The Great 8 of Southeast South Dakota
April 4th, 2018 By Cindy Mason
1 - Lewis & Clark Lake / Missouri National Recreational River - Yankton:
There are endless outdoor recreational opportunities on Lewis and Clark Lake - boating, water skiing and tubing, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, swimming as well as picturesque chalkstone bluffs. Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, the region’s largest and most popular park, is located on the shores of scenic Lewis and Clark Lake. It offers camping, multiple hiking and biking trails, horse camp and trails, marina, resort, restaurant, fishing piers, archery range and much more.
Lewis and Clark Lake is formed by the Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River. On each end of the lake are two free flowing sections of the Missouri River that have been designated as a National Park. The Missouri National Recreational River is comprised of almost 100 miles of meandering scenic river popular for boating, fishing and canoeing/kayaking.
The Lewis and Clark Visitor Center offers an amazing scenic views as well as exhibits about the natural history of the river and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The annual Riverboat Days & Summer Arts Festival at Yankton is held on the banks of the Missouri River in August.
2 - The World’s Only Corn Palace - Mitchell:
The Corn Palace in Mitchell is a uniquely American folk art icon on the rolling prairies of South Dakota. It is decorated annually with murals made of corn, native grasses and other grains to showcase a new theme. It has been newly renovated with light-up domes, Oscar Howe showcase and agricultural exhibits. The Corn Palace hosts concerts, sports events and exhibits throughout the year. The Corn Palace Festival, held in August, is one of South Dakota’s longest running events, celebrating the redecoration of the Corn Palace. The event features the best names in entertainment, carnival rides, exhibits and food vendors.
3 - Falls Park - Sioux Falls:
Falls Park is located just north of downtown Sioux Falls. The park covers 123 acres and an average of 7,400 gallons of water drops 100 feet over the course of the Falls each second. It includes a visitor information center, five-story observation tower and trails that wind through the park. Several historic buildings made of Sioux Quartzite are located in the park. Falls Overlook Cafe is in the 1908 Sioux Falls Light and Power Company building. An 1800’s horse barn, thought to have housed horses working in the stone quarries, is now the Stockyards Ag Experience which tells the story of agricultural impact in this region. The Queen Bee Mill, built of Sioux Quartzite quarried on site, now lies in ruins near the Big Sioux River that flows through the park.
4 - Palisades State Park - Garretson:
Palisades State Park is one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Four trails twist and turn through the quartzite formations. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. A challenging climb on towering Sioux quartzite spires and sheer cliff walls await the more adventurous visitor to the park. The park is also perfect for campers and kayakers/canoers.
Nearby at Devil's Gulch is a footbridge spanning the chasm that legend claims Jesse James' horse jumped to escape a posse.
5 - Historic Prairie Village - Madison
Located 2 miles west of Madison, on the shores of Lake Herman and situated on 120 acres, Prairie Village features more than 40 antique-filled buildings, reliving the days of an active turn-of-the-century main street. Visit the Lawrence Welk Opera House, sod and log houses, country school, churches and one of the last remaining chapel railroad cars, the “Emmanuel”. Ride the authentic 100+ year old steam-powered carousel. See agricultural displays, steam tractors, sawmill and much more. Prairie Village hosts many events throughout the year including the Steam Threshing Jamboree, held in August.
6 - Good Earth State Park at Blood Run - near Sioux Falls
South Dakota’s newest state park, Good Earth at Blood Run is National Historic Landmark. The more than 800-acre site spans the Big Sioux River between the southeastern outskirts of Sioux Falls and the northwest corner of Iowa. It is one of the oldest known sites of habitation in the United States.
A new 11,000 square foot visitor center opened to the public in May 2017 which features exhibits and programming focused on the cultural and historical significance of the Blood Run site. The site is a time capsule of Indigenous culture. Occupants were primarily Oneota Indigenous Peoples, including Omaha, Ioway, Oto and Yankton Sioux Tribes.
Good Earth State Park has six miles of trails through prairie, woodland and river bottom with scenic viewing decks along the trails.
7 - Wine & Brew Trail of Eastern South Dakota
Whether your taste is for hand-crafted beer or locally produced wines, eastern South Dakota has it all. You'll find some of the best wines, brews and spirits you'll ever have the pleasure of sipping. This is a self-guided driving trail to be enjoyed at your leisure.
Wineries offer tours, wine tasting and special events throughout the year.
Fall is the perfect time to follow the trail to Harvest Festivals and Grape Stomps at local wineries.
The craft beer scene in South Dakota is spreading quickly throughout the state. You'll find breweries, brewpubs and more. Some offer tours.
Find a listing of the unique wineries and breweries on the trail here.
8 - Spirit Mound Historic Prairie - Vermillion
Stand where Lewis and Clark stood 200 years ago, by taking the three-quarter mile trail to the summit of Spirit Mound. The view is sure to spark your own adventurous spirit. Interpretive signs along the trail transform the hike into a memorable learning experience.
Over 300 acres of prairie are being restored to original prairie grasses and wildflowers. The prairie is home to Fritillary butterflies, birds and many other prairie animals.