Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Visiting South Dakota on Your Next Road Trip
Picture high mountains and low prairies, big rivers, waterfalls, dark hills and clear streams, spruce forests, ridges, canyons, and caves. You’ll find they’re all bundled together in one rambling, rolling package called South Dakota.
In western South Dakota, in a setting of the Black Hills, Badlands, and blue lakes, Keystone’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a blend of history with nature. Rushmore stands tall and proud as a geologic tribute to America’s enduring strength and commitment to freedom. The 60-foot-high faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are immortalized on a granite mountainside in the heart of the Black Hills. These stunning images were produced by the solid determination and colossal efforts of sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and his Depression-era crew of 400 miners. Today’s visitors can walk among state banners on Avenue of the Flags where they’ll survey park sights from the museum rooftop’s Grand View Terrace. The Presidential Trail, a fully accessible footpath and boardwalk, provides the finest perspectives of the four monumental faces.
Custer State Park is also found in western South Dakota, just outside the town of the same name. This Black Hills park is unique, from the 7,000-foot high Harney Peak, you can hike to the banks of French Creek where Custer and company first encountered gold in the 1870s. Rock climbers, equestrians, and mountain bikers find their own brand of fun at Custer. Visitors can catch a big fish for supper or rustle up some tasty grub at the park’s Chuck Wagon Cookouts. Those who want to expand their horizons can board a Jeep tour in search of the park’s free-roaming buffalo herd. Guests who’d like to participate in Custer’s ranger-led activities attend gold-panning sessions, campfire meetings and outdoor cooking classes.
Another of South Dakota’s western area wonders is Badlands National Park. This territory includes Sioux Ghost Dance sites from the late 1800s and encompasses 244,000 acres of abrupt canyons, spires, spiked ledges and ravines that, through erosion, have been dramatically reformed into unearthly shapes, sizes and hues. Select areas of this otherworldly-looking preserve are co-managed by the National Park Service and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Along the Badlands’ grassy prairie, striped skunks, bighorn sheep, tundra swans, whooping cranes, and rare black-footed ferrets find a home range. Hikers can get better acquainted with the park by walking the Fossil Exhibit or Cliff Shelf Nature Trails. For their part, RV travelers take the side trip off Badlands Loop Road, a State Scenic Byway, to investigate Roberts Prairie Dog Town.
Near Yankton, in the southeastern region, eco-tourists enjoy natural perks at the Missouri River’s Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area. Here, water sports rule, with swimming, boating, fishing and water skiing all on the agenda. As one of South Dakota’s most visited recreation areas, this park boasts designated swimming and water skiing beaches with miles of sandy shores, a pool and marina plus ramps and launches for watercraft owners. Lewis and Clark’s landlubbers enjoy a good variety of hiking and horse paths, paved bike trails, an archery range and delightful picnic areas.
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South Dakota Campgrounds