon Lodge
Spearfish Canyon Lodge
Christy:Spearfish Canyon Lodge is a 5-star property that features a restaurant, bar, hot tub, and garden. It's the perfect place to base yourself while you explore Spearfish Canyon, and it's less than 20 miles from Deadwood. Spearfish Canyon Lodge is South Dakotan luxury at it's finest!

Wonderguide map

  1. Badlands National Park
  2. Bear Butte State Park
  3. Custer State Park
  4. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  5. Crazy Horse Memorial
  6. Deadwood
  7. Wall Drug Store
  8. Spearfish
  9. Black Hills National Forest
  10. Jewel Cave National Monument
  11. Spearfish Falls
  12. Terry Peak Ski Area
  13. Latchstring Restaurant
  14. Carvers' Café
  15. The Rushmore Hotel & Suites, BW Premier Collection
  16. The Lodge at Deadwood
  17. Spearfish Canyon Lodge

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