South Dakota still conjures up images of vast buffalo herds, Sioux warriors and gold prospectors. The state has come a long way since those frontier days, but there are still plenty of these gems to see. View the prairie as it was when it covered the state above ground at Wind Cave National Park. The Old West resurrects Wild Bill Hickok and a slew of professional roustabouts at historic Deadwood. Nearby, Mount Rushmore memorializes America's greatest presidents. Crazy Horse symbolizes a proud Sioux heritage in the Black Hills.
Dugout canoes, animal hides and early 19th-century journals recount the beginnings of America's Western expansion at the Lewis & Clark Family Center in Pierre. Mosaics of multicolored corn kernels adorn the Corn Palace, Mitchell's largest tourist attraction, while Rapid City in the west marks the gateway to South Dakota's national parks. The city's Sioux Indian Museum explains local Native American culture with traditional clothing, tools and crafts, while nearby Deadwood recreates the untamed life of the Old West.
Bald eagles perch in the trees and watch canoeists paddle the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota. Discover the prairie as Laura Ingalls Wilder knew it to the east, in De Smet, where cattle and buffalo herds still graze. A journey through the barren Badlands leads travelers west into the lush Black Hills. Thick pine and spruce forests dominate the rolling landscape once inhabited by the Sioux. Their proud warrior, Crazy Horse, is memorialized in a dramatic mountainside sculpture.
Eating and Drinking
Grilled steaks and burgers satisfy hungry travelers to South Dakota. Look for lean buffalo burgers and tender elk steaks in Black Hills restaurants, where blue jeans and live country music keep the atmosphere lively and casual. Steak Oscar, with crab meat and béarnaise sauce, can be found in the capital of Pierre, while succulent pheasant appears in Sioux Falls eateries.
Fierce water and wind erosion carved the rock formations at Badlands National Park into something resembling a lunar landscape. Shades of rose and orange wash over the bizarre buttes and mesas, especially at sunrise and sunset, when hiking the Badlands is most memorable. The busts of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln gaze down from their shared Black Hills mountaintop at Mount Rushmore National Monument, while the treasures of nearby Wind Cave National Park lie underground, hidden from view.