South Dakota State Parks

There are both national parks in South Dakota, such as the Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park, and national monuments, such as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. There are also numerous state parks in South Dakota as well as recreation areas, which include twelve South Dakota state parks and 42 recreation areas. Additionally, you will find six nature areas, one historic prairie, 69 lakeside use areas, and ten marina resorts.

In addition to the national parks in South Dakota listed above, you will find other national park attractions in the legendary Black Hills. These include caves such as the Jewel Cave National Monument, which is located close to the Crazy Horse Memorial and is the second-longest cave system in the world. Just on the boundary of the Badlands is the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site where you can take tours of one of the sites that protected the country during the Cold War. Elsewhere in the state, national parks in South Dakota include the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which spans eleven states from Illinois to the Pacific Northwest. Within South Dakota, it follows the early nineteenth-century route of the Corps of Discovery along the Missouri River from the southern border with Nebraska and Iowa, north to North Dakota. Near the town of Yankton is the Missouri National Recreational River, which has excellent boating and fishing.

The South Dakota State Parks and Recreation Areas provide more, almost limitless, outdoor recreation—even in winter when the hiking trails are managed as the state's Snowmobile Trail Program. The 114-mile long Mickelson Trail through the heart of the Black Hills has easy access for visitors of all ages and hiking abilities. Some of the trail is in national forest land and some is on private land, and the trail passes through 100 converted railroad bridges and four hard-rock tunnels. Also in the Black Hills is Custer State Park, the oldest and largest (at almost 71,000 acres) in the South Dakota State Parks system.

State parks in South Dakota also include water-access areas, especially in the Glacial Lakes and Prairies Region of the northeast. There are 220 public water access areas with 291 boat ramps, 389 total launching lanes, and 26 fishing docks and piers. State parks in South Dakota also offer almost 4,000 campgrounds and campsites, with a total of nearly a quarter of a million individual camping units. These are divided into primitive camping areas (nonelectric) and those with hookups for motor homes and recreational vehicles. There are also five lodge resorts as well as more than 130 vacation rental cabins. Virtually all of these parks have environmental and educational programs, junior ranger programs, various exhibits and special events, theater productions, speakers, and concerts. You can enjoy everything from rock concerts and traditional Native American dancers to bald eagle watches and re-enactments of Little House on the Prairie stories at the Ingalls Homestead. As you can see, the South Dakota State Parks system and the nationally administered parks are extensive, stretching across the entire state and encompassing a wide variety of different ecosystems offering numerous things to do and see.

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