South Dakota Road Trip Itinerary

South Dakota was named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. It is a state found in the Midwest of the United States of America. Its largest city in the state is Sioux Falls. Compared to other states South Dakota has a lower cost of living and has in several occasions been listed as one of the best states to retire to.

The state is home to 2 historic monuments carved into towering granite peaks which are Mount Rushmore with the faces of 4 revered U.S.A presidents and Crazy Horse Memorial which was a tribute to a native American tribal leader. The state has a whole lot more sites to see.

Places to visit

Table Of Contents

1. Mount Rushmore – this historic monument is South Dakota’s most popular tourist attraction. This is clearly the work of a professional, carving the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt into the side of the mountain couldn’t have been easy. The carving was designed by Gutzon and work began in 1927 but was left unfinished for a couple of years only to be finished in 1991. For better viewing light is shone on the monument at night.

2. Crazy Horse Memorial – this memorial north of Custer was begun in 1947 but is still not fully complete. The carving in the mountain was made to honour chief Standing Bear. The Indian Museum of North America sheds more light to the Crazy Horse. To view the monument there are buses that take visitors to the base of the Crazy Horse for a closer look all day long. 

3. Badlands National Park – the weather agents eroded this rock to form the unique hills and pinnacles. The scenery looks good in pictures so this is definitely a place to have your picture taken. To tour the Badlands the Loop road is employed to take you from northwestern Pinnacles to the Ben Reifel Visitor Centre. One of the few landscapes that are still intact is the Buffalo Gap National Grassland which can be seen from the Loop Road. It is marked with hiking trails throughout the park but more concentrated in the Cedar Pass area.

4. Custer State Park – I can safely say this is the best national park in South Dakota covering vast amounts of the land of different terrain. The landscape is ideal for site seeing and outdoor activities like hiking. The national park is home to a wide variety of animal species, bison is one of the most common species in the national park. The park is also home to the famous Sylvan Lake Shore Trail which is ideal for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

5. Wind Cave National Park – as its name suggests, the area is home to a lot of caves some of the record size. The caves have a unique structure known as box work, only a few places are known to have this structure. To have a close look of the cave you’ll have to join one of the tours in the park, for safety the tour was guided by rangers. The Civilian Conservation Corps built cement pathways in the 1930s for easy access.

6. Mammoth Site – the site has an ice age exhibit hall which displays some of the artefacts found from that era. The site is also home to some Columbian mammoth bones. 

7. Deadwood – just as you enter Deadwood you feel like you took a step back into time. The town is home to the Adams Museum and the Broken Boot Gold Mine. Then a visit to wild bill’s resting place which is Mount Moriah Cemetery.

8. Spearfish Canyon – known for the abundance of pine trees and ponderosa this is a beautiful place complimented by the stunning waterfalls and cliff walls. For hiking Bridal Veil and the Rough Lock falls are the go-to places, they have beautiful scenery and views.

9. National Music Museum – to try and figure out the secrets of music the University of South Dakota in Vermillion studies the history of musical instruments. On display inside is a wide range of musical instruments from different eras and different cultures.

10.  Good Earth State Park at blood run – the Oneota people once gathered here to do trade long ago. The area has the oldest record of human civilisation in the land that we now call the U.S.A, to learn all this history I visited the modern centre and also learnt about the environment as it evolved.

11.  Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove – it houses a wide range of butterfly species from all over the world, all with different colours and in different sizes. The marine cove also houses a wide range of marine life. You can take classes of yoga, meditation, and tai-chi at the house in its 3,600 square foot tropical garden.

Where to stay

1. Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City – for a very affordable price I was able to get free parking and free Wi-Fi all at once. The rooms are air-conditioned and have great amenities that you usually get in the more expensive hotels.

2. Cedarwood Inn –  did not expect much from the Inn but the stay felt like I was in a 5-star resort while surfing the internet searching for what to do next with the free high-speed Wi-Fi. The car was also parked and safe at no charge at all

3. Hotel On Philips Sioux Falls – after a view of the falls we decided to go for something on the luxurious end and a bit more expensive. The hotel was satisfactory with a fast Wi-Fi connection which was generously free. Though the hotel does have some shortcomings in terms of value for money, the stay was superb

Best scenery

I’m going to list these beginning with the best:

1. Needles highway

2. Wildlife loop road

3. Spearfish canyon


For recreation, there are room escape games; escape 605 in particular. Then the following day we went to the storybook island for some fun. We would encourage you to make this most of this trip. Live a little!

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