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Home of the Perfect Road Trip
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Although the peak season to visit is the summer months, there will be fewer crowds and pleasant weather in late spring and early fall for traveling through varied terrain that includes farmland, river hills, prairies and mountain ranges. For a premium road trip, drive Interstate 90 from east to west to take in natural wonders and roadside attractions.

Nearly 3 million people a year put Mount Rushmore National Memorial on their itinerary. The locals tell visitors that sunrise is a special time here. Mount Rushmore faces east, so the best light to take photos of the four U.S. presidents carved into the side of the mountain is in the early morning.

South Dakota has five other national parks – Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Missouri National Recreational River and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the Cold War.

Visitors will find fascinating places to learn about American Indian culture, Old West and pioneer history, and wildlife. The Crazy Horse Memorial, a mountain sculpture in progress in tribute to all Native Americans, draws crowds, as does Custer State Park, where visitors often spot bison, antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and more.

Find respite in one of the state’s many friendly cities. Find out why South Dakota natives say visitors must eat a doughnut from Wall Drug in the town of Wall. Retrace pioneer footsteps in Deadwood, browse for American Indian-made goods in Rapid City shops and visit the chic boutiques in Sioux Falls.

Home of the Perfect Road Trip
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Must see places

The faces of Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The faces of four U.S. presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln – gaze over the Black Hills in southwestern South Dakota on a mountainside sculpture that took 14 years and $1 million to complete.

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A hike through the Badlands

Badlands National Park

Among the stunning sharp buttes and gradient rocks at the 98,700-hectare Badlands National Park are fossil beds 25 to 35 million years old. Today, plants and wildlife thrive nearby in a mixed-grass prairie.

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Buffalo stopping traffic in Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Stay at a lodge resort, explore mountain ranges, tour a log cabin, fish for trout and take a scenic drive at the 28,733-hectare park, where an abundance of wildlife includes a free-roaming herd of 1,300 bison.

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A long view of historic Deadwood

Historic Deadwood

History comes alive during tours of the Wild West gold rush mountain town, where Calamity Jane is buried, and where Jack McCall gunned down Wild Bill Hickok in 1876 during a poker game in Saloon No. 10.

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Spearfish Canyon’s jagged streams

Spearfish Canyon

Take a leisurely 35-kilometer drive along Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, where the elevation changes nearly 610 meters from one end to the other. Stop along the way, maybe at Bridal Veil Falls, for breathtaking views.

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Old-fashioned gas station at Red Oak II village
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Destination

Carthage