Visit South Dakota, Great Plains with Mighway

Rent an RV in South Dakota

Take a step back into America's Old West by visiting South Dakota. You will be amazed by the striking South Dakota landscape of buttes, canyons and the majestic Missouri River. Your visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial that features presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum chose those four men because to him, they represented the “birth, growth, development and preservation of this country”. The monument is open 365 days a year, features a museum and walking trails, and is surrounded by great RV parks and hotels. After Mount Rushmore, travel to other great Western destinations by RVing on the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway to explore the stunning South Dakota landscape. Stop at the 244,000 acre Badlands National Park to explore skeletons of saber tooth cats and other prehistoric remains. It’s a great place for camping and hiking, too. You won’t want to miss the beautiful Crazy Horse Memorial, begun in 1948 and currently under construction for completion. The mountain carving is a tribute to the famed Lakota leader. Learn more about the Native American history of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux tribes in pine forested mountains of the state’s southwestern Black Hills region. Take a trip back to the 19th century with a visit to the town of Deadwood for a glimpse into what this gold rush town was like in the days of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. There are so many other great places to visit in South Dakota, like the 71,000-acre Custer State Park with its bison, elk and antelope herds, or the Jewel Cave National Monument, which is the third-longest cave in the world. There are very few unspoiled and untamed wilderness areas left in America, and South Dakota’s picturesque beauty is a stunning reminder of what this great land was and is today.

Places to Visit near South Dakota

Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial

Sure, Mount Rushmore is impressive, but a mere 15 miles away, an even more impressive monument is in the works...and has been for 66 years. When completed, it's slated to be the world's biggest sculpture; but it's far from being finished. When the statue, which depicts Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, is done, it'll stand 563 feet tall and 641 feet wide. His head alone is 87 feet-- for comparison, the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore are only 60 feet. But what's taking so long to carve it? That may have something to do with the fact that the statue, funded by a not-for-profit organization, is being carefully planned and carved by one family, essentially. It all began way back in 1939, when Lakota elder Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, who had helped to carve Mount Rushmore in the 20's, asking him to help with a project to memorialize Crazy Horse. Ziolkowski agreed, and the two began to scout for a location. Despite the fact that the rock in the Tetons of Wyoming was better for carving, they settled on a location in the Black Hills, which are sacred to the Lakota. Construction began in 1948, and Ziolkowski chipped away the the mountain until his death in 1982. After that, his widow Ruth and 7 of his kids took over, slightly altering some of the original plans-- for example, Ruth decided that the face should be completed first, hoping that it would attract more tourists. In 1998, the face was completed and dedicated. In 2009, work stopped for two years of detailed measuring and planning, and recommenced in 2011. Sadly, Ruth passed away in May, but the work continues.  Once fully completed, the Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial will be only one aspect of a cultural/educational center, complete with University of South Dakota satellite campus. In the meantime, people are still encouraged to come to the visitor's center and to check out the gradual progress being made on the statue. Days when big blasts are scheduled are often big events as well, with thousands flocking to the site to watch the clock count down and the ensuing explosion. The project isn't without controversy, though. Crazy Horse purposefully avoided having his picture taken, and made sure that no one knew the location of his grave, so the idea of making a ginormous statue of him has rustled some feathers. Others have taken issue with the fact that the natural beauty of the mountain is being ruined with a man-made sculpture. Either way, the memorial will definitely draw attention to and hopefully educate people on the Lakota culture...if it's ever completed.

Badlands National Park

People are drawn to the rugged beauty of the Badlands National Park. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires surrounded by a mixed-grass prairie ecosystem. The mixed grass prairie is a transitional zone between the tall-grass prairie to the east and the short-grass prairie to the west. Learn about the numerous plants and animals that thrive here. The Badlands were formed by the geologic forces of deposition and erosion. Deposition of sediments began 69 million years ago when an ancient sea stretched across what is now the Great Plains. After the sea retreated, successive land environments, including rivers and flood plains, continued to deposit sediments. Although the major period of deposition ended 28 million years ago, significant erosion of the Badlands did not begin until a mere half a million years ago. Erosion continues to carve the Badlands buttes today. Eventually, the Badlands will completely erode away. One of the most complete fossil accumulations in North America is found within the park. The rocks and fossils preserve evidence of ancient ecosystems and give scientists clues about how early mammal species lived. 25% of Badlands National Park is a designated wilderness area. Established in 1976, the Badlands Wilderness Area consists of 64,144 acres of the largest prairie wilderness in the United States. Administered in two units, Sage Creek and Conata Basin, the area is open for backpacking and exploration. Filming location for both Dances with Wolves and Armageddon. 

Mount Rushmore

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level. South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region.  Robinson's initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from environmentalists and Native American groups. They settled on the Mount Rushmore location, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud and Buffalo Bill Cody but Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the mountain. After securing federal funding, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum's death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over construction. Although the initial concept called for each president to be depicted from head to waist, lack of funding forced construction to end in late October 1941. The U.S. National Park Service took control of the memorial in 1933, while it was still under construction, and has managed the memorial to the present day. It attracts nearly three million people annually. National Treasure 2 might have been a complete fabrication of American history, but Nicolas Cage was right about one thing: there's a secret room hidden away in Keystone, South Dakota's Mount Rushmore.. and it's filled with awesome stuff! 

The Mammoth Site

The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota, is the world’s largest mammoth research facility. You can tour an active paleontological dig site and view Ice Age fossils exhibited as they are found. Open year round, the Mammoth Site offers the museum visitor a 30-minute guided tour plus a 10-minute video. Tour information features the Mammoth Site and Ice Age geology, paleontology, and paleoecology. Today, visitors to the museum observe first-hand a scientific excavation. During the month of July, Earthwatch volunteers, under the direction of Dr. Larry Agenbroad, excavate, identify and study the Ice Age fossils.

Campgrounds and RV Parks near South Dakota

Sylvan Lake

Perfect place to kick back and day dream

Sylvan Lake, known as the "crown jewel" of Custer State Park, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Created in 1881 when Theodore Reder built a dam across Sunday Gulch, it offers picnic areas, rock climbing, small rental boats, swimming, and hiking trails. It is also popular as a starting point for excursions to Harney Peak and The Needles. A hotel was operated on the shore of the lake in the early 20th century.

Visit Sylvan Lake

Cedar Pass Lodge Campground

shaded spots and full hooks up

Welcome to the Cedar Pass Campground. We're open year-round and located near Cedar Pass Lodge - convenient for a hot meal at the Cedar Pass Restaurant. Or pick up camping supplies, groceries or Badlands souvenirs at the nearby gift shop. The campground features shaded picnic tables at each campsite, electric service for RV sites, and group sites with advanced reservations. Reserve your campsites online or call us at (605) 433-5460 for more information and reservations.

Visit Cedar Pass Lodge Campground

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