National Parks in South Dakota

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Badlands National Park

Standing proudly in the prairies of western South Dakota, Badlands National Park is a place of natural beauty and spirituality. The park boasts a stunning landscape, beautiful sceneries, eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. Badlands Park sees a lot of visitors from around the world, especially in June, July, and August. However, for less crowd and cooler temperature, late August and September is the best time to visit this park.

This 242,000-acre park has the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the country and is a must-see site filled with painted canyons. Some of the best ways to experience your trip here include viewing the roadside attractions, staying in a campground and hiking, and taking enchanting pictures in the golden hours of dawn or dusk.

Jewel Cave National Monument

South Dakota boasts many geologic attractions and one of them is the Jewel Cave which is the third-largest cave in the world. This site was named a national monument in 1908 and has mapped passageways that extend to over 200 miles in length.

Jewel Cave National Monument is open to visitors all year and offers three types of guided tours: the scenic tour, the historic tour, and the wild caving tour.

Visitors can also enjoy a stroll along the park’s trails and learn more about the cave at the Visitors Center.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Lewis & Clark is a recreation area and a popular resort in Southeastern South Dakota. It’s located on the northern shore of the Lewis and Clark River and extends from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania to the mouth of the Columbia River.

This national site offers 3 campgrounds known as the Yankton section, Midway Section, and the Gavins Point Section. Activities you can engage in here include picnicking, camping, shoe snowing,  archery, disc golf, hiking, biking, horseback ride, and of course trailing along the several nature trails. Visitors can also enjoy sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball.

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Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

This park is one of the historic sites in South Dakota and a great attraction for history enthusiasts. Established in 1999, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site aimed to tell the story and significance of the cold war in American history. The site represents the remaining intact components that are left of the country’s nuclear missile field. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site offers visitors the opportunity to tour the missile/silo launch facility and the launch control center. Meanwhile, it’s important to book reservations before you can visit this site.

Missouri National Recreational River

Managed by the US National Park Service, the Missouri National Recreational River is shared with Nebraska. This site preserves the two free-flowing sections of the Missouri River that have not been channelized or installed with a dam.

Experience Missouri National Park by exploring the wild untamed river that flows freely as nature intended. Other things you could do here include crossing the bridge to walk the historic Meridian Bridge or visiting the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery. Visitors can also plan their trip by visiting the Visitors’ center, learn recommendations on what to do and where to go, and pick up maps. This park has 3 visitor centers; Niobrara State Park, Ponca State Park, and the Lewis & Clark Visitors’ Center.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Operated as a national memorial, Mount Rushmore is one of the most recognized and visited national parks in Black Hills, South Dakota. This national memorial is also known as the ‘Shrine of Democracy’ as it commemorates the founding fathers of America and reflects the development of democracy in the country.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial draws more than 2 million visitors a year and features 60-foot portraits of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. This spectacular site also boasts other, enormous carving and other attraction sites including a Sculpture studio and an interpretive trail. You can bring your pets but they are only allowed in the parking garages and areas adjacent to them.

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Wind Cave National Park

Boasting forested hills, an impressive passageway, and fun activities options, Wind Cave National Park stands in the Black Hills National Forest, south of Cluster State Park. It’s one of the national parks established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and was the first time a cave system would be named a national park.

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