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Plan a Year of Adventure in South Dakota: 12 months of unique travel experiences

Photo provided by Travel South Dakota

With 2023 right around the corner, many travelers are already planning their trips for next year. In the “land of infinite variety,” there is always something new to discover. Use this list to help you navigate your way through South Dakota, where year-round adventure awaits.

January – Catch the “Big One” in Lake Oahe

Try your hand at ice fishing in Lake Oahe. Here, guides can help you land your own trophy-winning catch. Ice fishing enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Mobridge Ice Fishing Tournament which takes place in Pierre each January.

February – Stress-Free Skiing Near Deadwood

to South Dakota’s Terri Peak Ski Area for a great day on the slopes without the crowds. The mountain features a variety of terrain for all levels of skiers, a sizeable terrain park, and the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps.

March – Experience the World’s Only Corn Palace

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Spend an afternoon at a truly midwestern marvel. The Corn Palace in Mitchell is the world’s only castle of its kind. The building is decorated with 12 different colors of corn which are arranged into murals and designs that change each year. This is a can’t-miss Instagramable spot for anyone traveling to South Dakota.

April – Spot a Baby Bison

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Springtime in South Dakota means the arrival of adorable new residents at many of the national and state parks. This is a great time to get outdoors and observe baby buffalo, antelope, mountain goats, big horn sheep, and other wild locals in their natural habitat.

May – Hike to the Highest Peak in South Dakota

Strap on your hiking boots and hit the trail at Black Elk Peak. At 7,242 feet, Black Elk Peak is not only the state’s highest peak, but also the highest elevation between the Rocky Mountains in the western United States and the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Hikers of all ages make their ascent to take in gorgeous views of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. 

June – Cruise Through South Dakota’s Tribal Cultures

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Take in the gorgeous South Dakota landscapes, tribal history, and rich culture by road-tripping across the Native American Scenic Byway. This route takes travelers through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. Also, 2023 marks the 75th year anniversary of the Crazy Horse monument. This monument, which is still being constructed, honors the Lakota leader who bravely defended the Lakota people’s way of life.

July – Have a Stellar Time in Badlands National Park

Did you know 80% of Americans can’t see the stars where they live? Experience the awe-inspiring cosmos in Badlands National Park, where minimal light pollution offers stargazers a front-seat view of the heavens. Add the Badlands Astronomy Festival to your calendar to learn more about outer space from scientists, astronomers, educators, and more.

August – “Seeds” the Day at a Sunflower Farm

South Dakota consistently ranks as one of the world’s top sunflower producers. Catch the brilliant blossoms before they’re gone. Sunflowers typically bloom in late July or early August and last for approximately 30 days.

September – Bring Your Herd to the Buffalo Roundup

Once a year, you can see a herd of 1,400 bison thunder through Custer State Park. The annual Buffalo Roundup, taking place on the last Friday of September, is a thrilling display of true Wild West tradition. Look on as real cowboys and cowgirls drive over a thousand bison to their next area of rangeland.

October – Observe Natural Beauty from Above

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Enjoy the changing fall colors from a different perspective. Take a hot air balloon ride in the southern Black Hills’ Custer State Park, just miles from Mount Rushmore, to view autumnal foliage and local wildlife from the sky.

November – Set Your Sights on Pheasant Country

Whether you’re a first-time hunter or an expert marksman, South Dakota is the ultimate destination for pheasant hunting. The state’s mix of cropland and prairie creates the ideal habitat for the birds and bountiful opportunities for hunters.

December Add Some Adrenaline to Your Wish List

Visit the city of Spearfish to climb aboard a powerful snowmobile and dash over 350 miles of trails in the Black Hills National Forest. Adventurers ride through snowy pine forests and deep into canyons that lead to lookouts, meadows, and play areas with top-notch powder-floating giving, the Black Hills its national prominence for this winter sport.