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100 Years of Tradition

A lot can happen in 100 years.

While so much has changed in the past century, the beauty of South Dakota's outdoors remains a peaceful constant. That's why the state is celebrating 100 Years of Tradition!

The festivities begin with the State Parks Open House Weekend, May 18 – 20. For the entire weekend, entrance to all state parks and recreation areas are free!

Yet no matter when you visit, there will be plenty to celebrate.

Custer State Park—South Dakota's first official state park—is considered the state's "crown jewel" and one of the few truly wild places in the United States. Nearly 1,300 bison call the park home, sharing 71,000 acres with pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk and the always-popular curious burros. Cruise along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road or hike to the top of Black Elk Peak, the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies.

And that's only one spot!

South Dakota's 56 state parks and recreation areas showcase the state's broad expanses of prairies, backcountry mountains, plentiful lakes and lush woods.

Located just off the mighty Missouri River, Lewis & Clark Recreation Area is one of the state's most popular places to hike, bike, camp and relax. Good Earth—the state's newest park—is one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the country. Hike or ride on horseback through Sica Hollow State Park, the home of rugged beauty and ancient Native American legends. The 1864 frontier army outpost at Fort Sisseton State Park still has 14 original buildings intact. Oahe Downstream State Recreation Area features the interactive Prairie Butterfly Garden, while West Whitlock Recreation Area attracts modern-day explorers and fisherman to the shores where the Arikara and Mandan people once camped.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful and revered spots in South Dakota is Bear Butte State Park. Bear Butte—a geological formation formed millions of years ago—is considered sacred to the many Native American tribes that hold religious ceremonies on the mountain. Visitors who hike to the 4,426-foot summit are rewarded with a stunning view of four states.

The state's history of welcoming visitors means exploration outdoors is fun and uncomplicated. Groups can easily take in both Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial in a single afternoon. Scenic drives, museums and restaurants for every taste await your visit. Combine these tour options with the legendary "Midwestern nice"—and don't be surprised if you and your group find yourselves hooked on making more South Dakota memories.

Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism. For more information on how South Dakota can make your group tour one that customers will never forget, check out

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