Interesting facts about South Dakota

south dakota flag

South Dakota is a U.S. state in the Midwestern region of the United States.

It is is bordered by the states of North Dakota to the north, Minnesota to the east, Iowa to the southeast, Nebraska to the south, Wyoming to the west, and Montana to the northwest.

As of December 2018, the population of South Dakota was estimated to be about 900,000 people. It is the 46th most populous state in the United States.

South Dakota is the 17th largest state in the United States in terms of total area with 77,116 square kilometers (199,729 square miles).

Pierre is the state capital of South Dakota. With population about 14,000 it is the second-least populous state capital in the United States after Montpelier, Vermont.


The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as “East River” and “West River.”

South Dakota is comprised of four major land regions; the Drift Prairie, the Disected Till Plains, the Great Plains, and the Black Hills.

Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota. It lies in the Black Elk Wilderness area, in southern Pennington County, in the Black Hills National Forest. At 2,207 meters (7,242 feet) above sea level, it has been described by the Board on Geographical Names as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.

black elk peak

South Dakota has 6 national parks and 9 state parks.

Badlands National Park is an American national park located in southwestern South Dakota. The park protects 242,756 acres (98,239 hectares) of sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States.

badlands national park

As one of the best state and national parks in South Dakota, Custer State Park covers a wide range of different terrain, offering opportunities for outdoor recreation and sightseeing. A large herd of bison roams the peaceful landscape, which is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife. Granite peaks tower over the forests, lakes, and streams.

custer state park

Wind Cave National Park, located just north of Hot Springs, is home to a huge karstic cave system, thought to be among the largest in the world. It was discovered in 1881 by a hunter, who noticed a draft coming from a split in the rock. The cave contains a unique and delicate cave structure known as “boxwork,” which is found in few other places in the world.

wind cave national park

Mount Rushmore, also known as the President’s Mountain, is located in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 18-meter (60-foot) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It is is South Dakota’s most prominent tourist attraction.

mount rushmore

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills. It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The memorial was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, to be sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski. It is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

crazy horse memorial

The Corn Palace, commonly advertised as The World’s Only Corn Palace is a multi-purpose arena/facility located in Mitchell, South Dakota. The Moorish Revival building is decorated with crop art; the murals and designs covering the building are made from corn and other grains, and a new design is constructed each year. The Corn Palace is a popular tourist destination, visited by up to 500,000 people each year.

corn palace

Belle Fourche is the geographical center of the United States of America, designated in 1959 and noted by an official marker and sheepherder’s monument called a “Stone Johnnie”

belle fourche

Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory, an area that included most of South Dakota, from Napoleon Bonaparte, and President Thomas Jefferson organized a group commonly referred to as the “Lewis and Clark Expedition” to explore the region.

As the southern part of the former Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota.

south dakota map

Due to a controversy over which state would be admitted to the union first, President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the bills and signed one at random, with the order going unrecorded, though North Dakota is traditionally listed first.

The site of a rich gold strike in 1875, Deadwood retains its mining town atmosphere. While Deadwood is one of the most highly publicized mining towns of the trans-Mississippi West, much of its fame rests on the famous or infamous characters that passed through.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, generating one-third of the state’s overall economic activity. Although its main crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, South Dakota leads the nation in the production of bison and pheasants.