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Home of the Perfect Road Trip
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Home to treasures like Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park, South Dakota holds adventure no matter what your age. Six national parks and monuments allow visitors to marvel at a larger-than-life sculpture at Mount Rushmore, hike through other-worldly terrain at Badlands National Park, and explore deep below the surface in two of the world’s longest caves.

South Dakota has a rich paleontological history that includes the finding of one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever discovered and the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world, which are still being unearthed in the Black Hills. Hikers in Badlands National Park can periodically watch ongoing digs in what is considered one of the richest fossil beds in the United States.

Visitors can step back in time to the Wild West in Historic Deadwood. You can see where Wild Bill Hickok played his last hand of poker, visit the gravesites of Calamity Jane and other notable characters, and learn about the history of the gold rush in the area.

South Dakota is also abundant in water recreation. The Black Hills area is home to several lakes and streams, the Missouri River runs down the centre of the state, and north-eastern South Dakota is dotted with dozens of clear lakes. All of these bodies of water offer visitors the perfect opportunity for kayaking, fishing, boating and other water recreation.

South Dakota is home to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people, collectively known as the Great Sioux Nation. Several museums and cultural centres across the state depict the history and traditions of these nations as well as display ancient artefacts and modern artwork. Visitors may also experience this colourful culture at one of many powwows held across the state.

The early pioneers that conquered the prairies left a lasting legacy across South Dakota. Central South Dakota was the setting for the majority of the film, "Dances with Wolves," which won seven Academy Awards. In her book series, “Little House on the Prairie,” author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of her life growing up in the town of De Smet. Four of her six books were written about her family’s adventures on the prairies of South Dakota. You can tour her childhood homestead and see the places that inspired her classic books and a television series.

Whatever the adventure visitors are looking for, they will find a wide variety in South Dakota.

Home of the Perfect Road Trip
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Fun Fact

Watching a local rodeo in South Dakota
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The rodeo is South Dakota’s official state sport. Favorite events include the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo in Mitchell.

Thousands of motorcyclists gathered for South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
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South Dakota is home to the largest motorcycle gathering in the world, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which began in 1938 and now attracts more than 500,000 people each year.

Picking the ideal kuchen dessert at the Delmont Kuchen Festival
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Kuchen, which is the German word for cake, is the official state dessert of South Dakota. The coffee cake-like pastry is usually made with sweet dough and a fruit or custard filling.

Must see places

The faces of Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The faces of four U.S. presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – gaze over the Black Hills in southwestern South Dakota on a mountainside sculpture that took 14 years and $1 million to complete.

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A hike through the Badlands

Badlands National Park

Among the stunning sharp buttes and gradient rocks at the 98,700-hectare Badlands National Park are fossil beds 25 to 35 million years old. Today, plants and wildlife thrive nearby in a mixed-grass prairie.

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Buffalo stopping traffic in Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Stay at a lodge resort, explore mountain ranges, tour a log cabin, fish for trout and take a scenic drive at the 28,733-hectare park, where an abundance of wildlife includes a free-roaming herd of 1,300 bison.

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The Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead under a dramatic sky

Ingalls Homestead

Tour the childhood homestead of “Little House on the Prairie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder and see what inspired her to write a series of books about her family’s adventures and growing up in De Smet.

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A long view of historic Deadwood

Historic Deadwood

History comes alive during tours of the Wild West gold rush mountain town, where Calamity Jane is buried, and where Jack McCall gunned down Wild Bill Hickok in 1876 during a poker game in Saloon No. 10.

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Spearfish Canyon’s jagged streams

Spearfish Canyon

Take a leisurely 35-kilometer drive along Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, where the elevation changes nearly 610 meters from one end to the other. Stop along the way, maybe at Bridal Veil Falls, for breathtaking views.

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Constructing the Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial

Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse astride a steed is being sculpted into the side of a mountain in Custer County as a tribute to American Indians. The state is home to Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Sioux Indians.

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Selfie time at Roughlock Falls

Roughlock Falls

This waterfall located in the Black Hills derives from Spearfish Creek and ultimately cascades down a limestone ledge. This is the perfect spot to hike, fish or picnic as well as to go birding – the rare American Dipper (known for its ability to walk and swim under the water) can be found here.

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Boating on Lewis and Clark Lake

Lewis & Clark Recreation Area

Find out why Lewis and Clark Lake, a reservoir on the Missouri River, is one of the state park system’s most popular resorts. Amenities include campgrounds, cabins, marinas, fishing, skiing, hiking trails and sandy beaches.

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A family touring Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park

As you enter one of the longest underground caves in the world, listen for the whistle of escaping air. Above ground, the 13,700-hectare park teems with plants and animals, such as bison, elk and prairie dogs.

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A spectacular cliffside double waterfall
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