South Dakota State & National Parks + Forests

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State Parks

  • Bear Butte State Park – considered a sacred site by many Native American tribes. The park encompasses Bear Butte, a prominent geological formation that rises about 1,200 feet above the surrounding prairie. The butte is an important spiritual and cultural landmark, with Native American tribes conducting ceremonies and pilgrimages to the site for centuries. The park offers hiking trails that lead to the summit of Bear Butte, providing stunning panoramic views of the Black Hills and the surrounding landscape.
  • Custer State Park – one of South Dakota’s largest and most renowned state parks. It spans over 71,000 acres and is located in the Black Hills region. The park is known for its diverse wildlife, including a large herd of free-roaming bison, elk, deer, and pronghorn. Visitors to Custer State Park can enjoy scenic drives, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. The park also features several campgrounds, fishing lakes, and the iconic Needles Highway, a breathtaking scenic drive that winds through granite spires and offers stunning vistas.
  • Fisher Grove State Park – a small but picturesque state park located along the James River in South Dakota. The park covers approximately 67 acres and offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers. Visitors can enjoy fishing in the river, picnicking in the shaded areas, and birdwatching, as the park is home to various bird species. Fisher Grove State Park is a popular spot for camping, with well-maintained campsites and access to basic amenities. It’s a serene destination for those seeking a quiet and relaxing outdoor experience.
  • Fort Sisseton Historic State Park – a unique destination in South Dakota that showcases the history of the frontier military outpost era. The park encompasses the well-preserved remains of Fort Sisseton, which was established in 1864 to protect settlers and trade routes. Today, visitors can explore the fort’s buildings, including the officer’s quarters, guardhouse, and powder magazine. The park also offers camping facilities, picnic areas, and hiking trails, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the history and natural beauty of the area.
  • Good Earth State Park – a culturally significant and historically rich park located on the border of South Dakota and Iowa. The park preserves the ancient site of Blood Run, which was once a thriving Native American settlement around 1,000 years ago. The area is considered sacred by many Native American tribes, and visitors can explore the remnants of earthen mounds, village sites, and the natural landscape. Good Earth State Park offers interpretive trails, exhibits, and educational programs to provide insights into the area’s cultural and historical significance.
  • Hartford Beach State Park – a popular recreational area located on the southern shore of Big Stone Lake in South Dakota. The park covers approximately 195 acres and offers a range of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing in the lake, which is known for its walleye population. The park also features a sandy beach, picnic areas, and a campground with modern amenities. With its scenic lake views and various recreational opportunities, Hartford Beach State Park is a great destination for water-based activities and family-friendly fun.
  • Lake Herman State Park – a scenic state park located near Madison, South Dakota. Nestled along the shores of Lake Herman, the park covers approximately 80 acres and offers a tranquil escape for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake is popular for fishing, particularly for largemouth bass and crappie. The park also features hiking trails, picnic areas, and a swimming beach. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot various bird species, including waterfowl and bald eagles. Whether it’s fishing, hiking, or simply enjoying the peaceful surroundings, Lake Herman State Park provides a serene setting for nature lovers.
  • Newton Hills State Park – a beautiful park situated in the rolling hills of southeastern South Dakota. Spanning over 1,000 acres, the park offers a diverse landscape of forests, prairies, and scenic valleys. It provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The park also features a campground, picnic areas, and a disc golf course. Visitors can explore the park’s extensive trail system, which showcases the natural beauty of the area and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Oakwood Lakes State Park – a picturesque park located in eastern South Dakota. Encompassing approximately 650 acres, the park is known for its scenic lakes, mature trees, and abundant wildlife. Oakwood Lakes State Park offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming in its clear and tranquil lakes. The park’s campground provides a place for overnight stays, and visitors can also enjoy hiking trails, picnic areas, and a playground. With its peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty, Oakwood Lakes State Park is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and relaxation.
  • Palisades State Park – a unique park located along Split Rock Creek in eastern South Dakota. The park is named after its stunning pink quartzite cliffs, which tower above the creek and create a dramatic landscape. Palisades State Park offers hiking trails that wind through the rugged terrain, allowing visitors to explore the unique rock formations and enjoy scenic views. The park also provides picnic areas, camping facilities, and opportunities for fishing and kayaking in the creek. It’s a place where nature and geology come together, offering visitors a memorable outdoor experience.
  • Roy Lake State Park – a popular recreational area located in northeastern South Dakota. Spanning over 1,000 acres, the park encompasses the picturesque Roy Lake and its surrounding woodlands. The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, with a variety of fish species, including walleye and northern pike. Roy Lake State Park features a swimming beach, boat ramps, hiking trails, and a campground with both modern and primitive sites. The park’s serene setting, combined with its recreational amenities, makes it a favored destination for fishing, boating, and camping enthusiasts.
  • Sica Hollow State Park – a scenic park located in northeastern South Dakota. It is known for its unique geological formations, such as the Sica Hollow Creek and the Coteau des Prairies hills. The park offers several hiking trails that wind through dense forests and alongside the creek, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the area. Sica Hollow State Park is also steeped in Native American folklore and legends, which adds to its mystical appeal. With its striking landscapes and rich history, the park provides a captivating experience for nature lovers and those interested in cultural heritage.
  • Union Grove State Park – a peaceful park located in southeastern South Dakota. Situated along the banks of Lake Tetonkaha, the park covers approximately 286 acres and offers a serene retreat for visitors. The lake provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming, while the park’s campground offers a place for overnight stays. Union Grove State Park also features picnic areas, hiking trails, and a playground, making it a family-friendly destination for outdoor recreation. With its tranquil setting and recreational amenities, the park provides a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

National Parks

State & National Forests

Black Hills National Forest

National Natural Landmarks

  • Ancient River Warren Channel: A channel cut by the Ancient River Warren during the Ice Age.
  • Bear Butte: A cone-shaped mass of igneous rock standing alone 1,300 feet (400 m) above the surrounding plains. 44.475833°N 103.426944°W
  • Bijou Hills: An excellent example of an erosional remnant of soft clays and shales capped by a channel sandstone and quartzite. 43.517778°N 99.147222°W
  • Buffalo Slough: Excellent examples of a prairie pothole with native emergent vegetation, and a native bluestem prairie. 43.874308°N 96.939013°W
  • The Castles: Steep-walled, flat-topped buttes standing 200 to 400 feet (61 to 122 m) above the surrounding prairie. 45.527583°N 103.170965°W
  • Cathedral Spires and Limber Pine Natural Area: An excellent, rare example of joint-controlled weathering of granite. 43.841111°N 103.544444°W
  • Cottonwood Slo45°31’39.3″N 103°10’15.5″W – Google Maps
  • ugh-Dry Run: A completely undisturbed wetland complex including potholes, streams, shallow open water, lakes, and marsh. 44.957077°N 97.193497°W
  • Fort Randall Eagle Roost: A prime winter roosting area for bald and golden eagles.
  • Lake Thompson: Contains a large undisturbed and unmanipulated marsh, an outstanding waterfowl breeding and resting area. 44.285°N 97.461944°W
  • The Mammoth Site: One of the largest concentrations of mammoth remains in the United States. 43.42471°N 103.48313°W
  • Red Lake: One of the largest remaining natural and unmanipulated prairie pothole lakes. 43.726352°N 99.22518°W
  • Sica Hollow: Displays many facets of natural history. 45.741944°N 97.2425°W
  • Snake Butte: Illustrates one of two types of sand calcite deposits in the world.