South Dakota National Parks

Badlands National Park

Mount Rushmore National Memorial


Badlands National Park - Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Badlands Wilderness Area covers 64,000 acres and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances.

Jewel Cave National Monument - With more than 122 miles surveyed, Jewel Cave is recognized as the third longest cave in the world. Airflow within its passages indicates a vast area yet to be explored. Cave tours provide opportunities for viewing this pristine cave system and its wide variety of speleothems including stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, frostwork, flowstone, boxwork and hydromagnesite balloons. The cave is an important hibernaculum for several species of bats.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail - This site celebrates the heroic expedition of the Corps of Discovery, led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark. Thirty three people traveled with them into unknown territory, starting near what is now known as Wood River, Illinois in 1804, reaching the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and returning in 1806.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site - Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (NHS) is one of our newest additions to the National Park System, established on December 2, 1999. Located in western South Dakota, Minuteman Missile is not yet open to the public; however, the National Park Service is already at work developing educational materials to help the public better understand the future plans for the Site and to gather information and perspectives from an international audience on the complex story of the Cold War. The Site consists of a Launch Control Center (an above ground facility attached to a subterranean capsule which contained two Air Force officers, awaiting the command to launch nuclear warfare) and a Launch Facility, also known as a missile silo. Although the tangible resource relates directly to the Minuteman Missile program, the story of the site will include the larger issues of the Cold War era.

Missouri National Recreation Area - Two stretches of the Missouri River are protected here. The portion set aside in 1978 from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, to Ponca, Nebraska, still exhibits the river's dynamic character in its islands, bars and chutes. The portion set aside in 1991 from Ft. Randall Dam near Pickstown, South Dakota, to Niobrara, Nebraska, represents the natural landscape of the Missouri River, reminiscent of pre-settlement days. Included are the lower 20 miles of the Niobrara River, and the lower eight miles of Verdigre Creek. In both segments native flood plain forest, tall and mixed grass prairie, and the river, provide habitat for several endangered and threatened bird and fish species.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Mount Rushmore memorializes the birth, growth, preservation and development of the United States of America. Between 1927 and 1941, Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot busts of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to represent the first 150 years of American history. Visitors to the memorial come primarily to view the granite sculpture itself, but also of interest is the Sculptor's Studio built under the direction of the artist, Gutzon Borglum, in 1939. Unique plaster models and tools related to the sculpting process are displayed there.

Wind Cave National Park - One of the world's longest and most complex caves and 28,295 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest, and associated wildlife are the main features of the park. The cave is well known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. The park's mixed grass prairie is one of the few remaining and is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs.



For more information visit the National Park Service website   




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