Fun things to do in South Dakota

  • Lincoln and Washington at Mt Rushmore
    Lincoln and Washington at Mt Rushmore
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  • Jefferson at Mt Rushmore
    Jefferson at Mt Rushmore
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  • Roosevelt at Mt. Rushmore
    Roosevelt at Mt. Rushmore
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Most Viewed Things to Do in South Dakota

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    White Prairie Dogs...And Some Historic Stuff Too

    by DueSer Updated Jan 27, 2009

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    I briefly mentioned this place - Prairie Homestead - in my introduction to South Dakota but thought I'd use this place to go into more detail. It's a lot of fun.
    The house and barn, etc. are quite interesting. The houses were built into the side of a hill to conserve building materials and also protect against the nasty weather. As far as I know, this is the last remaining original sod house. Inside the home, they have old furniture and even old newspapers still on the walls. Fascinating.
    The highlight are those little white prairie dogs, though. They have holes dug all over the grounds so stay on the walking paths, otherwise you're likely to twist an ankle. As I mentioned in the intro, they won't run away immediately upon seeing a person but if anyone gets too close they send out a warning noise and then, woosh - down the hole. They are adorable and the people claim that this is the only place to see the white prairie dogs. So it is definitely worth the price of admission.

    Prairie Dogs - So Cute!
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    More on the Badlands National Park

    by DueSer Written Jan 27, 2009

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    I described it a little in my Intro to South Dakota but just for a little more detail, it costs to get in to the park but if you have a pass you can get in for free (these passes are pretty cool - one price gets you into as many national parks as you can visit for a year). They give you a map of the park upon entering and then you are free to drive around at your leisure. There are lookout points, as well as hiking/walking trails, camping, and a visitor's center. I think mornings are the best time to visit. It's so quiet and beautiful. You could swear you were the only person in the park if you get there right when they open.

    Pets are allowed if kept on a leash and they're not allowed on the hiking trails.

    Pronghorn Antelope on a Foggy Morning Same Foggy Morning - Different Scene
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    The World's Only Corn Palace

    by DueSer Written Jan 27, 2009

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    The title "The World's Only Corn Palace" is how they bill this unique structure, which I find hilarious because OF COURSE there's only one, who else but us crazy Americans would think of covering a building in ears of corn?
    It is a fun place to see, though. This has been going on since 1892 and they change the palace's design every year. They are really intricate and well-done. There are gift shops across the street that sell some amazing items - amazing because they're made out of corn - like pens and even the bag your souvenirs are put into.
    If you would like to get out and stretch your legs as you travel down Interstate 90, this is a great place to do it.

    It's Really Made of Corn!

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    Mt. Rushmore Lighting Ceremony

    by tarced Updated Jan 23, 2008

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    The Mt. Rushmore Lighting Ceremony should not be missed. It begins with a park ranger explaining why this site was chosen for the monument along with other information about the area. Then, a movie is shown that explains why each of the presidents were chosen along with a brief history of the nation. After the movie, a "music video" featuring patriotic music plays while the monument is slowly illuminated. When taking pictures, remember to take your flash off to get the best effect on film; however, the pictures don't completely convey its magnificance. The lighting ceremony reminded us of why Mt. Rushmore was created and refreshed our knowledge of these four inspiring presidents. We went to the lighting ceremony first, then went back to the monument the next day since the parking pass was good still.

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    Jewel Cave

    by tarced Updated Jan 9, 2008

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    Jewel Cave's scenic tour is well worth the time if you happen to be in the area for more than two days. The tour is mildly strenuous and has 723 steps (most of which are down). My two boys aged 5 and 7 had no trouble whatsoever with the tour. You cannot call in advance for reservations except for three days before. We did this and I would highly recommend doing so. We took one of the earliest tours of the day and when we were leaving, the tours had a wait time of over an hour for "walk-ins". The caves are cold - 47 degrees or so - so make sure you bring a sweatshirt or jacket. There was a family who wore short-sleeved shirts, shorts, and sandals and they were all miserable. The National Park Service recommends closed-toe shoes and I would have to agree because the ground and steps can be slick in spots. When in the cave, be careful not to brush up against the cave walls. The bottoms of my jeans must have and there was a black substance on them. It came off with pre-treating, but I couldn't wear them for the rest of the trip. You won't see a whole lot of stalactites or stalagmites since the cave wasn't formed by water, but there are a lot of other cool formations.

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    Crazy Horse Monument

    by kop-queen Updated Oct 4, 2007

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    We hadn't really known what to extpect from this visit. It had been no more than a convenient place to visit en route between Hot Springs and Mount Rushmore but I found it quite emotional hearing the history and was in awe of he dedication of the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. Since Korczak's death his family have continued his work and I would love to revisit in years to come to see the finished article though I suspect it may still be a work in progress after I have departed.

    There is an extensive museumwhich tells the story of Native Americans by displaying outstanding examples of Indian culture and heritage. Be sure to attend the orientation presentation in the theatre.

    silhouette against the real thing Much bigger than Mount Rushmore An indication of how it will look when complete The Deadwood stage in the museum
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    Wild Horse Sanctuary, SD

    by kop-queen Updated Oct 2, 2007

    There are over 500 horses in the sanctuary but the horses are only part of the attraction of this place. We took a 2 hour bus tour for $50 but it was surprisingly good value. We had an excellent guide who entertained us with the history of the sanctuary as well as the land, it's history (and current use) by American Indians and even the geology.

    a cool draft comes from the rock here One of the Spanish Mustang herd what a smarty Bucky, one of the wild stallions
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  • Mount Rushmore

    by vador98 Written Sep 18, 2007

    This one's easy - If you only visit South Dakota for a day, this is the thing to do. It's the thing you see on TV, and it's the only thing you hear about when you hear about South Dakota. Some of the facts about it's construction are pretty amazing. Plus, the drive to the mountain is very scenic as well.

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  • Crazy Horse Memorial

    by Mtachiefs Written Jun 14, 2007

    We went to Crazy Horse around 7pm to give plenty of time to see everything before the lazer light show. The man at the desk told me everything was open till after the show. This isnt true. If you are planning on eating dinner here, do that first. The resturant and the snack shop both closed before the 9pm show. So we were starving before we left. The musuem part was great ! Very informative. It gave me goose bumps and made me very proud of that part of my heritage. The lazer light show was worth the money, its beautiful. Sorry I don't have any pics of this but our camera just would't capture the magic of it. The gift shop is pricey but you have to remember that this place is not federally funded and thats how they make the money to finish the project.

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  • Mount Rushmore

    by Mtachiefs Written Jun 14, 2007

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    Mt. Rushmore looks bigger in pictures than it really is. It does make you proud to be an American. The walk of flags was really nice. The place is well kept up and clean. The museum was very interesting and informative. I liked it. If you are renting a car check with them about free parking passes. You dont have to pay to get in just to park.

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  • Bear Country

    by Mtachiefs Written Jun 14, 2007

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    My family loved this place! We took 3 hours to get thru it. The animals were very active and in good shape. There are alot more animals here than just bears. The baby animals at the end I could have watched longer. Very worth the money

    How to scratch an itch in bear country a bear The Great White Buffalo Baby Wolves
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    • Zoo
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    Custer State Park

    by kazander Written Feb 20, 2007

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    A wonderful State Park with lots of wildlife including Buffalo, Elk, Mule Deer and some very forward (and FAT) donkeys..,,Not to mention gorgeous, winding, woodsy roads through rock tunnels and along beautiful cliffs, rock formations and picturesque Sylvan lake.

    more to come

    Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park
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    Badlands National Park

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jan 1, 2007

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    Badlands National Park is made up of 244,000 acres and was established in 1939. For thousands of years Native Americans hunted this area, but were later displaced by homesteaders. Fossil hunters later discovered the great fossil beds here, and in World War II, the US Army Air Corps pilots from Elsworth Air Force Base had a bombing range at the edge of the Badlands.

    During our trip from Colorado to Pennsylvania my dad and I spent a few hours in the Badlands after visiting Mount Rushmore.

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    Mitchell Corn Palace

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Dec 7, 2006

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    There's not another building on earth quite like the Mitchell Corn Palace.

    Established in 1892 and originally called "The Corn Belt Exposition" the third and present building was completed 1921. The unique thing about the Corn Palace is that the entire exterior of the building is made of grains grown and harvested by South Dakota growers. They come in an amazing variety of designs and colors. The exterior of the Palace is completely stripped down every year and new murals are created, so you could make an annual visit and it will never look the same.

    The outside walls are noted for their murals, designed by local artists. New materials are applied to the building each year, depicting life in South Dakota. Thousands of bushels of corn, grasses, wild oats, brome grass, blue grass, rye, straw and wheat are used after every growing season.

    The Corn Palace serves as a multi-use center for Mitchell and the surrounding area. Throughout the year it is used for exhibitions, stage shows, sports events, etc. The Palace was conceived as a unique way of promoting the agricultural abundance that comes from South Dakota's fertile soil. It draws more than a half million visitors annually. This South Dakota Icon stands proudly as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of the state.

    Admission is free to look around the Corn Palace, where you will see a very interesting display of exhibits. South Dakota items are for sale in the gift shop.

    Hours:
    Memorial Day through Labor Day: 8am-9pm Daily
    Hours may vary during the Corn Palace Festival. Please check the Calendar of Events for dates.
    April, May, September & October: 8am - 5pm daily
    November - March: 8am - 5pm Monday through Friday
    *Hours subject to change during events/holidays

    The Mitchell Corn Palace
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    Badlands National Park

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Nov 30, 2006

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    Pioneer settlers called this land "Bad" because it was not good for farming. But it is a very good land for sightseeing, recreation and wildlife. Visitors will find almost a quarter million acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires, blended with the lartgest mixed grass prairie remaining in the United States. This is home to American bison, pronghorn and the most endangered animal in the United States, the black-footed ferret.

    The Stronghold Unit of the Badlands is co-managed by the Ogala Sioux tribe of American Indians and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances. There are also pioneer farmsteads to explore, fossils to find, and trails to hike. Visitor centers offer gift and book shops, orientation films, restrooms and a restaurant. There are two rustic campgrounds where sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    This is the American landscape of legend and old western movies. When the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright visited here he remarked, "I was totally unprepared for the revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands." Perhaps this magical place will catch you by surprise too.

    Hours:
    Open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

    Fees:
    $10.00 per private vehicle, good for 7 days

    Stephen in Badlands National Park
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South Dakota Things to Do

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