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If you are a fan of the Old West, South Dakota has something for you. This Midwestern state encompasses an intriguing history, complete with roots in western heritage, American legacy, and Native American history.
No matter where you find yourself in South Dakota, you’re sure to have a full itinerary. Of course, the most popular site in the state is Mount Rushmore. Not far from there, you will find the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills National Forrest in the Badlands region of South Dakota. This impressive memorial acts as a tribute to the Native American heritage of the Midwest, and serves a wonderful camera-friendly attraction.
To brush up on your South Dakota history, spend your days exploring museums, cultural centers, and national parks – like the Badlands National Park and Wind Cave. For more historical sites in the Mount Rushmore State, head east to Mitchell for a look at the well-known Corn Palace, or a look at the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train set in Hill City.
Gracefully set in the beautiful South Dakota Badlands near Custer, the Crazy Horse Memorial honors the heritage of North American Indians – primarily the famed Oglal Lakota warrior known as Crazy Horse. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowki began the memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse in 1948, and is to become the world's largest sculpture at 87 feet high.
This work-in-progress memorial is being carved from Thunderhead Mountain and is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. While visiting the memorial, make time to stroll through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Cultural Center. Also schedule time to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located 17 miles from Crazy Horse.
Established in 1908, the Jewel Cave National Monument is located in the Black Hills National Forest in southwestern South Dakota. The world’s third longest cave, Jewel stretches over 160 miles – making the park cover 1,273 acres. Owned and operated by the National Park Service, Jewel Cave is open throughout the year near the city of Custer. Underground scenic, lantern, and spelunking tours are available, while surface activities include wildlife viewing and bird watching.
Drawing 60,000 annual visitors, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site focuses on the Cold War and arms race of the mid-1900s. Preserving the nation’s final Minuteman II ICBM system, the site is operated by the National Park Service. Recently established in 1999, the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center is open throughout the year – with limited hours in the winter and spring. Ranger-led tours are given of the launch control facility and Missile Silo – all located in Wall in southwestern South Dakota.
Commemorating the famous gold mining town of 1875, the Deadwood Historic District is a fun-filled historic park and neighborhood in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. The town became famous for the interesting people that passed through, helping it become placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.
Today, visitors stop in the quaint town of Deadwood to see some of the original buildings and to learn about its rich history. Be sure to visit the Saloon and Mount Moriah Cemetery, otherwise known as "Boot Hill", where Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok are buried.
Established in 1878, the Broken Boot Gold Mine is set in the historic city of Deadwood, serving as an ideal destination for an adventurous afternoon of cave and mine exploration. Open daily through the middle of September, tours depart every 30 minutes – kids four years old and under enter for free.
Originally known as Seim's Mine, Broken Boot offers a unique view into the Badland's historic gold mining past. Travel back through time – and underground – and see sites like Smallest Strope, check out the Homestake Tools, and take a peek at the Ventilation Shaft and Exploratory Tunnel.
Reopened in 1957, the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train is a refurbished vintage steam engine, now offering a fun way to see the beautiful Black Hills region of South Dakota. Step aboard the vintage steam train for a scenic two hour ride between Hill City and Keystone. Pick up a delicious snack or meal from the High-Liner Snack Shoppe to enjoy along the journey. Be sure to stroll through the South Dakota Railroad Museum, next to the depot in Hill City, to see the railroad memorabilia from 1872 and interactive exhibits.