Your guide to exploring the great outdoors in South Dakota is finally here! The Midwest isn’t the first thing you think of when planning a road trip, but most folks do travel through on their way from coast to coast. Surprisingly, South Dakota has many exhilarating things to do and unique places to experience. You may even find some gold while you’re here! Lets see what’s on the list.
Art Alley in Rapid City
First stop on our guide to exploring the great outdoors in South Dakota is in our hometown, Rapid City! Hop out to explore this gem located in downtown Rapid City on the side of Hotel Alex Johnson. “Art Alley” is known for the local artists expressive forms of life meaning. Take a cool selfie or artistic shot for your social media feed to show your intuitive wild side. The art is said to change weekly, having artists from all over the world stop in and “blast” pieces on the wall during their visit. You never know… you might show up and see one come to life before your eyes.
Experience Mount Rushmore
This famous monument, visited by over 2 million tourists each year, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a town called Keystone. The faces of these founding fathers are over 60ft in length and almost 100 years old. In the 1950s and 1960s, local Lakota Sioux elder Benjamin Black Elk (son of medicine man Black Elk, who had been present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) was known as the “Fifth Face of Mount Rushmore”, posing for photographs with thousands of tourists daily in his native attire. The South Dakota State Historical Society notes that he was one of the most photographed people in the world over that twenty-year period. Get your camera out and pose like Benjamin Black Elk in front of the faces for an epic historical photograph.
Pan For Gold in the Historic Department
“We’re rich!” In 1874 gold was discovered at French Creek in South Dakota, now referred to as “Custer County”. Since then over 20 million ounces of gold have been discovered. Today, many visitors stop and pan for gold in the streams surrounding the Black Hills. Make sure you’re prepared to explore this unique experience! You’re going to need:
- A gold pan – A variety of gold pans can be purchased, or you can make your own with a shallow, round pan lined on the bottom with lightly crumpled aluminum foil.
- A spade – A small spade or hand-shovel will be necessary for transferring river sediment into your pan.
- A seat – Squatting next to a riverbank quickly becomes exhausting. It’s usually a good idea to have a nice, low seat to sit on, such as a step-stool
- A safe place to put your findings – You could end up with thousands of flakes of gold by the end of the day that are no thicker than an eyelash; make sure you have a secure place to put them after panning so they don’t simply get swept away in the wind.
- Free time and patience – Gold panning isn’t normally done as a means of reliable income anymore. You can certainly make some money with it, but it is very easy to become frustrated if you can’t be patient.
Take An Easy Hike to Spearfish Falls
Talk about an interesting story behind this natural wonder! During the early 1800s, the Burlington Railroad line took passengers right over Spearfish Falls, making it a popular tourist icon back in the day. Though, in 1917, the falls were actually turned off for 86 years, as the creek water was diverted to a hydroelectric power plant for the Homestake Gold Mine. But in 2003, the waterfall was restored. To this day, you can see the remains of the rail line. Because the falls were defunct for so long, they’re definitely a lesser-known gem in the canyon, and the hike, which starts from the parking lot of the Latchstring Restaurant, is pretty easy.
Visit the World’s Only Corn Palace
In 1892 (when Mitchell, South Dakota was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants) the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. Now over 100 year old, it has become known worldwide and now attracts more than a half a million visitors annually. The palace was conceived as a gathering place where city residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival with extraordinary stage entertainment – a celebration to climax a crop-growing season and harvest. This tradition continues today with the annual Corn Palace Festival held in late August each year.
We hope this guide was helpful with fun ideas for you to explore in the great state of South Dakota. If you’re looking for a means to travel, look no further than Green Star Campers. Green Star Camper Center, a South Dakota RV Dealership carries New Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels and Used Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels. We stock Rockwood and R.Pod’s by Forest River, as well as Bullet by Keystone and many more. Give us a call today at 605-343-6877 or visit us at 120 N. Cambell Street Rapid City, SD. 57703