#51 best destination in the world

Notch Trail, Badlands National Park

  • National park of sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States
  • The national park was originally a reservation of the Oglala Sioux Indians and spans the southern unit of the park
  • The area around Stronghold Table was originally Sioux territory, and is revered as a ceremonial sacred site rather than a place to live
  • In 1868, at the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie, the United States assured the Sioux that the Badlands shall forever be the property of the Sioux
  • In 1889, however, the treaty was broken and the Badlands were confiscated by the United States and unilaterally incorporated into a national park.
  • At the end of the 19th century, the Sioux Indians used this area as the site of the Ghost Dance, a ceremony to revive the souls of buffalo and the dead
  • After the last ghost dance in 1890, the United States banned the ritual, but it was revived by the Red Power movement, a movement to restore Indian rights that began in the 1960s
  • In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court awarded compensation to the Sioux for the abrogation of the 1868 treaty, but the Sioux did not accept the money

Mount Rushmore, Keystone

  • Colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota
  • The project was executed from 1927 to 1941, and the sculpture features the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)
  • The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively
  • Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end in 1941

Wind Cave, Wind Cave National Park

  • National park established in 1903, by President Theodore Roosevelt
  • It was the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world
  • The cave is notable for its calcite formations known as boxwork, as well as its frostwork
  • Approximately 95 percent of the world’s discovered boxwork formations are found in Wind Cave
  • The cave is recognized as the densest cave system in the world, with the greatest passage volume per cubic mile
  • Wind Cave is the seventh longest cave in the world with 154.2 miles of explored cave passageways and the third longest cave in the United States
  • Above ground, the park includes the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the United States

Black Elk Peak Loop: South Dakota Highpoint, Custer State Park

  • South Dakota State Park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills
  • The park is South Dakota’s largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer
  • The park covers an area of varied terrain including rolling prairie grasslands and rugged mountains
  • Bison, elk, coyotes, mule deer, white tailed deer, mountain goats, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, river otters, pronghorn, cougars, and feral burros also inhabit the park
  • The park is known for its scenery, with views of the bison herd and prairie dog towns

Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer County

  • Mountain monument under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills, in Custer County
  • It will depict the Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, riding a horse and pointing to his tribal land
  • The memorial was commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, to be sculpted by Korczak Ziolkowski
  • The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, on land considered sacred by some Oglala Lakota
  • The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is far from completion
  • If completed as designed, it will become the world’s second tallest statue, after the Statue of Unity in India

Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer County

  • Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the third longest cave in the world, with 200.3 miles of mapped passageways
  • It became a national monument in 1908
  • The Park Service offers three tours: the scenic tour, a half-mile loop through a paved and lighted central portion of the cave accessible by elevator; the historic tour, a candlelight tour through the earliest-discovered part of the cave; and a wild caving tour, through an undeveloped part of the cave near the scenic loop

Wall Drug

  • Roadside attraction located in the town of Wall, that consists of a collection of cowboy-themed stores, including a drug store, gift shop, several restaurants, and various other stores, as well as an art gallery and an 80-foot brontosaurus sculpture