Get Exploring! South Dakota is home to a variety of striking landscapes, remote open spaces, and plenty of history.
If you're looking to get away from the teeming masses, the Mount Rushmore state makes a great destination. Sparse South Dakota is the 16th-largest U.S. state by area but comes in 46th out of 50 in population.
Many of South Dakota's most appealing destinations are in the southwest. Make a trip to Badlands National Park if you've never seen this unique region. Here, geological formations created by millennia of erosion mark a dramatic shift from the Great Plains to the east. The hiking and wildlife-spotting opportunities in the area are particularly rich.
For a very wide variety of adventure options, take a swing into Custer State Park. This 71,000-acre park also sits in the southwestern corner of the state, near the Nebraska and Wyoming borders. Go for intense hikes in the surrounding Black Hills or saddle up and explore the horse trails. In the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular.
The Black Hills are also the spot of the famous Mount Rushmore presidential monument. This spot is mostly for sightseers and history buffs, though—there's not much in the way of camping activities. Drive 40 minutes west to hit the enormous Black Hills National Forest for that. The BHNF contains a whopping 1.2 million acres of forests and mountains!
There aren't too many large bodies of water in landlocked South Dakota. One of the major ones is the Angostura Reservoir, a bit south of Custer. Fed by the Cheyenne River, this man-made lake allows for exceptional fishing of walleye, pike, bass, and perch. You can set up camp in the Angostura Recreation Area.