When adventure travelers think about exotic locations to visit they seldom mention South Dakota. There are plenty of mountain states in the western U.S. that get more attention, thanks in no small part to the higher elevations in the Rockies. But South Dakota can hold its own in terms of rugged backcountry and beat most other locations with the diversity of its terrain.
Make no mistake, the eastern part of South Dakota has little to offer adventure travelers. It is mostly flat, and uninteresting, plains. But travel west, and you’ll come across amazing scenery ranging from the lush and green Black Hills National Forest to the arid and desolate landscapes of the Badlands. In between, you’ll find the iconic Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument, which remains under construction 61 years after work first commenced.
The Black Hills and Badlands offer plenty of activities to keep even the busiest of outdoor enthusiasts occupied. The area recently played host to Primal Quest, a ten-day, 600 mile adventure race, that saw teams trekking, peddling, and paddling their way across the South Dakota backcountry. That means that there is top notch mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking to be had throughout the region, with miles of trails stretching in all directions. Rock climbers will find impressive big walls, while spelunkers and campers will find that their needs are well met too.South Dakota is also home to many diverse species of animals as well. Roaming the region you’ll find plenty of deer, both white tail and mule, elk, coyote, mountain lion, bighorn sheep and more. The state is also home to the elusive, and endangered, black footed ferret as well as the largest remaining herd of buffalo on Earth. For wildlife lovers, South Dakota has plenty to offer as well.
For a better idea of what it’s like in the Badlands, check out the video below.