Adventure Destination: South Dakota

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.

Primal Quest adventure race comes to South Dakota

This week, Primal Quest Badlands gets underway in South Dakota, where coed teams of four will embark on a ten-day long, non-stop adventure race across 600-miles of challenging backcountry. They will run, trek, mountain bike, and paddle their way across the course, with a little spelunking and climbing thrown into the mix for good measure.

Billed as “the World’s Most Challenging Human Endurance Competition”, the race will also require the competitors to navigate their way, using just a compass and map, through a series of checkpoints that are strategically placed across the course. Teams with excellent navigation skills will save time, and energy, while inexperienced navigators can easily get lost, costing the team precious time.

Unlike many other long distance races, Primal Quest runs non-stop once the starting gun sounds. That means that the teams will be racing for up to ten days, with little sleep or down time. Sleep strategy actually plays an important role, as the athletes will need to decide how long they can go without rest, and how long they can afford to sleep. While the race is underway, most teams will get just two hours of sleep each night, while burning as much as 8000-10,000 calories per day.

Primal Quest Badlands begins on Friday morning, and until that time, the details of the course will remain tightly under wraps. We do know that it will run through the Black Hills, the Buffalo Gap Grasslands, and of course the Badlands themselves. The stunning landscapes will make for an amazing backdrop to the human drama that will play out over the 600-miles of pain and suffering that await the endurance athletes who will challenge themselves in this event.