South Dakota is not a place that mass transit has really taken hold. With such a sparse population, it's not likely to anytime soon. Getting getting around the vast state is most easily accomplished in your own vehicle. We were driving around the national parks of the western US for six months so a our car was the only logical choice and allowed us to carry all the gear we needed for our various endeavors.
Typical distances: Badlands National Park Visitor Center to Rapid City-85 miles or 1.5 hours. Badlands National Park to Mount Rushmore National Memorial-100 miles or 2 hours. Badlands National Park to Orient, SD-220 miles or 4.5 hours. Badlands National Park to Sioux Falls-280 miles or 4.5 hours.
Most of South Dakota is not very exiting to look at. The entire drive from Sioux Falls to the Badlands was very boring and the only places we stopped was the Mitchell Corn Palace and a I-90 rest area that had a nice view of the Missourie River.
I was surprised we didn't get stuck in that! We had to pull the mirrors in to get through. They aren't kidding when they say "no trucks or RVs" !
This tunnel was on the way from Sylvan Lake to Cathedral Sprires trailhead at Custer State Park in the Black Hills.
Northwest serves Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Aberdeen from Minneapolis.
Delta serves Rapid City from Denver and Salt Lake City..
Mesaba Airlines (a NWA Airlink commuter carrier) serves Aberdeen, Pierre, and Sioux Falls.
There are no international flights and nonstops from major cities other than Minneapolis or Denver are very thin on the ground. Northwest has but one daily between Sioux Falls and New York (Newark). Because of this, finding cheap tickets to any SD airport is difficult; there's far too little traffic for any of the cheap carriers like JetBlue or Southwest.
Rail: No passenger service whatsoever
Bus: Jackrabbit Lines
A car is an absolute necessity. Distances are very large, and public transport is very, very sparse. Unhappily, rental car companies tend to charge a lot there because there is comparitively little competition. It's really better to fly into Denver or Minneapolis, rent a car there, and drive on to SD. You'll save money in the long run if you plan to spend more than a week in the state.
To travel in SD you almost must have a car or motorcycle. execept for things in the towns like Sioux Falls or Rapid city or some of the smaller towns you can walk to. A car is necessary to have the most freedom to see the countryside.
When driving in South Dakota, especally to the Black Hills, expect not to have many services. Between Chamberlin and Wall, there are small towns about every 20 miles or so, most with some type of gas station and garage. The weather can be very unpredicatble, snow is possible as early as September and as late as June. If traveling in the winter, be prepared for snow to wipe out small roads. In the summer, trust the local weather reports that say not to cross flooded roads and possible tornadoes.
Between Sioux Falls and Rapid City, there is almost nothing on the radio except country music and talk. Find your favorite CDs, or look into an XM radio.
When travelling through South Dakota you will see these signs.
it is a campaign for roadsafety. A X is placed on the spot of a fatal accident. It is the goal of this campaign to make you think about it, and drive safe.
Well, if you wanted to travel to South Dakota more than a hundred years ago, you probably would have to take a horse and wagon as many of the early settlers did. Today, the best way to see South Dakota would be by car. The roads are not crowded here and don't have to worry about traffic, but I would recommend a highly reliable vehicle and maybe even want to carry a cell phone for emergencies. The towns are far and few between here. Don't let your gas gauge go below half here.
Take a drive into the wide open spaces of South Dakota and get off the interstate. The feeling of being isolated and alone is something that can easily be experienced especially in central South Dakota. It's a vision of what the old west was like years ago.
Here's a view traveling along Interstate 90 across South Dakota. The landscape stretches for miles and miles. Keep your vehicle gased up and also always carry water with you.
I arrived in Denver (Colorado) by plane and then i arrived in SD by car.
You really must get a car!
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100 Pine Crest Lane, Box 320, Deadwood, South Dakota, 57732, United States
Good for: Families