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South Dakota Guide

South Dakota Guide - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 South Dakota - Copyright 1999 - 2000, OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights Reserved
South Dakota is located in the great plains region in the heart of the United States.  At 75,898 square miles it is the 16th largest state.  Despite the flat land visions that appear in most minds, South Dakota has a very diverse topography.  Rolling hills and the Coteau des Prairies, a unique geological formation found only in the central plains and in China on the Yellow River, gives way to the rolling plains that stretch out across the heart of the state.  Plains give way again to the Black Hills, a mountain chain in the western part of the state where Harney Peak, at 7,242 feet reigns as the highest point in South Dakota and the Black Hills are the tallest mountains east of the Rockies.

Cutting through the heart of the state is the fertile Missouri River valley which runs on the path that Lewis & Clark took on their western expedition, almost 200 years ago.  With only 734,000 people, almost half which live in the southeastern corner of the state, South Dakota is one of the most sparsely populated states in the country.  It's no wonder that South Dakota has 2,236,779 acres of state, national, national forest, and national grassland within it's boundaries.  And this figure does not include the 2.4 million acre Custer National Forest that spans three states, including South Dakota!

South Dakota also creates visions of extreme weather.  Winters of legendary proportion have been chronicled by such famous writers as Laura Ingalls Wilder who grew up in the heart of the state and survived the winter of 1881, historically one of the worst the state has ever seen.  Part of the state is located in tornado alley, prone to severe weather.  Despite these extremes, South Dakota enjoys more than it's fair share of pleasant weather, with the Black Hills in the west having more moderate weather than the flat and open eastern part of the state.  Cold dry winters give way to tepid wet springs and pleasant dry, summers and fall.  Temperatures in the winter on average will fall into the low teens, and in the summer will run in the 80'ies.

South Dakota has two major metropolitan areas and three other moderately sized cities.  Sioux Falls is the largest city, boasting almost 1/6 of the state's population in the southeastern part of the state.  Rapid City, located on the opposite side just a short distance from the Wyoming border is located in the heart of the Black Hills, and is probably the most famous South Dakota city.  Pierre, the state capital is located in the heart of the state and is not serviced by an interstate or major airport.  Brookings and Watertown, both in the eastern part of the state span north of Sioux Falls and are located on Interstate 29.  South Dakota is only moderately served by the US Interstate highway system.  Interstate 29 runs south to north on the eastern side of the state passing through Sioux Falls, Brookings, and Watertown.  Interstate 90 runs west to east in the southern part of the state passing through Sioux Falls and Rapid City.  The northwestern and north central sections of South Dakota are remote, without any major interstate, or US highway access.

Click for Brookings, South Dakota Forecast

Click for Pierre, South Dakota Forecast

Click for Rapid City, South Dakota Forecast

Click for Sioux Falls, South Dakota ForecastSouth Dakota is one of the United States' best locations for outdoor activity.  3,472 campsites in state and national facilities, thousands of miles of hiking trails, hundreds of miles of canoe trails, including the fast moving and challenging Missouri River, rock climbing in both the eastern and western part of the state, as well as hundreds of miles of equestrian trails.  Even more remarkable, the state maintains 46 separate facilities, with heavy concentrations in the eastern third and southwestern corner, including the 73,000 acre world famous Custer State Park, which rivals some National Parks in activities and beauty.  Former US President Calvin Coolidge was so entranced with Custer State Park, he spent the entire summer there in 1927 and summoned his staff to join him where he ran the country at the State Game Lodge.

In the colder months when the snow begins to fly a whole new world of activity awaits.  Skiing in both the Black Hills and outside of Sioux Falls are available.  Cross country skiing is available throughout almost the entire state as is snow shoeing.  Skimobiling is a popular winter sport when the snow allows.  Most state parks and National Forest facilities have provisions for a variety of winter time activity.

With 46 state parks, nature preserves, and recreation areas, four national parks, and six national forest/national grassland facilities in it's boundaries, South Dakota is an incredible destination for almost any outdoor activity.

Links and Books for South Dakota - OutdoorPlaces.Com

You have only entered a small doorway into a much larger world.  A wide variety of information on South Dakota abounds.  Links are broken up into seven different categories below.

Traveling In South Dakota provides you with information on major air carrier service, highway rules and regulations, trailering rules and regulations, and road conditions. 

Outdoors Guide provides you with an interactive clickable map of South Dakota highlighting all 46 state parks, four national parks and all six national forests/national grasslands.  Summary information on each park too!  (large page)

South Dakota White Pages is a listing of important phone numbers for planning your next trip to South Dakota. 

Travel & Tourism Web Links is a listing of websites that can aid you in planning your next trip to South Dakota. 

Ask Us About South Dakota.  Can't find what your looking for anywhere?  Ask us!  We may not be able to tell you who the governor was in 1884, but we sure can tell you about some great campsites or things to see. 

Of course OutdoorPlaces.Com has a number of guides and informative stories to help you on your journey.  Below are a number of featured stories to help you when you enjoy the great outdoors.  You will find a wealth of information in the stories throughout our site.

Canoeing & Paddling

Hiking & Backcountry

Equipment & Gear

Health & Hygiene