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 sky can be as dramatic as the spectacularly eroded landscape of South Dakota’s 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

Memorial Crazy Horse
Linda M Uphoff

The warrior’s face has emerged and progress continues to be made on 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

Lago Sylvan no Parque Estadual Custer
Kayakers enjoy the calm waters of Custer State Park’s Sylvan Lake.

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

Jewel Cave

Guided tours make the winding Jewel Cave National Monument come alive. 

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.

Missouri River

Rio Missouri

Recreational opportunities abound on the mighty Missouri River, which bisects the state. 

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

Monte Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the nation’s most iconic attractions. 

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

Wind Cave

Wind Cave National Park in the southern Black Hills is one of the longest caves in the world.

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.

Historic Deadwood


Downtown Deadwood offers diverse entertainment options, lodging options and plenty of Gold Rush era history.

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.