South Dakota, Coyote State, is the 19th largest state in the United States and is bordered by North Dakota to the north, Minnesota and Iowa to the east, Nebraska to the south, and Wyoming and Montana to the east. The Missouri River forms part of the southeastern border.

The capital is Pierre with around 13,000 residents, the largest city Sioux Falls with over 150,000 residents. Rapid City has around 70,000 residents.

South Dakota State Bird and Flower

Largest Counties in South Dakota by Area

According to Countryaah, the biggest counties in South Dakota are listed as below:

Ranking County Area
1 Meade County 8,990 km2
2 Perkins County 7,438 km2
3 Pennington County 7,190 km2
4 Harding County 6,918 km2
5 Corson County 6,405 km2
6 Dewey County 5,965 km2
7 Butte County 5,825 km2
8 Oglala Lakota County 5,423 km2
9 Ziebach County 5,082 km2
10 Jackson County 4,841 km2
11 Haakon County 4,696 km2
12 Fall River County 4,507 km2
13 Brown County 4,437 km2
14 Lyman County 4,248 km2
15 Tripp County 4,180 km2
16 Custer County 4,035 km2
17 Spink County 3,895 km2
18 Stanley County 3,737 km2
19 Hand County 3,722 km2
20 Todd County 3,595 km2
21 Mellette County 3,385 km2
22 Beadle County 3,261 km2
23 Bennett County 3,069 km2
24 Edmunds County 2,968 km2
25 McPherson County 2,945 km2
26 Roberts County 2,852 km2
27 Charles Mix County 2,844 km2
28 Day County 2,665 km2
29 Gregory County 2,631 km2
30 Sully County 2,608 km2
31 Faulk County 2,590 km2
32 Jones County 2,515 km2
33 Clark County 2,481 km2
34 Potter County 2,243 km2
35 Hyde County 2,230 km2
36 Marshall County 2,173 km2
37 Kingsbury County 2,170 km2
38 Brule County 2,121 km2
39 Hutchinson County 2,106 km2
40 Minnehaha County 2,095 km2
41 Lawrence County 2,072 km2
42 Brookings County 2,056 km2
43 Hughes County 1,919 km2
44 Campbell County 1,906 km2
45 Aurora County 1,834 km2
46 Walworth County 1,834 km2
47 Codington County 1,782 km2
48 Grant County 1,766 km2
49 Deuel County 1,616 km2
50 Turner County 1,598 km2
51 Lincoln County 1,497 km2
52 McCook County 1,489 km2
53 Miner County 1,476 km2
54 Sanborn County 1,474 km2
55 Bon Homme County 1,458 km2
56 Lake County 1,458 km2
57 Jerauld County 1,373 km2
58 Yankton County 1,352 km2
59 Moody County 1,347 km2
60 Hamlin County 1,323 km2
61 Buffalo County 1,220 km2
62 Union County 1,191 km2
63 Davison County 1,129 km2
64 Hanson County 1,127 km2
65 Douglas County 1,124 km2
66 Clay County 1,067 km2

Main sights in South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The Mount Rushmore is the greatest attraction of the Black Hills, the “national shrine of democracy”, oversized heads carved into the granite of four US presidents: George Washington as the father of the nation, Thomas Jefferson as the spiritual father of the American constitution, Abraham Lincoln as the unifier of the nation and Liberator of Slaves after the Civil War and Theodore Roosevelt as Guardian of the Public Interest. The sculptor Gutson Borglum spent the last fourteen years of his life carving them out of the granite of Mount Rushmore: from 1927 to 1941 he worked on the busts, which could not be fully completed. But even so, the faces are “colossal”: the east-facing eyes measure 6 meters in width, the faces from the forehead to the chin are 18 meters. A modern visitor center shows films and exhibitions about the construction and planning of the monument. In the nearby Keystone, Borglum’s drawings, models and his tools can be admired, some of which he developed for this work.

Park Headquarters
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
PO Box 268
Keystone, SD 57751
Tel. 605-574-2523
Open mid-May-mid-Sept daily 8.00-22.00, otherwise 8.00-17.00

Badlands National Park
Torn and fissured rock and prairies await the visitor.

Hot Springs Mammoth Site
In the south of the Black Hills lies Hot Springs, where various mammoth skeletons were found during excavation work on a prehistoric pond. There are a number of fascinating exhibitions in the associated, 1,800 square meter visitor center. About 26,000 years ago, the fossil site was the edge of a 25 m deep, steep-walled sinkhole filled with artesian rising thermal water, which was particularly popular with the mammoths living here during the Ice Age because of the lush vegetation. Many of these heavy, up to 4 m tall animals have slipped on the slippery bank or sunk in the soft ground and perished. In the meantime, the fossilized skeletons of about four dozen Columbus mammoths have been uncovered. In addition to mammoth bones, the remains of other inhabitants of the Ice Age tundra and steppe landscape have also been found. The exhibition, which deals with the geological period of the Quaternary and the development of life in North America over the past two million years, has been arranged around the site. Open mid May-Aug. daily 8.00-20.00, April-mid-May and Sept./Oct. 9.00-17.00

Custer State Park
A state park with the qualities of a national park.

Crazy Horse Memorial
The rock sculpture of the Crazy Horse Memorial is still awaiting completion. In 1939 Sioux Chief Henry Standing Bear invited the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve a monument for the Indian nation based on the model of the presidential sculpture of Mount Rushmore out of the rocks of the Black Hills in order to “let the white man know that the red man too Hero has “. Ziolkowski died in 1982, while the preparatory work was still being carried out on the three-dimensional figure, 170 m high and 194 m long, intended to represent Sioux chief Crazy Horse on a wild horse. His family continues the work based on the plans they left behind. The complex includes the Indian Museum of North America, where around 20,000 artifacts are on display. The sculptor’s studio is also open to the public. Daily from 6.
Crazy Horse Memorial
Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD 57730-9506
Tel. 605-673-4681, Fax 605-673-2185

Wind Cave National Park
This is the interface between the prairie and the wooded mountains. Colonies of prairie dogs as well as antelopes, elk and buffalo have their home in the park. The cave, which gave the national park its name, is the sixth longest in the world, has a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius and is best known for the rare, honeycomb-like rock formations that cover the walls. A whistling wind blows in the cave, especially when the weather changes. Various cave tours with a duration of 1 to 4 hours take place from the visitor center. Longer cave tours are only available in summer, short tours all year round.

Wind Cave National Park, RR 1
Box 190-WCNP
Hot Springs, SD 57747-9430
Tel. 605-745-4600

Black Hills National Forest
The Black Hills are a green low mountain range in the middle of a wide and barren prairie on the state border of South Dakota and Wyoming. The highest point is Harney Peak at 2,207 meters. The Black Hills National Forest has 30 campsites, 26 picnic areas, 2 scenic byways and 450 miles of hiking trails. Parking in the National Forest is chargeable from May to September.

Deadwood was one of the wildest Gold Rush towns, and still basks – or again – on that reputation. After gold was found here in 1876, barely a year later more than 6,000 gold prospectors were active and 25,000 people lived here. Western legends like Wild Bill Hickock aka James Butler – spy, scout, coach driver, sheriff and gambler – and Calamity Jane aka Canary Burke – prostitute, nurse and Wild West show star died here. Both are buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery. In recent times the place has built on its gambling time. In 1989 a committee achieved that gambling was legalized again. Today there are around 80 “historical” spy halls and attract tourists. From Memorial Day Wild West Shootouts take place every half hour as so-called reenactments in Historic Deadwood from 1 p.m. until Labor Day.

Spearfish Canyon
The scenic US Hwy 14A passes through Spearfish Canyon with palisade-like rock formations, waterfalls and picnic areas.

In an open-air amphitheater, passion plays, the Black Hills Passion Play, were performed annually in the summer months for 70 years. In 2008 the performances ended. The Spearfish Amphitheater’s Visitor Center shows the history of the festival in a museum, there is also a guided backstage and museum tour.