National Parks in South Dakota is a great way to experience the beauty that this state has to offer. There are many amazing places in the United States. Badlands National Park is one of the most unique and diverse places in North America. Jewel Cave National Monument has beautiful calcite formations and cave life.
South Dakota has six National Parks. There are more than two million acres in these parks. This is the smallest state that has this many national parks, and less than three-quarters of a million people live here.
The parks were made in different ways, but each one provides an opportunity for people to see some of America’s most beautiful natural wonders.
1. Badlands National Park
The park was first created in 1978. One reason for this is that it has a lot of wildlife living there and it is one of the best places to find fossils in the world. The preserved ecosystem also provides scientists with valuable information about how plants, animals, and ecosystems have evolved over millennia.
It is a vast and beautiful expanse of land in southwestern South Dakota. This park spans 75 miles east of Rapid City, which means it’s close enough to explore for an afternoon!
The landscape changes a lot when you hike in the deep ravines. Rocks change and grow over time because of erosion. Be careful in this terrain.
2. Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument is a national park and preserves in central South Dakota. Jewel Cave, which was formed 200 million years ago, has the longest known cave system in the world at about 390 miles (630 km) long!
During the summer, bats go south. In winter, there are bats inside Jewel Cave National Monument. On the Ranger Programs page, you can find out more about what to do in Jewel Cave National Monument.
Tucked away in the southwest corner of South Dakota, Jewel Cave is one-of-a-kind. It’s a World Heritage site and remains open year-round for visitors to explore its many nooks and crannies.
You can spend a lot of time looking at the formations and exploring the rooms. So pack your bags now because if you want an adventure, Jewel Cave is waiting for you!
3. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail was established in 1978 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the expedition.
The trail is a journey through some of the most historic places in America. You can go from Montana to Oregon.
Lewis and Clark went looking for a way to the Pacific Ocean. They traveled across 8 states in what is now known as the Louisiana Purchase.
This expedition was one part of a larger mission. They were also looking for new lifeforms that humans had not known about before.
4. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota is a national historic site owned and operated by the United States. The site marks the location of one of America’s first ICBM complexes, and it was designated to be shut down.
This place has two underground places that were never used as they were supposed to. They became monuments instead.
You can visit a place called the 75-mile missile launch center. A guided tour is open to people who are not in the military.
5. Missouri National Recreational River
The Missouri National Recreational River is a beautiful place that includes 100 miles of the Mississippi River. People can explore it to see America.
The area has many different types of habitats such as wetlands and forests with flora and fauna that one can also experience by boat or on foot.
Visitors have access to abundant campsites where they can enjoy fishing, biking, hiking, bird watching, and much more.
The Missouri River flows from Nebraska to South Dakota. When it reaches the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, it empties into it.
6. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore is a monument that is one of America’s most popular cultural icons. It can be found in Keystone, South Dakota on federal land that was donated by the government.
The memorial stands for four U.S presidents: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.
The 60-foot high Mount Rushmore was created by sculptor Gutzon Borglum in the 1920s. He asked historian Doane Robinson, who knew a lot about South Dakota, to help him brainstorm this project. Now, each of these 4 Presidents is carved in granite for all Americans to see!
With so many reasons to explore the national parks in South Dakota, there’s no excuse not to get outside this summer.
Grab your family and friends, pack up a picnic basket or two, some sunscreen and water bottles (and maybe an extra set of clothes), then head out for one of these amazing places!
You’ll be glad you did–whether it was just a day trip or an entire vacation with miles of hiking trails that will take you back to our country’s roots. So what are you waiting for? Get off the couch and start exploring today!