Western South Dakota, West River, is the land west of the Missouri River. The short grass prairie ecosystem does not receive a large amount of annual precipitation. The watershed is filled by runoff from the Missouri River and the Black Hills. Most of the water in this area is stored for communities and ranchers to use. Five Native American Reservations are found in Western South Dakota. The Cheyenne River, White River, and other Tributaries of the Missouri River and Black Hills are very sacred places. The Culture in this area is unique and rich. A cowboy lifestyle is strong and widespread in Western South Dakota. The Native American Tribes that have historically occupied this region still thrive today. Smaller, more self sufficient communities are scattered across the landscape. The prairie and hills of Western South Dakota are also know for their prehistoric finds. Large dinosaur fossils including “Sue the T-Rex” were found in this area. Smaller animal fossils and plants have also been found. Outdoor Recreational, hunting, and exploring are the most prevalent activities. The Best fishing is found on the Missouri River. Pronghorn Antelope, Deer, and Grouse can all be found here. Hunting is a right of passage, a necessity for many of the ranchers and Native Americans in the area. The large Buffalo population that once roamed free are replaced by herds trapped by fences. However desolate, mans impact has left little natural prairie. There are a few National Grasslands and Preserves. Prairie Rattlesnakes can be found in Eastern South Dakota, however are more widespread in Western South Dakota. Outside of the Black Hills there are no real urban centers with a lot of amenities. Make sure to have plenty of supplies and fuel.
Western South Dakota Major Attractions, Parks, or Recreation Areas
Click The Link above to explore our Guide for the Black Hills and Badlands in South Dakota. This Region is located in the South Western Section of South Dakota. The majority of Family Recreational opportunities West River are found here.
The Fort Pierre National Grassland is located south of Fort Pierre, SD on Highway 83. There are a few amenities and designated areas. This area was preserved because of it’s natural prairie. Native plants and grass can grow here without large disturbances. Many animals call this place home including Prairie Dogs. Protected Black Footed ferrets are also found here. Fort Pierre National Grassland is a great place to visit for the day and explore nature.
Grand River National Grassland and Shadehill Reservoir are located in Northwestern South Dakota. Nearby Standing Rock Reservation has deep ties with the Grand River area. This unique short grass prairie habitat is being preserved for future generations . Shadehill Reservoir provides nice relief to the sea of grass and flat land. Nice walleye and other game fish have been known to be found in the lake. Make sure to check out the designated recreation areas. There are a few amenities and facilities. Recreation includes; camping, swimming, and boating. Make sure to check out Grand River National Grassland and the Shadehill Reservoir on you next vacation to Western South Dakota.
Click The Link above to explore our Guide for the Missouri River in South Dakota. Great walleye fishing is consistently reported in it’s reservoirs.
Western South Dakota Communities
The Cheyenne River Native American Reservation is located on Highway 212 west of the Missouri River. The tribe historically was tied to the land especially the Missouri River and its tributaries. The 2010 census showed a combined population of 8,090 people in Dewey and Ziebach counties. Buffalo is a very sacred animal to these people, and is raised on ranches here. The main community in the area is Eagle Butte, SD. There are a few amenities and motels. Seasonally there are festivals including the Black Foot Toe Jam on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Make sure to explore this area in Western South Dakota, and receive a different perspective on native culture.
The Lower Brule Native American Reservation is located in West Central South Dakota north Of Chamberlain / Oacoma, SD and Interstate 90. A smaller reservation, Lower Brule has approximately 3,400 members. Across the Missouri River is Crow Creek reservation and Fort Thompson, SD. The native history is rich here with culture. There are no major stores or amenities. Just the basics for the Native Peoples. The majority of activities found in this region are associated with Lake Francis Case. Good boat access and walleye fishing are available. There are a couple of casinos on Tribal Land.
The Pine Ridge Oglala Native American Reservation is Located on Southwestern South Dakota. The population is over 16,000 people. Pine Ridge reservation is in Shannon, Jackson, and Bennett Counties. Badlands National Park, and Buffalo Gap National Grassland, is located near the reservation and is co-managed by the tribe. Historically one of the most controversial places in the state, the pine ridge people have suffered terribly. The Massacre at Wounded Knee will always be a part of our history. Many people here live in poverty and depression. The loss of the peoples land and freedom to European settlers may never be forgotten. The main communities in the area are Pine Ridge and Oglala, SD. Other attractions include Prairie Wind Casino located on the Pine Ridge reservation. The Badlands Bombing range is also a link to our history, and the exploitation of the nations native people. Western South Dakota culture is rich with native history.
Rosebud Native American Reservation is located in Southeastern South Dakota. According to the 2010 Cencus 9,050 people live here. Rosebud encompasses all of Todd County and also has a big presence in Tripp, Mellette, Lyman, and Gregory Counties. The White River and Lacreek watersheds are very sacred areas to the people. The Main Communities in the region are Winner, White River, and Mission, SD. There are not a lot of amenities or organized activities for travelers. Every year the people on the Rose Bud Native American Reservation hold unique a “wacipi” or pow wow. Travel to Rosebud if you want to experience life on a prairie reservation. This area has wide open spaces, few trees, and unique culture.
Standing Rock Native American Reservation is Located in Northwest South Dakota. The population in Corson, SD and Sioux County, ND is 8,217 according to the 2010 Census. McLaughlin, Mcintosh and Timber Lake,SD are the main communities here. These people historically survived similarly to the Cheyenne River community. The Missouri River and it’s watershed provided landmarks and substance for the plants and animals of the region. The Grand River Casino is located on the Standing Rock Reservation.
Wall Drug, SD is located in Western South Dakota about an hour east of Rapid City. According to the 2010 census, 766 people reside here. If it is not the most popular, the town is definitely the best advertised community on this side of the state. Beginning in the early 20th century, Wall Drug posted road signs for lodging, food, and souvenirs to travelers along Interstate 90. The long desolate trip from the east, and west, made almost certain people would stop to rest. Today the town provides great Western South Dakota culture with many tourist activities. Make sure to check the shops for deals on Black Hills Gold and gear.