Top 10 Landmarks in South Dakota

Last updated on May 25th, 2021 at 08:18 am. Originally published on May 19th, 2021

What is a Landmark?

From historical sites to giant rock carvings to massive underground caves, South Dakota has a variety of popular U.S. landmarks. RVing through the state is a great way to explore these natural and man made famous landmarks, and we’ve rounded up some of the most popular for you to explore.

What are some famous landmarks in South Dakota?

1. Mount Rushmore

2. Badlands National Park

3. Crazy Horse Memorial

4. Jewel Cave National Monument

5. Custer State Park

6. Wind Cave National Park

7. Mammoth Site

8. Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark

9. Deadwood

10. Good Earth State Park

South Dakota Landmarks

Here are 10 great South Dakota landmarks to visit when you travel to this state.

1. Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is one of South Dakota’s most recognizable landmarks. Named a national monument in 1925, it features the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln carved into the side of granite cliffs. Over 2 million people visit this landmark each year to view the massive carving. If you’re visiting, stop by the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and walk the 0.6-mile Presidential Trail to see the monument up close.

Things to do near Mount Rushmore: Mount Rushmore is near Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park if you’d like to explore the outdoors. It’s also an easy trip to see the Crazy Horse Memorial.

2. Badlands National Park

Located just a few miles east of Black Hills National Forest, Badlands National Park is 370 square miles of unique and iconic landscape. The buttes, hills, and pinnacles are fantastic for hiking, bicycling, and backcountry camping. For those who want to take it easy, the Badlands Loop Road will take visitors through the scenic park from the comfort of their cars. Buffalo Gap National Grassland is another area of the park and one of the last remaining intact prairie landscapes in America. There’s even a free roaming bison herd within the park, which can often be seen while visiting.

Things to do near Badlands National Park: Right outside the park are the towns of of Wall, Interior, and Scenic. Rapid City is just an hour northwest, and Mount Rushmore is about an hour away as well. If you need an RV, we’re got you covered with local rentals.

3. Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial, located north of Custer in the Black Hills, has been in progress since 1947. It’s currently the largest mountain carving in progress in the world! So far the head and upper body of Lakota leader Crazy Horse have been carved into the mountain, and visitors can both see the carving and stop in the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Education & Cultural Center to learn more about the Native American culture and traditions. The Welcome Center offers bus rides to the base of the mountain and van rides to the top if you want an up-close look. There are also art galleries and a restaurant on the campus.

Things to do near Crazy Horse Memorial: Visiting Crazy Horse Memorial puts you nearby Badlands National Forest, Mount Rushmore, and Custer State Park.

4. Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument is home to Jewel Cave – the third longest cave in the world. This cave has over 200 miles of passageways that have been mapped and surveyed, and visitors can take guided tours to explore some of them. Jewel Cave is run by the National Park Service and they offer guided tours of the cave. If you’re a fan of staying above the ground, there are surface hiking trails that go through Black Hills National Forest.

Things to do near Jewel Cave National Monument: Located just west of the city of Custer, you’ll also be near Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and Black Hills National Forest.

5. Custer State Park

South of Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore is Custer State Park. This park is the first and largest state park in South Dakota and a fantastic place to visit to see the wide array of different terrain. Granite peaks, forests, lakes, and streams are all present in this one state park. There’s even a heard of roaming bison! There’s plenty to do for visitors including driving the scenic drives on Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, as well as hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.

Things to do near Custer State Park: You’re close to many of the landmarks we’ve mentioned already in western South Dakota, including Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. Here are some great local RV rentals to check out.

6. Wind Cave National Park

Bison in the Grasslands, Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA

One of the first national parks to be established, Wind Cave National Park in southwestern South Dakota is one of the largest caves in the world. Not only is it long and complex, but the cave system also contains a unique formation called “boxwork” which is rarely found throughout the world. Visitors can take one of the several guided tours through the cave led by Park Rangers, or can explore the beautiful prairie lands above ground, which is the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the US.

Things to do near Wind Cave National Park: The national park is located north of Hot Springs South Dakota, and to the south of other popular landmarks Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore.

7. Mammoth Site

Ever wanted to see real mammoth bones? The Mammoth Site is an actual dig site and museum located in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Over 60 mammoth remains have been discovered here! This active excavation site houses a museum with self-guided tours and paleontology educational programs. Visitors can view mammoth remains and get an up-close look at the dig site. They also host classes and learning activities for kids.

Things to do near Mammoth Site: Explore the rest of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Wind Cave National Park is also nearby if you’d like to visit a national park.

8. Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark

Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark is the location of the 1890 massacre of as many as 300 Lakota people. The site is a monument and graveyard of those killed in the massacre. Located to the north in Wall, South Dakota, is Wounded Knee The Museum, a small but informative museum that preserves the memory of the victims and teaches visitors about the event.

Things to do near Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark: Wounded Knee is just over an hour east of Hot Springs, South Dakota and Wind Cave National Park.

9. Deadwood

Visit the wild west in the historic district of Deadwood. This quaint town is surrounded by the Black Hills and had its peak during the Black Hills Gold Rush era. Many of the buildings in the historic district date back to the 1800s, and plenty of wild west activities are waiting to be enjoyed by visitors, including mine tours, reenacted shootouts, and the Mount Moriah Cemetery with the graves of “Wild Bill” Hickok, Calamity Jane and other notable figures of the west.

Things to do near Deadwood: Deadwood is in the northern part of Black Hills National Forest, and not too far from Rapid City, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore.

10. Good Earth State Park

Good Earth State Park is one of the newer state parks in South Dakota. It’s part of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark and is one of the oldest areas of human history in the United States. The visitor’s center teaches about the history and culture of the area. There are also trails that run to the Big Sioux River and are great for hiking, biking, and bird watching.

Things to do near Good Earth State Park: Good Earth State Park is located just outside Sioux Falls. We’ve got a local’s guide to help you decide what to do, and have some great local RV rentals as well.

Planning an RV trip to South Dakota

An RV trip is an excellent way to tour the variety of landmarks in South Dakota, and we’ve got all the resources you need to plan a perfect vacation.

Here are guides to some of the best state parks in South Dakota, as well as all the national parks in the country. And as always, we’re here to help when it comes to finding the best campgrounds and RV rentals.

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