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24 Hours In South Dakota

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by Nicole Diebold

April 17, 2024

3 minute read

“Great Faces. Great Places.” That’s the state slogan for South Dakota, the 40th state to join the Union back in 1889. With 77,123 square miles of sprawling land and shoreline – visitors need to hit the ground running with a plan, especially if they only had 24 hours to explore this unique state. There’s a lot here to experience so we’ve created a list of the top things to do!

Crazy Horse Memorial – Learn the story behind the world’s largest, still-in-progress mountain sculpture. You better try to see it now, before it’s complete! Whilst you’re here, check out the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Cultural Centre, the sculptor’s studio and theaters.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Meet the presidents at this massive sculpture carved into Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The famous sculpture’s granite faces (which are 60 feet high) depict U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Badlands National Park – Travel the Badlands Loop Road past scenic lookouts. Home to vibrant colours and rock formations created by mineral deposits, the Badlands’ dramatic landscapes, steep canyons and towering spires make for incredible photos. Bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs inhabit its sprawling grasslands. 
Wall Drug – Visit the legendary Wall Drug, a store barely changed since 1936. Do a little browsing, have a seat at the soda fountain, and perhaps grab a bite for lunch.
Deadwood – You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped onto the set of an old-fashioned Western. You can’t miss the chance to visit historic Deadwood, where gold, gambling, and gunpowder were once the order of the day. There’s so much to do: the Adams Museum, dedicated to preserving Deadwood’s history; Kevin Costner’s Tatanka: Story of the Bison, sculptures depicting the relationship between bison and the Lakota; the burial spots of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane; the High Plains Heritage Centre. 
Custer State Park – This wildlife reserve in the Black Hills is South Dakota's largest and first state park. As you explore this stunning, wide-open park, look for bighorn sheep or wandering elk. Take in the lush landscape, rocky outcrops, and grazing animals. Don’t miss the chance to take a Buffalo Safari, cruising deep into the park in an open-air jeep and searching for herds of roaming buffalo.

When you look at the list, it’s clear that you can’t actually do all of these things in just 24 hours and really, none of them should be missed. This is why we created our Spotlights tours, which are designed to immerse you into one locale, and show you what life is truly like there. You’ll see the must-see attractions and also the best-kept local secrets. You get to unpack just once and explore at a pace that allows for true cultural immersion.

If you want to really experience all that South Dakota offers, check out our Spotlight on South Dakota tour. It explores the history, beauty and culture of this beautiful state and you’ll have plenty of time to really dig in and “do it all.” Enjoy!

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