Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

The <strong>Dakotas</strong>

The Dakotas

South Dakota - South Dakota

With the vast grass prairie of the Great Plains, the untamed rocky wilderness of the Badlands and the memorable landscapes and monuments of the Black Hills, the Dakotas offer visitors a fascinating glimpse of the more rugged and rustic side of the Mid West. We designed this special circular US road trip from Rapid City to show you the very best of the Dakotas.

The Dakotas

Stop 1: City of Presidents 1/12

City of Presidents

Before you set off, discover an amazing series of more than 40 life-size statues of US Presidents while browsing the boutiques, galleries and restaurants of Main Street and St Joseph Street in downtown Rapid City. All the US Presidents are represented by these historic figures, which were created by local artists and placed on every corner across this ‘City of Presidents’ district.

5th St. & Main St., Rapid City, SD

https://www.downtownrapidcity.com/city-of-presidents

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The Dakotas

Stop 2: Art Alley 2/12

Art Alley

Near the City of Presidents in downtown Rapid City, there’s a chance to experience art of a very different kind. Step into Art Alley between 6th and 7th Streets to find a long walkway where anyone (with a permit) can paint anything. The result is a crazy vibrant mix of ever-changing graffiti and public art lining a free walkway through the city centre. It has become one of the city’s most popular attractions.

between 6th and 7th, and Main and Saint Joseph Streets, Rapid City, SD

https://downtownrapidcity.com/visit/art-alley

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The Dakotas

Stop 3: Badlands National Park 3/12

Badlands National Park

Southwest Dakota’s Badlands National Park contains some of America’s most extraordinary landscapes. This must-see attraction is a mix of strangely shaped eroded rock formations amid the biggest original mixed grass prairie in the US. It’s a huge wilderness area to explore, so set off on a memorable hike or simply drive the scenic road loop through the park. Learn more at the Visitor Centre and keep a look out for the black-footed ferret, the continent’s rarest mammal.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm

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The Dakotas

Stop 4: Buffalo Interpretative Center 4/12

Buffalo Interpretative Center

Once huge buffalo herds and Native American hunters roamed freely across these ancient grasslands along the Missouri River. Visit this acclaimed centre to learn the fascinating story of how the Sioux tribe and the buffalo lived together. The centre stands on the Lower Brule Sioux reservation and overlooks the tribe’s remaining buffalo herd grazing on classic prairie pasture. It’s also a chance to meet tribe members and buy unique native artefacts. (Image credit: Rolf Blauert)

Highway 1806, Lower Brule, SD 57532

http://www.lewisandclarktrail.com/section2/sdcities/pierre/buffalo.htm

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The Dakotas

Stop 5: Fort Pierre Chouteau 5/12

Fort Pierre Chouteau

Further along the Missouri River there’s an opportunity to visit the historic site of one of the most important trading posts between settlers and Native Americans on the Great Plains. Fort Pierre Chouteau was originally a fur trading outpost that became a US military stronghold in the 19th century. Nothing remains of those fort buildings but the inspiring site is marked by a monument that recognises its significance as a National Historic Landmark.

Fort Chouteau Road, Fort Pierre, SD 57532

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/pierre_fortpierre/fort_pierre_chouteau_site.html

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The Dakotas

Stop 6: Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park 6/12

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

As well as boasting scenic hiking trails with views of the majestic Missouri river, Fort Abraham Lincoln is a must-see stop for those with an interest in Native American history and culture. It was here that the legendary General Custer was stationed before his final battle; the home in which he lived has been reconstructed for guided tours. A short walk away is the rebuilt On-A-Slant village where the local Mandan Indians also lived.

4480 Fort Lincoln Rd, Mandan, ND 58554

http://www.parkrec.nd.gov/parks/falsp/falsp.html

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The Dakotas

Stop 7: Theodore Roosevelt National Park 7/12

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The memorable landscapes at the point where the rolling Great Plains meet the wild Badlands once inspired a young Theodore Roosevelt into a lifetime of conservation. Today they can inspire visitors to hike, explore and camp in a scenic environment along the Little Missouri River. Take the Loop Drive through the park for a simple route around the best sites, and check out highlights like the coloured rocks at Painted Canyon or the old cabin where Roosevelt once stayed.

Interstate 94, exits 24 and 27, North Dakota

https://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm

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The Dakotas

Stop 8: Belle Fourche / Spearfish Canyon 8/12

Belle Fourche / Spearfish Canyon

Belle Fourche was the world’s largest earth dam when it was built in 1911. More recently it has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The damming of Owl Creek created a beautiful National Wildlife Refuge as well as the popular Rocky Point Recreation area for camping, boating, picnics and walks. And a short drive south is the dramatic scenery of Spearfish Canyon - look out for the spectacular waterfalls.

east of Belle Fourche, South Dakota

http://www.bellefourchechamber.org/outdoor-activities/

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The Dakotas

Stop 9: Crazy Horse Memorial 9/12

Crazy Horse Memorial

Native tribal chief Henry Standing Bear invited a sculptor to create a spectacular tribute to all Native Americans by carving a mountain in the Black Hills to rival nearby Mount Rushmore. The project started in 1948 and is still being worked on. It will eventually depict the warrior Crazy Horse riding a horse and will be the world’s largest sculpture. Visitors can now see Crazy Horse’s face, as well as the exhibits on display at the visitor centre and museum. (Image credit: B24Canyns)

12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730

https://crazyhorsememorial.org/

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The Dakotas

Stop 10: Mount Rushmore National Memorial 10/12

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The giant granite heads of four US Presidents carved into the cliffs of Mount Rushmore have together become one of America’s most distinctive landmarks. The project began in 1927 and was finished by 1941. The celebration of some of the country’s most celebrated Presidents - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln - makes the famous National Memorial South Dakota’s most popular attraction. There’s an extensive visitor centre, shop, restaurant and programme of talks too.

13000 South Dakota 244, Keystone, SD 57751

https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

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The Dakotas

Stop 11: Custer State Park 11/12

Custer State Park

Get a taste of Dakota’s untamed Wild West amid 71,000 acres of spectacular terrain. From the 18-mile wildlife loop road look out for a 1,300-strong herd of bison roaming free, or take the scenic Needles Highway to see rugged eroded spires of rock. Walk in the footsteps of Lt. Col. Custer’s gold prospecting expedition of 1874 or hire a cabin alongside a mountain stream in pristine pine forest. It’s also a great spot for hiring kayaks.

13329 US Highway 16A, Custer, SD 57730

https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/

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The Dakotas

Stop 12: Dinosaur Park 12/12

Dinosaur Park

Families love the free Dinosaur Park on a hill overlooking Rapid City, but not many realise it’s also an historic monument. The site is one of America’s National Register of Historic Places because it dates right back to 1936. Seven full-size dinosaur models dominate the site and each was chosen to reflect fossils found in the region. There’s a visitor centre, gift shop and great views across Dakota to the Badlands too. The perfect place to put a full stop on your US road trip. (Image credit: cti613)

940 Skyline Dr. Rapid City, SD 5770

http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/business/dinosaur-park

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