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“I don’t think the real America is in New York or on the Pacific Coast;
personally, I like the Middle West much better, places like North and South Dakota, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
There, I think, are the true Americans”
– Charlie Chaplin

South Dakota is every road trippers ultimate dream.

Rolling hills, wide-open prairies, wildlife that walks alongside cars, winding roads that continually twist and turn, looping bridges, tightly cut tunnels, and unique attractions like the World’s Only Corn Palace, Mammoth fossils site, and a 1930s Dinosaur Park liberally sprinkled at every turn; South Dakota has it all.

Best explored in a campervan or RV, the state is also perfect for car trips and stopovers in rustic towns.

South Dakota is American heartland at its best: community and familial relationships take precedence here and time-honored values like simplicity and faith are cherished by all generations.

Farms and cattle are treasured and stacked hay bales along the road welcome visitors.

Firmly situated in the country’s ‘Breadbasket’, South Dakota is filled with swaying cornfields and hard-working, friendly people.

There is so much to say about South Dakota’s attractions that we don’t know where to begin: Mount Rushmore is the undoubted star attraction and the state proudly carries the title of ‘Mount Rushmore State’ on its license plates.

The Memorial is one of the most patriotic places in the country and visited by over a million tourists each year.

However, at its heart, South Dakota is Lakota Nation and the Native American heritage is proudly presented by Crazy Horse Memorial and the Native American Scenic Byway.

Mining ghost towns like Deadwood shine a light on the discovery of gold in the region.

Yet the man-made attractions are only second best to South Dakota’s richly blessed landscapes.

The majestic Needles formations of the densely forested Black Hills and the stomach-churning road that passes through them are breathtaking.

Custer State Park with its stampeding herd of buffaloes has unparalleled Great Plains wildlife viewing opportunities while the fantastic fall scenery of Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is one of the best in the nation.

However, it is at Badlands National Park that the dramatic landscape of South Dakota really leaves its mark on visitors.

Badlands is a world apart from the rest of the state – this desolate and bizarre landscape has been rightly compared to the barren surface of the moon. Badlands is where we fell in love with South Dakota.

In the middle of flyover country, South Dakota will be the best thing to ever happen to you.

How to plan your trip to South Dakota

South Dakota was the 40th State to join the Union in November 1889.

The state’s name comes from the Dakota Sioux people; it is also known as the Mount Rushmore State due to its premier tourist attraction.

It is located in the Midwest and bordered by North Dakota to the north, Wyoming and Montana to the west, Nebraska to the South, and Minnesota and Iowa to the east.

Missouri River flows through the middle of South Dakota. The state capital is Pierre, located in central South Dakota.

The state has rich Native American heritage and the Sioux culture and influence is clearly visible in most places.

Farming and agriculture remain an important economic activity. The state has unparalleled natural beauty and should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

The only way to explore the state is by taking a South Dakota Road Trip.

Keep aside 4 days to a week for seeing this state. We recommend flying into Rapid City and renting a car at the airport.

With a car in your hands, you can begin your trip at Custer State Park and end at Badlands National Park, which is even more spectacular than the Grand Canyon.

Along the way visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial.

Take your time driving along the beautiful Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road. Hike or swim in the Legion Lake at Custer State Park and see the State Game Lodge – Summer White House of President Coolidge.

Get stuck in a buffalo jam on the Wildlife Loop Road, spot your first pronghorns, and feed the begging burros. Your South Dakota road trip is going to be full of memorable wildlife encounters.

See the touristy Wall Drug before you enter the otherworldly confines of Badlands National Park. 

Hike the Badlands Wall to see spectacular views of the White River Valley and drive the Loop Road to see and photograph bizarre geological forms. Fall in love with Badlands just like we did.

If you have more time, see the World’s Only Corn Palace at Mitchell and other unique roadside attractions like the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs and the abandoned mining town of Deadwood or hike the Black Elk Peak – the tallest peak in South Dakota.

Go spelunking at Wind Cave National Monument or drive the scenic drives of South Dakota including the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.

Whatever adventure you chose, you will be having a memorable time.