South Dakota offers a wealth of natural surprises in the Great Outdoors. The “Great 8,” while just a sampling of the fun that awaits you in the Mount Rushmore State, beckons with adventures that long have been rated among the world’s best.
Badlands National Park
The park sculpted by erosion is breathtaking in its austere beauty. Badlands Loop Road was named one of the most scenic winter drives by Travel + Leisure, which called the park itself one of the best views in the nation.
Crazy Horse Memorial
After work ended on Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Korczak Ziolkowski began carving his tribute to the Native American spirit on Thunderhead Mountain. The work depicts Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, on horseback. Want to witness the historic carving in progress? Tours are available spring through fall.
Custer State Park
This beloved state park in the southern Black Hills, which is consistently named one of the 10 best state parks in the U.S., has something for every exertion level, from walk-in trout fishing and climbing cathedral spires of granite, to plush lodges and wildlife watching from your car.
Jewel Cave National Monument
The third-longest cave in the world with more than 280 kilometers of mapped passages, this underground maze features an abundance of calcite spar crystals and the rare hydromagnesite balloons.
The Mighty Missouri in the center of the state, and its lakes – Oahe, Sharpe, Francis Case and Lewis & Clark – make up one of the state’s premier recreational areas offering hunting, fishing, boating, sailing, skiing, wildlife watching and archaeology.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Begun in 1927 under the direction of Gutzon Borglum and dedicated 14 years later, the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were an instant attraction and have become an iconic symbol of the United States.
Wind Cave National Park
About 16 kilometers north of Hot Springs in the southern Black Hills is the first cave ever to be designated a national park. In Wind Cave National Park, visitors can see bison, pronghorn and elk. The Lakota people consider the cave to be the place where their ancestors emerged from the underworld.
The historic gold-mining town of Deadwood is a great base camp for your outdoor explorations in the Black Hills – not to mention a history-lover’s dream. Stroll its 1880s-era streets and find fine restaurants, gaming and diverse live entertainment.
Getting there: Getting to South Dakota is easy and convenient via connecting flights from many international gateway airports including: Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, Denver in Colorado, Chicago O’Hare in Illinois, Salt Lake City in Utah, Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia.