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USATourist News
Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

October 2009 - South Dakota

In this issue:

Welcome to the October issue of USATourist.com. It's autumn here in the United States and what a beautiful time of year to visit! In parts of the country, leaves have turned to gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows while fall festivities are in full swing. By the end of the month Halloween activities, such as haunted houses, corn field mazes, and pumpkin patches will be found everywhere, from large cities to small towns. This time of year is ideal for taking advantage of outdoor patio restaurants and walking local park trails and visiting zoos.

In the spirit of cooler weather, this month we're going to visit a state that certainly sees four seasons - South Dakota. Don't get confused, as there is also North Dakota and together North Dakota and South Dakota are referred to as "The Dakotas." This month we're going to jump around the southern of the two and point out many reasons to visit South Dakota. South Dakota is divided by the Missouri River and locally it's known as the "West River" and "East River." The western part of the state has the beautiful mountains while the eastern part is ideal for farming.


The town of Deadwood has worked hard to maintain historic buildings while capitalizing on modern tourism.
Photo by: Michelle Leco ©USATourist.com

The Gems of the Black Hills

The Black Hills National Forest is located in southwestern South Dakota and spills over into northeastern Wyoming. The 1.2 million acre area is covered in ponderosa pines and reaches an elevation of 7,242 feet. Winter in South Dakota is ideal for those who love winter sports like skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling or ice fishing. The Black Hills, in particular, is a great place to experience these activities, especially with its 325 miles of snowmobile trails. Summertime is fantastic for camping at any of the 30 campgrounds, fishing in the 1300 miles of steams, exploring the 101 miles of National Scenic Byways.

Jewel Cave National Monument is the world's second largest (known) cave with a recorded 136 miles (219 km) of passages.

Everyone loves the Wild West, and at Historic Deadwood you can relive the era. Back in 1876, this gold camp was a wild gambling town. Today, it's a National Historic Landmark but the area still reflects what it once was with its 80 historic gaming halls.

The Black Hills' 71,000-acre Custer State Park is home to one of the world's largest publicly-owned bison herds - nearly 1,500. Every fall (September or October) the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is held. It's supposed to be quite a sight to see and hear as the ground rumbles and dust flies while the herd makes its way across the land.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of the most recognized landmarks in the U.S.
Photo by: Michelle Leco ©USATourist.com

Also found in the Black Hills is one of the country's most famous and cherished landmarks: Mount Rushmore. Four United States presidents' faces - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln - are carved in the side of the mountain. The carvings are 60-feet high and sit 500-feet up in the air. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum is the artist behind this amazing feat. He began the carving in 1927 and took 14 years to complete. Spring is a lovely time to visit Mount Rushmore since the wildflowers will be in bloom. Also, keep an eye out for the 200 mountain goats roaming the area.

Free Attraction Tip: Located in Rapid City is an American classic: Dinosaur Park. This free tourist attraction of seven dinosaurs is situated on a hill overlooking the city and has been around since the 1930's.

Bikers' Paradise

The absolutely best time for motorcycle enthusiasts to visit South Dakota is the first full week of August for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is held every year in the western part of the state in Sturgis, South Dakota. The rally has been around since 1938 and sees over half-million cyclists each year.

Our partner, EagleRider, has over 10 locations where you can rent a motorcycle in South Dakota: http://www.eaglerider.com/Events/Sturgis-Motorcycle-Rally.aspx

Where the bears are

Bear Country USA, the "drive through wildlife park" of South Dakota, is a favorite attraction. The 250-acre park has a three-mile drive which provides up close views of black bears, bighorn sheep, elk, reindeer, deer, rocky mountain goats, buffalo, cougars, and bobcats. You can get out of the car and roam around Babyland, where the little ones live. Bear Country closes in November for the winter, but it reopens for the summer during May.

The eastern part of the state

On the opposite end of the state, in southeast South Dakota, a different world is waiting to be explored. This is where you will find the state's Heartland region, wineries and pheasant hunting (starting this month). Back in 1892 the World's only Corn Palace was built in Mitchell, South Dakota. Today, the palace is a tourist attraction. The building's exterior is decorated with corn and revamped every year by local artists who create with a new theme and a fresh batch of over 275,000 ears of corn.

Mitchell Corn Palace

The varieties of corn make the Corn Palace in Mitchell a vibrant
sight to see.
Photo by: South Dakota Tourism ©TravelSD.com

Laura Ingalls Wilder based many of her Little House on the Prairie stories here in South Dakota. Visitors to the Ingalls Homestead will love experiencing the era with covered wagon rides, 1880's School Session, Ma's Little House, pioneering activities, camping, horses and more.


Rapid City Regional Airport is the closest airport if you plan to fly in and visit the Black Hills or western part of the state while Sioux City Regional Airport serves the south eastern section.

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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