Many factors will impact your decisions when traveling to Eastern South Dakota. The Missouri River is the divide between eastern and western South Dakota. Eastern South Dakota has two other major watershed regions. The Glacial Lakes Region to the northeast, and the James River Valley through the center of the state. Do you like the outdoors? Fishing, Hunting, and Outdoor recreation are the dominate activities here. There are several urban centers that host some attractions. However, most of the population is spread out. Explore the Lakes in Eastern South Dakota, where shore and boat fishing is available. Farming is dominant in the culture of Eastern South Dakota. Grains like Corn, Wheat, and Soybeans are widespread. Pasture for livestock is also valuable. Cows, Sheep, and Pigs are all raised on farms in here. For this reason most communities have several farming supply stores. Tilling of the land on a massive scale has damaged the natural Ecosystems. There are several Invasive Species that have entered the soil and watershed of Eastern South Dakota. Chemical runoff from farms and industry is a real issue. A simple one time leak can have serious long term consequences. We must try to preserve the little natural prairie left. Impact from humans and livestock has had a negative impact on the ecosystem. There are four Native American Reservations located in Eastern South Dakota. The tribes are Crow Creek, Yankton, Flandreau, and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. East River has a rich history tied to both native peoples and European settlers.
Eastern South Dakota Major Attractions, Parks, or Recreation Areas
This area is located in the northeast corner of Eastern South Dakota. The mighty Minnesota River Starts it’s trek to the Mississippi from Big Stone Lake. Good walleye fishing, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities are available. Milbank and Sisseton, SD are the two major economic centers on this side of the Boarder. Travelers can also explore Wheaton and Ortonville, MN for amenities. The long slender lakes have miles of shoreline. Some excellent shore fishing is possible at select public locations.
Please click the link above to go to the Missouri River Page. There you will find more information for recreation and fishing. Pierre and communities on the Missouri River of South Dakota are found on that page.
Sica Hollow State Park is located in Northeast South Dakota near Sisseton ,SD. This is a very sacred place for many generations of Native Americans and Europeans. Superstition and lore give travelers a great experience when exploring. This area is one of the few exceptions to the wide spread prairie in the area. Larger deciduous plants are located here, like a tree island in a sea of grass. Camping is available as well as picnic areas. Hiking. Horseback Riding, and Birdwatching are a few recreational opportunities
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located north of Aberdeen, SD. This is a very large wetland in an ocean of prairie. This area is a designated area for wildlife to flourish with minimal interference. Cranes, Ducks, Geese, and Songbirds all travel through here. This is a great place for nature enthusiasts to take some great pictures. Sand Lake is one of the last more natural prairie settings in Eastern South Dakota. There are hiking trails found nearby.
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge is located near Webster, SD. In the heart of the Glacial Lakes region, Waubay is a little slice of awesome ! Migratory birds, large mammals, insects, plants, and fish all take refuge here. This is one of the few places in South Dakota that have received a serious conversational effort. The Waubay National Wildlife Refuge is not very big. This unique prairie lakes region does have some trees, and is constantly at battle with changing water levels. Seasonal flooding is common and fierce.
Eastern South Dakota Communities
Aberdeen, SD also known as the hub city, is located in Brown County north central South Dakota. As a regional economic center Aberdeen has grown much larger than other towns in the area. This community has most major accommodations include a mall, several motels, and Wylie Park. The mall although small has a couple major convenience stores and specialty shops. The mall is located in the East side of town on Highway 12, near the airport. There are several motels in in the area for lodging. The first super 8 was built in Aberdeen, SD in 1974. Wylie Park and Storybook Land are special to every South Dakota family that has traveled to Aberdeen. With a nice picnic area and Lake Wylie Park is a nice open space. Storybook land is a theme park for your family. The atmosphere is fun with nice walking trails. The major lakes in the region are Mina, Richmond, and Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge. With little water in the region commercial and farming runoff are a serious issue. The Moccasin Creek watershed has had several major ecological disturbances. Northern State University and Presentation Colleges are located in Aberdeen South Dakota.
Brookings, SD is located in East Central South Dakota. Interstate 29 passes through the city as well as highway 14. This community is most renown for the South Dakota State University. The College is the first in the state to go into Division 1 Sports. The university has also made great achievements in agricultural and livestock production. Almost every farmer in this region will be impacted by this school. There are department stores and local shops. The majority of the market is geared toward farmers and college students. Several motels, lodges, and restaurants are located in the area. Brookings County has few nice lakes with outdoor recreation. The bottom edge of the Glacial lakes region where water bodies are spread out and independent.
Huron, SD is located on highway 14 and is home to the South Dakota State Fairgrounds. When the fair comes to town the population of the county can multiply. Carnival rides and concerts are a big relief to the everyday grind that is East Central South Dakota. This community is all about farming. Almost every store is supplied for the regional needs. There is great pheasant hunting in the region. People travel here from all over the world to hunt the colorful roosters. There are a couple lakes in the area as well as the James River. You will find lodging and restaurants not found in other nearby communities. There is some shopping and a unique downtown. Huron is a great place to visit, however family attractions are limited.
Mitchell, SD is located on Interstate 90 in South Central South Dakota. This unique community hosts the Corn Palace. This events center has hosted many great sporting events and concerts. The exterior of the building is decorated with all types of real corn. The design is changed fairly frequently with many contributors. Some shopping is located in Mitchell including Cabelas Sporting Goods. Several restaurants and motels can be found here. There are a couple lakes in the county including Lake Mitchell, and the James River. Mitchell is a great place to spend a day or two, however does not host a lot of unique family activities.
Sioux Falls, SD is the largest economy in the State. The City is found at the junction of Interstate 29 and Interstate 90 in South Eastern South Dakota. With business friendly laws and taxes, this city has flourished with monetary growth. This is the only metropolitan population in the state to really expand into other communities. Dell Rapids, Harrisburg, and Brandon are slowing becoming developed into a mega city. Sioux Falls has the most shopping to offer in the region, as well as unique restaurants and attractions. The Empire Mall is found in central Sioux Falls just off I29. If your traveling here make sure to stop at the Great Plains Zoo. With unique displays and wildlife, the zoo is fun for the whole family. Wild Water West is a great experience for children and young adults. The water slides and park make for a fun experience on any summer vacation. There are many family parks in Sioux Falls. Falls Park is located in city limits. Visit this recreational area and experience the Sioux River Watershed. With great walking trails, beautiful small waterfalls and big rapids. There are a couple small lakes in the area. The Missouri River to the south hosts a wide range of outdoor recreation and activities.
Watertown, SD is located in Codington County at the junction of Highway 212 and Interstate 29. This economy in Eastern South Dakota has been growing steadily becoming a regional power. Located in the Glacial Lakes region of the state, Watertown receives a boost from outdoor enthusiasts. Hunting and Fishing are big business here. Farming is still the economic power horse. Most of the shopping here is limited. There is a a mall, department stores, and a few unique restaurants. The Bramble Park Zoo is a fun attraction for the kids. As the name imply s there are several lakes in Watertown. Lake Kampeska and Pelican Lake are big recreational destinations with fishing and boating. This area is a great place to experience the heart of South Dakota Culture.
Eastern South Dakota Native American Reservations
The Crow Creek Native American Reservation is located east river in central South Dakota. Crow Creeks lands extend into three counties Buffalo, Hughes, and Hyde. There is about 2,000 tribal members. The reservation sits between the state capitol Pierre to the north, and Interstate 90 and Chamberlain to the south. The major community on Crow Creek reservation is Fort Thompson. There are several convenience stores and a casino here. Outdoor activities include fishing and exploring the Missouri River. The Dam here separates lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case. The river is very sacred to these people giving life to the land for centuries.
Flandreau is the smallest of the 9 Native American Reservations in South Dakota. The reservation is Northeast of Sioux Falls, SD. Currently population of Flandreau, SD is aprox 2,300 people. The Royal River Casino hosts different venues and live music. Hunting is the primary outdoor activity in the area. This area has a deep culture. Pipestone, MN is located to the east. Pipestone, the rock itself, was valued by native people for many generations. Its unique qualities gave the people a great way to smoke.
Sisseton / Wahpeton
The Sisseton / Wahpeton reservation is located in extreme Northeast South Dakota. These people lived historically on the banks of Lake Traverse. The Glacial Lakes Region of the state is a sacred place. The reservation is located on sections of Marshall, Day, Codington, Roberts, and Grant Counties. There are several communities in this area including Sisseton, SD. The town does provide simple amenities and shops. Fargo, ND is north of the Sisseton Reservation on Interstate 29. Farming and ranching are the primary economic drivers in the region. There are some good lakes with fishing. Pheasant and Deer hunting are also popular with the locals. Make sure to have permission before entering private or protected land.
Yankton Native American Reservation is located on the west bank of the Missouri River. Charles Mix County has an estimated 6,500 residents. The primary community on the Yankton Reservation is Wagner, SD. This unique town has a few conveniences and recreation areas. The North Point and South Point Recreation areas are located at the Lake Francis Case Dam. There is good fishing and sight seeing.