Background: Mount Rushmore Monument as seen from the viewing plaza. Photo by Dean Franklin

Living in South Dakota

South Dakota - Great Faces. Great Places

History, Geography, Homes, and State Resources of South Dakota

South Dakota USA Map
South Dakota USA Map

South Dakota is rich with early settler, fur trader and Native American history. Keep in mind, when you are told of rock stars located in the state near Mount Rushmore, people are more than likely discussing the likenesses of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. And those are not the only historic memories carved into the hillsides of South Dakota. Only few miles away from Mount Rushmore you'll find the the Memorial of Crazy Horse which has been undergoing construction since 1948.within the Black Hills, Although no completion date has been set, it might well be the largest sculpture in the world when completed.

When relocating to South Dakota, there's many interesting towns and cities which you could call home. There’s Rapid City, the biggest and fastest expanding city, Sioux Falls, the capitol of the state; Brookings and Aberdeen, both college towns. In addition you might consider Mitchell, with the famed Corn Palace; Watertown, a regional retail and manufacturing hub; and Yankton,, Pierre, Huron and Vermillion.

Exploration of this area began in 1743 when Louis-Joseph and François Verendrye came from France in search of a route to the Pacific.

The U.S. acquired the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and it was explored by Lewis and Clark in 1804–1806. Fort Pierre, the first permanent settlement, was established in 1817.

Settlement of South Dakota did not begin in earnest until the arrival of the railroad in 1873 and the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874.


The state has a continental climate with four definite seasons, ranging from cold, dry winters to hot and semi-humid summers. During the summers, the state's average high temperature is often close to 90 °F, although it cools to near 60 °F  at night. Winters are cold with January high temperatures averaging below freezing and low temperatures averaging below 10 °F in most of the state.


  • South Dakota Geography, Facts and History
  • South Dakota Facts & Trivia
  • South Dakota Flags
  • Famous People from South Dakota
  • South Dakota Timeline
  • South Dakota Official Song
  • Education

    South Dakota Colleges. The Board of Regents in South Dakota, whose members are appointed by the governor, controls the state's six public universities. The South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings is the state's largest university with a total of 12,831 participants. The University of South Dakota (USD), in Vermillion, is the state's oldest university and has South Dakota's only law school and medical faculty. South Dakota also has several private universities, the largest being Augustana College in Sioux Falls.


    Here are the top five industries in South Dakota:

    Agriculture, including livestock and crops, is one of the largest industries in South Dakota. Approximately 98 percent of the farms in the region are family owned and operated, according to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

    Manufacturing, including food processing and electronics, are big income generators. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in December 2014 more than 43,000 people worked in manufacturing and accounted for nearly 10 percent of the state's workforce with 916 firms operating in of 2011. More than $1.5 billion in manufactured goods are exported annually, reports the National Association of Manufacturers.

    Mining is also a key industry. The country's leading gold mining center was once operated in the town of Lead, located the Black Hills. In 2001 the mine closed, but other types of mining, including some gold mining, continue today. Construction sand, gravel and stone are mined regularly and South Dakota is also considered a mineral-rich state, with abundant minerals like gypsum, silver and copper.

    Tourism, also known as the leisure and hospitality industry, employs aroundy 42,000 people and fluctuates seasonally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's home to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills Caves, popular tourist spots which annually bring in many visitors.

    The state thrives in casino gaming. As a home to several American Indian reservations, including Pine Ridge and Standing Rock, the casino gaming industry has a stronghold in the state. Slot machines and table games generate revenue for the state in the forms of regulation. The state has a 9 percent gaming tax on the adjusted proceeds of gaming, and poses additional fees on slot machines for licensing, The majority of the state revenue from gaming is used to fund tourism. There are nine tribally run casinos in operation in the state.

    Flora and Fauna

    South Dakota State Flower - Pasque Flower
    South Dakota State Flower - Pasque Flower
    Oak, maple, beech, birch, hickory, and willow are all represented in South Dakota's forests while thickets of chokecherry, wild plum, gooseberry, and currant are found in the eastern part of the state. Pasqueflower (Anemone ludoviciana) is the state flower; other wild flowers are beardtongue, bluebell, and monkshood. No South Dakota plant species were listed as threatened or endangered in 2003.

    Familiar native mammals are the coyote (the state animal), porcupine, raccoon, bobcat, buffalo, white-tailed and mule deer, white-tailed jackrabbit, and black-tailed prairie dog. Nearly 300 species of birds have been identified; the sage grouse, bobwhite quail, and ring-necked pheasant are leading game birds. Trout, catfish, pike, bass, and perch are fished for sport. In 2003, twelve South Dakota animal species were listed as threatened or endangered, including the American burying beetle, whooping crave, Eskimo curlew, black-footed ferret, Topeka shiner, pallid sturgeon, least tern, and bald eagle.

  • South Dakota State Bird (Ring-necked Pheasant)
  • South Dakota Official State Flower (Pasque flower)
  • South Dakota Official State Tree (Black Hills Spruce)
  • Government

    South Dakota State Capitol
    South Dakota State Capitol
    The South Dakota State Capitol is the state capitol building of South Dakota. Housing the South Dakota State Legislature, it is located in the state capitol of Pierre at 500 East Capitol Avenue. The building houses the offices of most state officials, including the Governor of South Dakota. The building was constructed between 1905 and 1910. The designs for the building were executed by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Bell & Detweiler, who gave the building similar features to the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Montana.

    Executives elected statewide are the governor and lieutenant governor (elected jointly), secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of school and public lands, all of them elected for four-year terms. (Voters also elect three public utility commissioners and the 15 members of the Board of Education, who all serve six-year terms.) A candidate for governor must be at least 18 years old and have been a resident of the state for at least two years and a US citizen for at least two years prior to election. The governor is limited to serving two consecutive terms.

    Voters must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, and state residents. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.

  • South Dakota Official Website
  • Attractions

    Located in the middle of the country, South Dakota offers urban attractions and rugged natural beauty. From badlands jutting into the sky and lush woodlands that have hosted Native American tribes for thousands of years, to deep underground caves and the larger-than-life presidential monument of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota's landscapes provides unique opportunities. Whether you're interested in nature, culture, or history, you'll find plenty of things to see and do. Badlands National Park offers dramatic vistas. The city of Deadwood brings the Old West to life, and you can learn about local tribes and prairie ecosystems at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls.
  • South Dakota Department of Tourism
  • Amusement Parks

    Evan's Plunge, Hot Springs
    Flags & Wheels Indoor Racing, Rapid City
    Rush Mountain Adventure Park, Keystone
      A family fun park and show cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota near Mount Rushmore. Home of Rushmore Cave.
    Storybook Island, Rapid City
    Thunder Road Family Fun Park, Aberdeen

    National Parks

    Badlands National Park Badlands National Park
    Badlands National Park, Southwestern, SD
      The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.
    Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer, SD
      Immerse yourself within the third longest cave in the world. With over 195 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, this underground wilderness appeals to human curiosity. Its splendor is revealed through fragile formations and glimpses of brilliant color. Its maze of passages lure explorers, and its scientific wealth remains a mystery. This resource is truly a jewel in the National Park Service.
    Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Eleven States: ID,IL,IA,KS,MO,MT,NE,ND,OR,SD,WA
      Between May 1804 and September 1806, 31 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery. In their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean, they opened a window into the west for the young United States. Read the Lewis and Clark Pups blog, the Newfie News!
    Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Southwestern , SD
      During the Cold War, a vast arsenal of nuclear missiles were placed in the Great Plains. Hidden in plain sight, for thirty years 1,000 missiles were kept on constant alert; hundreds remain today. The Minuteman Missile remains an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. It holds the power to destroy civilization, but is meant as a nuclear deterrent to maintain peace and prevent war.
    Missouri National Recreational River, Yankton, SD,NE
      Imagine a 100-mile stretch of North America's longest river, a vestige of the untamed American West. The Missouri National Recreational River is where imagination meets reality. Two free flowing stretches of the Missouri make up the National Park. Relive the past by making an exploration of the wild, untamed and mighty river that continues to flow as nature intended.
    Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD
      Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, tell the story of the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. From the history of the first inhabitants to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore brings visitors face to face with the rich heritage we all share.
    Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, SD
      Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of America's oldest national parks. Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere.

    Black Hills National Forest
    Black Hills National Forest

    National Forests

    Black Hills National Forest - 1,250,866 acres
      Consisting predominately of Ponderosa pine, this forest is located in the namesake Black Hills. There are 11 reservoirs, 353 miles of trails, and 1,300 miles of streams in this forest. Black Elk Peak is the highest point in South Dakota and the highest point in the nation east of the Rocky Mountains at 7,244 feet.


    Because of its low population, South Dakota does not host any major league professional sports franchises. The state has minor league and independent league teams, all of which play in Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Sioux Falls is home to four teams: the Sioux Falls Canaries (baseball), the Sioux Falls Skyforce (basketball), the Sioux Falls Stampede (hockey), and the Sioux Falls Storm (indoor American football). The Canaries play in the American Association, and their home field is Sioux Falls Stadium. The Skyforce play in the NBA G League, and are owned by the NBA's Miami Heat.

  • South Dakota Sports
  • Taxes

    South Dakota Tax Facts
    • Income tax: none
    • Sales tax: 4.5% - 6.5%
    • Property tax: 1.32% average effective rate
    • Gas tax: 30 cents per gallon of regular gasoline and diesel



    Sioux Falls Regional Airport
    Sioux Falls Regional Airport Photo by City of Sioux Falls
    South Dakota Airports. South Dakota's largest commercial airports are Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Rapid City Regional Airport. Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Airlines, as well as commuter airlines that are affiliated with major airlines, serve the two largest airports. Several other cities in the state also have commercial air services: Aberdeen Regional Airport, Huron Regional Airport, Pierre Regional Airport, Brookings Regional Airport and Watertown Regional Airport, some of which are subsidized by the Essential Air Service program


    Railroads have played an important role in South Dakota transportation since the mid-19th century. Some 4,420 miles  of railroad track were built in South Dakota during the late 19th century and early 20th century, however only 1,839 miles are still active. BNSF Railway is the largest railroad in South Dakota; the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (formerly the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern) is the state's other major carrier. Other state carriers include Dakota Southern Railway, Dakota and Iowa Railroad, Ellis and Eastern Railroad, Sunflour Railroad, Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Sisseton Milbank Railroad.

    Rail transportation in the state is mostly confined only to freight, however two passenger heritage railroads operate in the state, them being The Black Hills Central, and the Prairie Village, Herman, and Milwaukee Railroad. However, South Dakota is one of the two contiguous US states (Wyoming being the other) lacking Amtrak service.


    South Dakota has 83,609 miles of highways, roads, and streets. plus 679 miles of interstate highways. Two major interstates pass through South Dakota: Interstate 90, which runs east and west through the southern half of the state; and Interstate 29, running north and south in the eastern portion of the state. The I-29 corridor features generally higher rates of population and economic growth than areas in eastern South Dakota further from the interstate.

    South Dakota Housing

    The median home value in South Dakota is $183,200. South Dakota home values have gone up 5.3% over the past year and predictions are they will rise 4.4% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in South Dakota is $167. The median price of homes currently listed in South Dakota is $221,400. The median rent price in South Dakota is $1,138.
    South Dakota Association of Realtors
    South Dakota Real Estate Commission
    South Dakota Real Estate Listings

    South Dakota Cities & Towns

    There are 66 counties in the state. Two counties in South Dakota which are entirely within an Indian reservation. There are 310 total municipalities in South Dakota. Of those 310, 300 of them are General law municipalities while the remaining 10 are Charter/Home rule cities. Municipalities in South Dakota can also be incorporated as towns. South Dakota also has one incorporated village, Wentworth. Sioux Falls has the largest population with 176,888 resdients, while Hillsview has the smallest population with just three residents.
  • South Dakota Cities and Towns
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    Living in South Dakota . Living in South Dakota