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Palisades State Park, South Dakota

 Palisades State Park, South Dakota

At only 157 acres, Palisades State Park in Garretson, South Dakota is the second smallest state park in the system.  However, most visitors to this park consider Palisades the second best state park in the state, only overshadowed by world famous Custer State Park in the Black Hills.  Located only 10 miles off of Interstate 90 outside of Sioux Falls, Palisades is an outstanding diversion if traveling through the state, or a wonderful destination for a weekend of fun and folklore in both Palisades State Park and nearby Garretson, South Dakota.

 Palisades State Park, South Dakota, Summary

  25495 485th Avenue, Garretson, South Dakota  57030
Phone:  (605) 594-3824
E-Mail:  palisades@gfp.state.sd.us
157 acres
Season:  Year round, reduced hours during the winter months
Camping:  Yes, 36 sites, some with electric, modern facilities
Hiking:  Three trails, all easy, ranging from 1/4 mile to 3-1/2 miles
Access Fee:  Yes, 1999 state access fee, $10
Special Activities:  Rock climbing bonanza, spectacular views in relatively flat lands of eastern South Dakota


 Palisades State Park, Rock Climbing Mecca of Eastern South Dakota

 King and Queen Rock, Palisades State Park, South Dakota, United States, Copyright 1999 OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights Reserved
The big draw to Palisades State Park is it's quartzite rock cliffs.  This extremely hard stone is prized as high quality aggregate and is used in the making of concrete.  The stone is estimated to be 1.2 billion years old and gets has a pink hue.  The cliffs and spires, most over 50 feet tower over Split Rock Creek that cuts through the heart of the park.  These rock spires and cliffs draws rock climbing enthusiasts for hundreds of miles to test and hone their skills.  King and Queen Rock, pictured above is extremely popular with most visitors.

Rockclimbers, Palisades State Park, South Dakota, United States, Copyright 1999 OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedFrom a north view, it's intimidating spires climb over fifty feet almost straight up out of Split Rock Creek.  Take the short 1/4 mile hiking trail to King and Queen Rock on the south side of Split Rock Creek and you will find that a series of natural stairs allows you to easily climb to the top.  Many visitors like to have someone snap a shot of them standing on top of King and Queen Rock, with the viewer of the photograph none the wiser of the ease getting to the top.  If you plan to climb King and Queen Rock a very healthy respect of heights and some climbing skill is required.

If you plan to rock climb at Palisades State Park, be aware that no permanent fixtures are allowed on the Quartzite cliffs.  Due to the large number of climbers, the parks beauty would be damaged very quickly over a short period of time.  Further, most will find it extremely difficult attaching fixtures to the extremely hard stone.  No additional permits are required to climb at the park, and naturally climbing is completely at your own risk.

 Palisades State Park, Paddling

Split Rock Creek runs right through the heart of Palisades State Park.  The park offers a number of access points for canoes or kayaks.  Depending on the time of the year, Split Rock Creek can be a shallow Class I trickle with the western section of the creek being almost impassible (remember quartzite is very hard and will do a number on any canoe or kayak material).  Other times of the year, especially in spring, it can be a strong Class III torrent.  Any runs within the park are very short, and the creek both west and east of the park passes through privately owned land with restricted access.  At almost any time of the year, canoes and kayaks can be found on the waters in Palisades State Park.