What’s in South Dakota? The Mount Rushmore State may be the fifth least-populous state but turns out it holds plenty of adventure travel.
Cross over into the western part of the state, where prairie land gives way to mountainous, pine-filled ranges, and you’ll find lots of opportunity to mountain bike, rock climb, and – in the ultimate South Dakota experience – take a helicopter tour of the state’s most famous landmark: Mount Rushmore.
Vying for a close second in “captivating experience” category is a walkabout through the very surreal Badlands National Park. Spanning more than 243,000 acres, this vast, seemingly inhospitable land is home to an intriguing mix of eroded buttes and spires, along with wildlife such as rabbits, bighorn sheep and bobcats.
Gaze out at the landscape, and it’s easy to get lost in time: Bands of sandstone, in pink hues, mark the ebb and flow of rivers over hundreds of millions of years. Of equally outlandish proportions is the whopping Native American fry bread you’ll find at the nearby Cedar Pass Lodge Restaurant. Topped with a taco mixture of beans, cheese and olives, you may need to traverse Badlands’ many trails a few more times to walk this one off.
Keep the sensory overload going with a view on land and sky of Mount Rushmore. Spanning 60 feet high, the four presidential figures carved into the granite rock are as impressive to behold on foot as they are by sky. The perk of viewing the iconic memorial on terra firma is a chance to stop by the Mount Rushmore National Park visitor center, where you can get a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream, made from the same recipe that Thomas Jefferson devised when he first introduced the chilly treat to the United States.
What else does South Dakota have to offer for the adventure seeker? For more, check out South Dakota’s Black Hills.