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Snowboarding in South Dakota

South Dakota

5 Unexpected Adventures in South Dakota

By: Joel Welin

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  • States:
    South Dakota

Break out of your routine and try something new: You’re in South Dakota, the state that welcomes exploration 

World-class fishing, hunting, hiking and camping have long been favorite pastimes in the Mount Rushmore State, but there are many other outdoor activities to thrill adventure seekers.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

View the galaxy against the backdrop of the otherworldly landscape of Badlands National Park.

The park, located 80 kilometers east of Rapid City, affords an opportunity for star gazing at its very best – perhaps in the nation and maybe even in the world. Witness the awesome glory of the Milky Way with the naked eye while walking through fossil beds that date back 37 million years. The eroded buttes and jagged crevasses are home to buffalo, bighorn sheep, deer and pronghorn. By day, visitors can explore hiking trails or drive Badlands Loop Road.

liz west/Flickr

World’s End in Hingham, Massachusetts, offers plenty of opportunities to stroll, picnic and boat.

Rock Climbing

Scaling the granite crags in The Needles area of Custer State Park is a bucket list challenge for climbers.

In the Needles area in Custer State Park, 40 kilometers southwest of Rapid City, particularly in the granite and pegmatite formations known as the Cathedral Spires, adventurers encounter breathtaking vertical adventures. And if you’re not inclined to scale the heights yourself, hunker down between the rocks and photograph the ascenders as they climb.

Sailing

Near-constant winds make for great sailing on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton. 

One thing is certain: Whether setting sail on Lake Oahe in the center of state, on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton in the southeast, or on Angostura Reservoir near Hot Springs in the southwest, you’ll never want for steady winds. Why not rent a boat at any of the marinas that dot the shorelines, take a quick lesson to update your skills and you’ll soon find yourself on the water and in the wind. 

Winter Sports

Snowmobilers enjoy the powdery roads and trails in Spearfish Canyon near Roughlock Falls.

South Dakota is naturally good at accumulating snow and snowmobiling is a favorite pastime throughout the state, as is snowshoe touring and cross-country skiing. For alpine skiing and snowboarding, the Black Hills offers two areas with slopes and runs of varying degrees of difficulty through the powdered Ponderosa pines – Terry Peak and Ski Mystic, both near Deadwood and Lead in the northern hills.

Mountain Biking

The annual Fat-Tire Festival is a popular destination for mountain bikers, drawing two-wheelers from across the nation.

With an annual festival held outside Rapid City, fat-tire touring is fast becoming a favorite sport in the state. The 175-kilometer Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills offers easier, more family-friendly fun, while the 179-kilometer Centennial Trail, also in the Black Hills, is a more strenuous and adventurous ride.

Getting there: Getting to South Dakota is easy and convenient via connecting flights from many international gateway airports including: Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, Denver in Colorado, Chicago O’Hare in Illinois, Salt Lake City in Utah, Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Georgia.

Stargazing in the Badlands of South Dakota

Stargazing in the Badlands of South Dakota
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Rock Climbing

In the Needles area in Custer State Park, 40 kilometers southwest of Rapid City, particularly in the granite and pegmatite formations known as the Cathedral Spires, adventurers encounter breathtaking vertical adventures. And if you’re not inclined to scale the heights yourself, hunker down between the rocks and photograph the ascenders as they climb.

Scaling the granite crags in The Needles area of Custer State Park is a bucket list challenge for climbers.

Scaling the granite crags in The Needles area of Custer State Park is a bucket list challenge for climbers.
View more

Sailing

One thing is certain: Whether setting sail on Lake Oahe in the center of state, on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton in the southeast, or on Angostura Reservoir near Hot Springs in the southwest, you’ll never want for steady winds. Why not rent a boat at any of the marinas that dot the shorelines, take a quick lesson to update your skills and you’ll soon find yourself on the water and in the wind. 

Near-constant winds make for great sailing on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton.

Near-constant winds make for great sailing on Lewis & Clark Lake near Yankton.
View more

Winter Sports

South Dakota is naturally good at accumulating snow and snowmobiling is a favorite pastime throughout the state, as is snowshoe touring and cross-country skiing. For alpine skiing and snowboarding, the Black Hills offers two areas with slopes and runs of varying degrees of difficulty through the powdered Ponderosa pines – Terry Peak and Ski Mystic, both near Deadwood and Lead in the northern hills.

Snowmobilers enjoy the powdery roads and trails in Spearfish Canyon near Roughlock Falls.

Snowmobilers enjoy the powdery roads and trails in Spearfish Canyon near Roughlock Falls.
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More information

Mountain Biking

With an annual festival held outside Rapid City, fat-tire touring is fast becoming a favorite sport in the state. The 175-kilometer Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills offers easier, more family-friendly fun, while the 179-kilometer Centennial Trail, also in the Black Hills, is a more strenuous and adventurous ride.

The annual Fat-Tire Festival is a popular destination for mountain bikers, drawing two-wheelers from across the nation.

The annual Fat-Tire Festival is a popular destination for mountain bikers, drawing two-wheelers from across the nation.
View more
More information

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