The Dakotas

The two states of North and South Dakota have a total area of 147,878 square miles and with warm, even hot summers, there is plenty of history, culture and outdoor adventure to explore.

The word “Dakota” derives from a Native American term for “friend” and the states are warm and welcoming and retain much of America’s frontier heritage and pioneer spirit.

NORTH DAKOTA

In North Dakota, history and heritage are found around every turn and a visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named after the US President and the time he spent there, is a great place to explore. Hiking, camping and wildlife viewing are just a few of the ways to get back to nature in this scenic park where visitors can also tour Roosevelt’s own cabin.

Witness authentic Indian tribal dancing at the United Tribes International Powwow, held each September in the state capital of Bismarck or visit Fargo to view vintage and modern aircraft at the Fargo Air Museum.

North Dakota is home to great scenic drives all across the state, including two national scenic byways, so is a great addition to any fly-drive holiday in America’s western mountain states.

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota is incredibly scenic and there is much to explore. The mountains and forests of the Black Hills include six national parks, 101 miles of National Scenic Byways and landmarks such as Deadwood and Wounded Knee. The most famous of the National Parks is, of course, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial where you can see close up the 60-foot carved heads of the four American Presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt; it would be 465 feet tall if the entire bodies had been sculpted. The nearby Crazy Horse Memorial, currently under construction, will be the world’s largest man-made mountain carving and is worth a visit to see the progress being made on this statue honouring the Native American warrior.

Named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes, Sioux Falls is the state’s largest city while you can relive the heady days of the Wild West in historic Deadwood, the well-known frontier town by quenching your thirst at the Old Style Saloon No. 10 or trying your luck at one of the town’s 80 gaming casinos.

The Badlands, so named by the Lakota Indians, is full of sharp ridges, steep walled canyons, gullies, pyramids and knobs with striking purples, yellows and reds portraying the different sedimentary layers. Badlands National Park also preserves some of the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals, with skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures among the many fossilized species found here.

Custer State Park, named after the famous cavalry officer George Custer, spans 71,000 acres and is home to over 1200 buffalo as well as elk and mountain goats. You can walk along the banks of French Creek, where Custer’s expedition first discovered gold in 1874, before his disastrous last battle at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. There are also a magnitude of outside activities such as hiking, riding and canoeing.

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