Hello, and thank you for taking the time to explore what South Dakota has to offer ! Many residents and former residents of South Dakota affectionately refer to this state as “SoDak”. Our travel guide is divided into four sections, East River, West River, Missouri River, and the Black Hills/Badlands. Eastern South Dakota is the land found East of the Missouri River. Western South Dakota is the land West of the Missouri River. South Dakota was originally grouped with North Dakota in an area called Dakota Territory. On Nov 2nd 1889 the two split, and were admitted into the union as the 39th and 40th states. South Dakota is primarily a prairie ecosystem. The main indigenous vegetation in this biome is grass.When you travel to South Dakota the land is generally flat with few trees, because of these two factors, both farming and ranching drive the states economy. The soil is generally better on the east side of the state therefore more crop farming is done. East river also receives more annual precipitation. In the western South Dakota short grass prairie proves better for just raising livestock. South Dakota’s lifeblood is the Missouri River, cutting the state basically in half. Many people refer to the Missouri River as the “Muddy Mo”. The murky water is caused by prairie winds and river current constantly eroding the shoreline. The wind in South Dakota blows consistently. The geography in the southwest part of the state is more diverse. The Black Hills and Badlands provide relief from the massive grassland surrounding. The Black Hills have a more diverse economy. Tourists come from all over the world to explore this unique mountain range. There are many National Monuments and Parks in the Black Hills and Badlands. Diverse lakes and wetlands are found throughout South Dakota. Most are not natural or have been altered. Many migratory birds travel through and nest this great state. Evidence of ancient seas, glaciers, and prehistoric life has been found in South Dakota. Native Americans have lived and traveled South Dakota for hundreds if not thousands of years. Many generations of Native Americans and their relatives still reside here. The Native Americans in South Dakota hold seasonal Wacipis or “Pow Wow’s”. These unique events will give you a great perspective on Dakota Culture. One of the best depictions of early European settlers to this region is the Movie Dances with Wolves. Famous author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about here experiences on the prairie in South Dakota. The open spaces leave all plants and animals unprotected from wind gusts. During the creation of this content, the author was confronted with numerous storms, including tornadoes, ice storms, and massive blizzards. South Dakota has extreme weather ! Year after year, people get stranded for days sometimes without electricity. Make sure if you travel to South Dakota that you are prepared with contingencies Explore where to go in South Dakota & Be Safe.
Farming is the biggest economic power of Eastern South Dakota. With a low population density, the region does not have many cities. For more urban activities travel to Sioux Falls, SD. People on this side of the state rely primarily on outdoor recreation for adventure. Traveling the vast plains of Eastern South provide a unique experiences. This rich farming land is also a great place for hunting. Pheasants are the primary game in this zone. Whitetail deer are also wide spread and hunted regularly. Walleye, Northern Pike, and Largmouth Bass populate many of the lakes and rivers. Several National Wetlands and Grasslands have been established for wildlife. Yankton, SD is the main National Recreation Area in Eastern South Dakota. This park is found on the banks of the Missouri River. Other cultural attractions like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD or Storybook Island in Aberdeen are unique ideas if your passing through. Find more in depth information on the Eastern South Dakota travel guide main page on this website.
Ranching is a way of life here. The land is an open sea of short grass prairie and rolling hills. Historically Bison roamed the flats, grazing along side Pronghorn Antelope. There are no longer wild herds of buffalo here. Hunting deer and antelope can be a very exciting adventure. The land is beautiful and unrelenting. Communities are spread out and independent. Rapid City, SD and the Black Hills are the economic centers of Western South Dakota. There are few lakes in this area of the state, while few and far between many are picturesque ! Often times ranchers store water in man made reservoirs or dugouts. The banks of the Missouri river are to the east, the lifeblood of the watershed. Native Americans have a rich history in this area. The water in the Missouri created the Cheyenne River, White River, and other tributaries. Continue to the Western South Dakota Travel Guide on this website for more information.
The Missouri River is the Longest river in North America. Four Reservoirs are contained within the state of South Dakota’s Missouri River. They are Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case, and Lewis & Clark Lake. Hydroelectric Power Stations are used to harness the rivers water. Several regional economic hubs are located along the Missouri River. Usually where a bridge or dam has been built. The Missouri River watershed provides irrigation and utilities for many municipalities. The water helps farmers and ranchers throughout the state. The width of the river can be quite large, for this reason there are only a few highway or train crossings in the State. Pierre, SD South Dakota’s Capital, is found near the Oahe Dam. Other Communities like Morbridge and Chamberlain, SD are unique destinations. Travel here for great outdoor adventures. Many Native American Tribes have histories with the Missouri River. The watershed provided unique life to evolve far from it’s main channel. Trophy walleye fishing is possible. We have had many great excursions fishing catfish. Mule Deer, grouse, and pheasants are the most sought after game. There are many other sought after fish species and activities on the Missouri River in South Dakota. Go to Missouri River Guide Travel Guide for more info.
If you travel to South Dakota check out the Southwest corner of the state. This Region has the majority of recreational opportunities. The old earth of the Black Hills and Badlands is spiritual. For many generations of histories creations are stored here. Fossils and Rocks tell a great story of geological past. Culture here is rich and very unique. Black Hills Spruce and Ponderosa Pine dominate the small mountains. Places like Hill City, SD give visitors a great experience and thrive with lumber. The old time gold prospecting feel of a mountain town is not lost. Rapid City, SD is the economic hub. More urban activities and shopping are found in “Hay Town” aka Rapid City. Travel to Deadwood, SD for adult activities like Gambling. Rainbow Trout are the most sought after game fish. Although most of the populations do not naturally reproduce, the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks does stock lakes and streams regularly. Northern pike, Walleye, and Lake Trout can be found in select lakes through out the region. Streams like Rapid Creek and Spearfish Creek etched the rock, creating sheer cliffs and waterfalls. These waterways give life to the surrounding communities. Elk, deer, and other game are hunted in the Black Hills. Large animals like Mountain Lions do exist and should be taken seriously. The Black Hills Travel Guide main page on this website has more information.
There are nine reservations in South Dakota. The native communities have rich cultures and histories. Every reservation is unique, however similar in a lot of ways. The people live a more minimalist lifestyle. The communities have been separated and suppressed. There are few local shopping centers within each reservation in South Dakota. Some Tribal laws on the Reservations allow for Gambling and other Electronic Gaming. Other tribes have invested into wind power with large turbines.
South Dakota Travel Guide Resources
Notices and Disclosures.
southdakotatravelguide.info promotes conservation efforts. Please dispose of your waste appropriately and tread lightly. Many indigenous plants and animals of the niche ecosystems are being in danger of being destroyed. Please help raise awareness and care for this beautiful land. People in South Dakota are very sensible and generally very caring. If you have questions ask the locals respectfully, and you will get the best information. Make sure you have all proper licensing before entering private or permitted land. There are many Native American Tribes and Reservations in the State. Make sure you check with local regulations. You must be licensed and registered with the state to go hunting or fishing in South Dakota. You cannot claim ownership, authorship, or rights. All text, graphics, and links are potentially copyrighted. The information contained represents the views of the author on the date of publication. We do not claim affiliation with any Names, Places, or Organizations found within the site. We do not assume responsibility for errors, problems, or inaccurate information. The right is reserved to alter and update information at any time. This product is used for information purposes, the author does not accept any responsibility or liability from your interpretation of the content.