Vast, sparsely populated and home to rolling prairies, South Dakota features the dramatic Black Hills National Forest, and towering granite peaks from which the historical monument of Mt. Rushmore is carved. The state is also home to the Crazy Horse Memorial, a wealth of state parks, recreational areas and scenic byways that provide plenty of outdoor activities and wildlife-watching opportunities.

1.Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park
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Badlands National Park is a national park that is renowned for its dramatic rock formations, towering spires, steep canyons, and sprawling grasslands teeming with bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs. Located in southwestern South Dakota, the 242,756-acre park features several attractions including the Fossil Exhibit Trail, a boardwalk displaying fossils uncovered in the park; the Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240), which winds past numerous scenic lookouts; and interesting hiking trails near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The Badlands National Park protects 64,144 acres of designated wilderness area which is home to the black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered mammals in the world. The park also administers the nearby Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

25216 Ben Reifel Road, Interior, SD 57750, Phone: 605-433-5361

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2.Bear Butte State Park

Bear Butte State Park
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Located six miles northeast of Sturgis, Bear Butte State Park is a state park named after Bear Butte, which is also known as Mato Paha or Bear Mountain and is thought to be a sacred mountain. Formed millions of years ago, the 4,426-foot peak is one of several intrusions of igneous rock in the Black Hills where visitors can see all four surrounding states from the summit. The trees have small bundles, small pouches and colorful pieces of cloth hanging from the trees that were placed there by individuals worshipping on the sacred mountain. The Bear Butte Education Center in the park boasts several displays highlighting the mountain’s history, geology, and cultural beliefs of the Northern Plains Indians. Activities in the park include hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

20250 Hwy 79, Sturgis, SD 57785, Phone: 605-347-5240

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3.Beaver Creek State Nature Area

Beaver Creek State Nature Area
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Beaver Creek State Natural Area is a nature area and state park near Ona Beach State Park in Lincoln County and is part of Brian Booth State Park. Located a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the park is centered around the paddling Beaver Creek, which meanders through wide and flat bends and is home to a wealth of bird and wildlife, including beaver, river otter, heron, and osprey. The creek is surrounded by wildlife-filled riparian habitat, and the slow, meandering flat water is ideal for a family-friendly adventure of canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding. Beaver Creek State Natural Area serves as a vital part of the Beaver Creek watershed, connecting marsh habitats and coastal areas with ancient, old-growth forests. A Welcome Center offers information about the wildlife in the area, and guided kayak tours.

48351 264th Street, Valley Springs, SD 57068, Phone: 605-594-3824

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4.Custer State Park

Custer State Park
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Tucked away in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, Custer State Park is a state park and wildlife reserve named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. South Dakota's largest and first state park, Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres of spectacular terrain is one of the last remaining wild sanctuaries in the country where buffalo roam freely. Custer State Park is packed with fantastic recreational activities from hiking to hay wagon riding. Hit one of the many trails on foot, horseback or mountain bike and soak up the natural beauty of the area. Buffalo Jeep Safaris travel through the park in open-air jeeps in search of buffalo, elk, and pronghorns and can be combined with a Chuck Wagon Cookout at the end of the safari.

25453 SD-87, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-255-4531

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5.Fort Sisseton State Park

Fort Sisseton State Park
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Fort Sisseton State Park is a picturesque state park centered around Fort Sisseton, a historic fort named after the nearby Sisseton Indian Tribe. Resting atop the Coteau des Prairies, the 1864 fort was originally a frontier army outpost called Fort Wadsworth and features stone barracks, officers' quarters, a guard house, a powder magazine, and other buildings. A Visitor Center features interpretive displays, guided tours, and a gift shop, and facilities in the park include a boat ramp, campground, camping cabins, canoe, and kayak rentals, and event tent rentals. Activities in the park include boating, birdwatching, camping, canoeing and kayaking, hiking, fishing, and snowshoeing.

11907 434th Avenue, Lake City, SD 57247, Phone: 605-448-5474

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6.Hartford Beach State Park

Hartford Beach State Park

Hartford Beach State Park is a beautiful state park and natural recreation area that surrounds Big Stone Lake. The lake is a section of the River Warren, which was created by water from melting glaciers around 10,000 years ago and today, provides an idyllic setting with a wooded forest for picnicking and camping. Big Stone Lake features scenic timbered shorelines, rugged rock-strewn bluffs, and Hartford Beach, after which the park is named. Activities in the park include water-based sports on the lake, such as swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, and land-based fun such as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and volleyball.

13672 Hartford Beach Rd, Corona, SD 57227, Phone: 605-432-6374

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7.Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument
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Jewel Cave National Monument is home to Jewel Cave, the third longest cave in the world with over 200 miles of mapped passageways. Located 13 miles west of the town of Custer in the Black Hills, the caves are filled with calcite crystals, draperies, box work, frostwork, flowstone, hydro-magnesite balloons, stalactites, and stalagmites. Open all year round, and visitors can enjoy three different tours of the cave system, namely a scenic tour, a historical tour, and wild caving tour. The scenic tour is a half-mile loop through a paved and lighted central portion of the cave; the historic tour explores the earliest-discovered part of the cave, and the wild caving tour delves into an undeveloped part of the cave.

11149 US-16 B-12, Custer, SD 57730, Phone: 605-355-3700

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8.Lake Cochrane State Recreation Area

Lake Cochrane State Recreation Area
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Nestled between Lake Cochrane and Lake Oliver, Lake Cochrane State Recreation Area is an 88-acre area which provides a wealth of outdoor recreational activities, including camping, boating, fishing, and kayaking. Named for the first homesteader in the area, Byron J. Cochrane, who built his home on the south side of the lake in 1872, Lake Cochrane State Recreation Area has several facilities including a boat ramp, a campground, camping cabins, picnic shelters, and toilets. Activities in the park range from boating, fishing, sunbathing and swimming to basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, and golf.

3454 Edgewater Dr, Gary, SD 57237, Phone: 605-882-5200

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9.Lake Herman State Park

Lake Herman State Park
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Lake Herman State Park is a state park in Lake County that surrounds the 1,350-acre glacial Lake Herman, which is open for year-round recreation including boating, camping, picnicking, and swimming. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and camping at 72 campsites with electric hook-ups or two overnight cabins, along with disc golf, horseshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The park features rolling prairie grasslands and native oak woodlands which teem with birds and wildlife and make for excellent bird and wildlife watching.

23409 State Park Dr, Madison, SD 57042, Phone: 605-256-5003

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10.Lewis & Clark State Recreation

Lewis & Clark State Recreation
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Lewis and Clark Recreation Area is a popular resort park in southeastern South Dakota near Yankton. Located on the northern shore of the 31,400-acre Lewis and Clark Lake, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area features three separate campgrounds called the Yankton Section, Midway Section, and the Gavins Point Section, all of which are set along the shores of the lake. Facilities in the park include day picnicking, overnight camping, marinas, and boat launching ramps, an archery range, and a disc golf course, and activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and several nature trails. Other activities include archery, basketball, canoeing, kayaking, disc golf, horseshoes, snowshoeing, soccer, and volleyball.

43349 SD-52, Yankton, SD 57078, Phone: 605-668-2985

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11.Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
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Minuteman Missile National Historic Site preserves the last remaining Minuteman II ICBM system in the country. Established in 1999 to celebrate intercontinental ballistic missile development and honor the arms race, and the significance of the Cold War, the site represents the only remaining intact components of a nuclear missile field. The site features a visitor center that offers guided tours of the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility. Visitors can also explore the Delta-09 missile silo on guided tours, and learn more about the Cold War, which was the defining historical event of the last half of the 20th century.

24545 CottonWood Road, Philip, SD 57567, Phone: 605-433-5552

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12.Missouri National Recreational River

Missouri National Recreational River
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Located on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota, Missouri National Recreational River preserves two free-flowing stretches of a 100-mile span of North America's longest river. Established under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 and managed by the National Park Service, the river is a vestige of the untamed American West and flows through the counties of Boyd, Cedar, Dixon, and Knox. The park features three visitor centers at the Niobrara State Park, the Ponca State Park, and the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center at Gavins Point Dam.

508 East 2nd Street, Yankton, SD 57078, Phone: 605-665-0209

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13.Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
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Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a famous site that is centered around the world-renowned sculpture of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone. Carved by Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln and completed in 1941, the 60-foot-high granite sculpture represents birth, the growth, the development, and the preservation of the United States. The 1,278.45-acre park features a museum with interactive exhibits telling the story of the sculpture and attracts more than two million visitors annually.

13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751, Phone: 605-574-2523

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14.Newton Hills State Park

Newton Hills State Park
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Newton Hills State Park is a 1,063-acre state park in Lincoln County that rests at an elevation of 1,309 feet and is open for year-round outdoor recreation including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping. Named after 1850 settler William Newton, Newton Hills State Park features spectacular natural landscapes that include dense forests and rolling hills, vast open prairies, and the geological formation of the Coteau des Prairie. Facilities in the park include a campground with tented sites and overnight cabins, boat ramps, fishing docks, horse camps, bicycle rentals, event tent rentals, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and paddleboard rentals. Activities range from boating, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, cross-country skiing, bird-watching, and cross-country skiing.

28767 482nd Ave, Canton, SD 57013, Phone: 605-987-2263

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15.North Point State Recreation Area

North Point State Recreation Area
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Located on the shores of the Missouri River just above Fort Randall Dam, North Point Recreation Area is a state park and natural sanctuary that is famous for being visited by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. The beautiful park offers an array of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, camping, boating, canoeing and kayaking, photography and fishing. Facilities include barbecue grills, a marina with boat ramps, comfort and dump stations, equipment rentals, restrooms with showers and toiletries, and drinking water.

8400 North Point Rd, Edgemere, MD 21219, Phone: 605-487-7272

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16.Oakwood Lakes State Park

Oakwood Lakes State Park
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Oakwood Lakes State Park is a pristine park surrounded by eight connecting glacial lakes northwest of Brookings that provides a wealth of activities throughout the year. Featuring several shaded campgrounds with 136 campsites and six overnight cabins, the park offers recreational pursuits such as hiking, mountain biking, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing, as well as fishing, boating, swimming on Johnson Lake and Lake Tetonkaha. The park also has camping facilities for horseback riders and wranglers, and a disc golf course, as well as equipment rentals for canoes, kayaks, fishing and snowshoeing.

20247 S Oakwood Shoreline Dr, Bruce, SD 57220, Phone: 605-627-5441

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17.Palisades State Park

Palisades State Park
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Palisade State Park is located just outside the small town of Sterling in Utah is features the spectacular Split Rock Creek, which is lined with striking Sioux quartzite formations and shelves, and breathtaking 50-foot cliffs. Estimated to be around 1.2 billion years old, the Sioux quartzite spires attract climbers to the park to test their rappelling and scaling skills on the cliffs and formations, as well as other outdoor enthusiasts who flock to the park to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, camping, non-motorized boating, fishing, and swimming. Other activities in the park include picnicking, photography, bird-watching, canoeing and kayaking and snowshoeing in the winter.

2200 E Palisade Rd, Sterling, UT 84665, Phone: 435-835-7275

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18.Pease Creek State Recreation Area

Pease Creek State Recreation Area
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Pease Creek State Recreation Area boasts 600 acres of beautiful natural landscapes to explore, including the Missouri River's Lake Francis Case, which provides excellent fishing. The preserve features scenic natural landscapes and wooded terrain in which there are several shaded campsites, along with towering bluffs above Lake Francis Case with numerous hiking trails boasting breathtaking views. Facilities in the recreational area include campgrounds with electric campsites, boat ramps, fishing docks, restrooms with flushing toilets and drinking water, dump and fish cleaning stations, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, and camping.

293rd St, Geddes, SD 57342, Phone: 605-487-7046

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19.Pelican Lake State Recreation Area

Pelican Lake State Recreation Area
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Pelican Lake State Recreation Area is an area of outstanding beauty that offers a wealth of recreational activities for the whole family. Located seven miles southwest of Watertown, the tranquil Pelican Lake features shady areas with picnic sites, a sandy beach for sunbathing and swimming, prairie trails and a boat dock. Water-based activities include swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and water-skiing, and over five miles of prairie trails hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers. Campsites have camping pads with electricity and water hook-ups, as well as overnight cabins, and the park is located in a prime pheasant hunting area. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating, and snowmobiling. Other facilities include an archery range, basketball courts, horseshoes, canoe and kayak rentals, and soccer pitches.

17450 450th Avenue, Watertown, SD 57201, Phone: 605-882-5200

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20.Randall Creek State Recreation Area

Randall Creek State Recreation Area
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Randall Creek Recreation Area is a state recreation area set along the banks of the Missouri River just below the Fort Randall Dam in Gregory County. Spanning 184 acres downstream from the Fort Randall Dam, which was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the mid-1900s, the area is home to a wealth of bird and wildlife, including the majestic bald eagle. The area where the eagles roost is a designated National Natural Landmark, and motorized traffic in the areas with winter bald eagle roosts is prohibited. The lake also attracts an array of waterfowl and other bird species, which make for excellent bird-watching, and other activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and nature walks.

Pickstown, SD 57367, Phone: 605-487-7046

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21.Sica Hollow State Park

Sica Hollow State Park
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Sica Hollow State Park, also known as Sieche Hollow State Park, is a recreation area that was named for the iron-red tinted water that is found in the area, which local tribes saw as blood. Named ‘sica’ (meaning evil or bad) by local tribes, the park has several gurgling reddish bogs, which Indians saw as the blood and flesh of their ancestors. The park also features several attractions such as the designated National Natural Landmarks of Old River Warren and Coteau des Prairies, and the self-guided interpretive foot trail called as Trail of the Spirits. Over eight miles of marked trails offer excellent hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding through 900 acres of woodland, rolling fields of wildflowers, streams, waterfalls, and rustic bridges. Activities in the park include birdwatching, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and horse camping.

44950 Park Road, Sisseton, SD 57260, Phone: 605-448-5701

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22.Snake Creek Recreation Area

Snake Creek Recreation Area
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Snake Creek Recreation Area is an area of natural beauty that surrounded Lake Francis Case and offers a variety of outdoor activities on both land and water. Boasting breathtaking scenic beauty along the Missouri River, the area has a rich history with the Lewis and Clark expedition traveling through in the 1800s. The lake offers excellent boating, fishing, and kayaking, and the surrounding shoreline has several hiking and mountain trails with panoramic river and lake views. Other amenities and activities in the park include boat ramps, campgrounds, overnight camping cabins, several beaches, fish cleaning stations, equipment rentals, picnic shelters, and playgrounds. Activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, camping, basketball, horseshoes, pleasure boating, canoeing, kayaking, and volleyball.

35316 SD Hwy 44, Platte, SD 57369, Phone: 605-337-2587

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23.Spirit Mound State Historic Prairie

Spirit Mound State Historic Prairie
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Spirit Mound State Historic Prairie is a historic area located 6.5 miles north of Vermillion that features a prominent hill on the Great Plains that Plains Indian tribes once thought of as the home of dangerous spirits. Established in 2002, the park has a trail leading to the summit of Spirit Mound, which is a designated National Recreation Trail and visitors can climb to the top of the hill that was once climbed by members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in early 1800. Activities in the park include hiking, and picnicking and facilities include drinking water and vault toilets.

31148 SD-19, Vermillion, SD 57069, Phone: 605-987-2263

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24.West Bend State Recreation Area

West Bend State Recreation Area
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West Bend Recreation Area is a State Recreation Area located along the shore of Lake Sharpe in Hughes County that is open for year-round recreation including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and cross-country skiing. The Missouri River Reservoir of Lake Sharpe offers an array of activities, ranging from pleasure boating, swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, while the scenic shoreline and surrounding landscapes in the park offer excellent hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, along with RV and tent camping with electricity and water hook-ups. The area was visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in early 1800 and offers a rich history to explore.

22154 Westbend Rd, Harrold, SD 57536, Phone: 605-773-2885

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25.Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park
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Located in the southwestern corner of South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park is set around the vast, underground Wind Cave, with famous chambers like the Elks Room and the Post Office. The caves are renowned for their striking calcite formations such as honeycomb-shaped calcite formations known as box work, with approximately 95 percent of the world's discovered boxwork formations found in the Wind Cave system. One of the longest caves in the world, measuring just under 150 miles long, Wind Cave is also the densest cave system in the world, with the greatest passage volume per cubic mile. Above ground, the park also features the largest remaining area of natural mixed-grass prairie in the country and is home to bison, elk and pronghorn antelopes.

South Dakota, Phone: 605-745-4600

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25 South Dakota State & National Parks