Northeast of Wyoming is the somewhat smaller state of South Dakota. Like North Dakota, this state owes its name to the Lakota Indians who lived here. The state is also known as Mount Rushmore state. According to deluxesurveillance, South Dakota is the 40th state of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Dakota, to the west by Wyoming and Montana, to the east by Iowa and Minnesota, and to the south by Nebraska. The state capital is Pierre and the largest city is Sioux Falls.
South Dakota is bisected by the Missouri River. This separation is clearly noticeable on several levels. You have East River and West River ‘residents’ in South Dakota. The West River bank is sparsely populated and the residents are seen as conservative. The soil here is quite dry and the economy therefore revolves around ranching, raising livestock for meat and fur.
The east is densely populated, the people are moderately conservative, and the economy is based on farming, which involves producing food such as grain or sunflowers. With less than 800,000 inhabitants, South Dakota is very sparsely populated by American standards; fewer people live in only 4 states of the US. The time zones are also different in East and West. The west of the state is in the Mountain time zone and the east of the state is in the Central time zone.
According to electronicsmatter, the landscape of eastern South Dakota is completely different from the west. To the west are the Black Hills and the Badlands. These badlands consist of mountainous area with deep gorges and prairie land has been a National Park since 1978. The dry landscape is a real treasure trove for archaeologists. Hundreds of fossils have been well preserved here for thousands of years.
While the west is very hilly, the east of South Dakota is flat. There are glacial lakes, which were formed during the last Ice Age, swamps and prairies. The southeast is characterized by the large number of rivers that flow there. The Missouri River with many branches supplies the area with water and makes the soil very fertile.
In the southwest of South Dakota is the Badlands National Park. This area, consisting of dry grassland interspersed with ‘buttes’, remote rock formations that suddenly seem to shoot out of the ground, is one of the showpieces of the American National Parks. The name ‘butte’ means small hill and has French origins. They are formed by strong erosion. The top of a butte is flat.
The Badlands is home to one of the largest protected grass prairies in the US. In addition to flora, the Badlands are also a refuge for endangered animals such as the black-footed ferret. This animal was released here with the hope of increasing the population.
If Jurassic Park is your all-time favorite, the Badlands are a must-see for you! Fossils dating back millions of years have been found in the Badlands. It is the world’s largest area of finds from the Oligocene epoch, some 25 million years ago. For archaeologists, this place is sacred because the evolution of many animals can be found here. Numerous prehistoric animals such as the Hyaenodon a type of hyena, the feline Hlophoneus and the rhinoceros-like Subhyracodon have been found here.
Man took up residence here more than 11,000 years ago. Lakota Indians, Arikara people and Paleo-Indians called the Badlands their home for centuries. 150 years ago, fate took a dramatic turn; the Americans took the area and drove out the Indians.
‘Wanna see something out of the ordinary?’ Something that will stay with you for a lifetime? Then the De Black Hills are the place for you! These ‘hills’ are foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The landscape consists of small mountains covered with granite and covered by a blanket of pine trees. With deep canyons, beautiful lakes and diverse wildlife, this is one of South Dakota’s hot spots. The highest peak is called Harney Peak and is located at 2200 meters.
The Black Hills have several attractions. Harney Peak is the highest peak in the US east of the Rocky Mountains. What has made the Black Hills known worldwide are the important raw materials that have been mined here for years. You will find copper, silver and gold here. The Homestake Mine was the deepest gold mine in the Black Hills until it closed in 2002. Since 2007, it has been selected as an underground laboratory for geological, biological and other research.
The most famous attraction and an absolute must when in South Dakota is Mount Rushmore. Not only is it an impressive building, but it also tells a rich, bloody history. Carved from the granite are four life-size statues of the first four US presidents. From left to right you see George Washington, the first US president followed by Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
The carving of the monument started in 1927 and took more than 15 years. These four presidents represent the first 150 years of the American republic and all four have played an important role in preserving or expanding the republic. This work of art features in countless images and in Hollywood films.
If you know the history of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse is inevitably your next stop in the Black Hills. This is an important monument to the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area. The Native Americans believe that the mountains of the Black Hills are sacred and belong to them. The Crazy Horse is a response to Mount Rushmore, which depicts the colonization of their land.
The Crazy Horse monument was specially erected for a well-known leader of the Indians: Ogala Lakota. It depicts Oglala Lakota on a horse, pointing a finger into the distance. The construction of this monument has been going on since 1948, but it is still not finished.
Wind Cave National Park
Are you in southern South Dakota and do you like a fresh breeze? Then Wind Cave is the place to be! The Lakota Indians already talked about a cave from which the wind blew. They saw this cave as sacred ground from which humans originated and where they lived before the earth came into existence. This opening in the ground was discovered by an American couple at the end of the 19th century. According to them, the wind was blowing so hard that when they looked into the hole, their hats were blown off.
The scientific explanation of this natural wonder is fascinating. No sacred forces or spirits blowing the wind out, but it is a purely physical process. What actually happens is that the wind is moved by atmospheric pressure in the cave. When the pressure outside the cave is higher than inside the cave, the wind enters through the holes in the ground. Once the pressure is higher in the cave than outside, the wind blows out again, as it were.
Above the cave, the only natural mixed grass prairie in the US is protected within the boundaries of the National Park. The eco-system is diverse which is why it makes Wind Cave a highly recommended visit. You will find moose, bison and antelope here. Explore and take one of the many hiking trails that run through the park. Wind Cave has no less than 48 kilometers of hiking trails. Enjoy!
Jewel Cave National Park
True to its name, Jewel Cave National Park is truly a jewel of the Black Hills. The jewel cave is the second longest cave in the world and is located in the middle of this National Park. The cave was discovered in 1900 when air was felt coming from an opening in one of the canyons of the Black Hills. The opening was too narrow for a human to enter, so it is not clear whether the cave was known to the ancient inhabitants of the Black Hills.
The opening of the cave was blown open using dynamite and once you could enter you found beautiful calcite crystals. Rumors of this great find reached then-President Roosevelt. He named the cave and the surroundings of the cave a National Park.
Since the 1970s, the park’s service has laid out paths and staircases so that everyone can admire these breathtakingly beautiful caves for themselves. In total there are 225 kilometers of trails. So if you are not claustrophobic and if you want to admire this underground splendor up close, then Jewel Cave National Park is highly recommended.