Prepare your mind, body, and soul for a nature-focused adventure through this mesmerizing Mount Rushmore state.

If you’re searching for unique experiences, rich history, and a plethora of natural wonders you’ll never stop thinking about then South Dakota in the United States is the perfect place for your next adventure. Leave the bustling streets and big cities behind for grassy plains and dramatic landscapes on our South Dakota tours and holidays and reconnect with a nature that’s both peaceful and breathtaking. From the formidable rocky pinnacles of Badlands National Park and the alluring waters of natural hot springs scattered across the state to the small-town charm and welcoming mid-western hospitality, South Dakota is a fascinating land full of Native American culture, national memorials, and unforgettable scenery. 

Our South Dakota tours & holidays 

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Tailor-Made trips

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Things to do in South Dakota 

A group of cyclists by a lake enjoying the scenery in South Dakota

Cycle your way past the state’s scenery

Take your South Dakotan journey off two feet and onto two wheels by cycling through some of the state’s more spellbinding scenery. From pedalling past otherworldly landscapes in Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Black Hills National Forest, and Badlands National Park to stopping for a rest at some small towns full of big stories such as Deadwood, Hot Springs, and Hill City, biking is one of the best ways to see as much of South Dakota as you possibly can.

The historic buildings on a street in downtown Deadwood at sunset.

Wander through downtown Deadwood

South Dakota’s cities might not rival those found in other states but what they lack in size they make up for in character. The small town of Deadwood in the state’s west is one such city with its downtown area bursting with centuries of stories all waiting to be told. Known and loved for its wild, gold mining past, this town was once preferred by outlaws, gunslingers, and party lovers but is now full of historic buildings and old saloons for you to wander through. 

Local Lakota guide teaching travellers about their culture and way of life.

Learn about local culture from a Lakota guide

South Dakota’s cultural scene is both vibrant and diverse with various Native American Indian tribes influencing the state’s art, music, and literature over the years. One of those tribes is the Oglala Lakota People who still hold a deep connection to the land today. Alongside your Intrepid group, learn about the history, stories, and spirituality of the tribe from a local Lakota guide, tour the Heritage Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enjoy a traditional lunch from a Lakota-owned restaurant. 

Sylvan Lake in the middle of Custer State Park on a sunny day in South Dakota

Marvel at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park

Custer State Park promises an extraordinary experience in itself with native animals for you to spot left, right, and center, however, Sylvan Lake is something else entirely. Known as the jewel in the crown of this magnificent park, Sylvan Lake boasts immeasurable beauty from its sparkling surface to its rocky surrounds. Whether you fancy setting up a picnic along the lake’s edges, paddle-boating your way to its middle, or cooling off in its refreshing waters, you simply can’t miss this scenic site. 

The presidential faces of the Mount Rushmore monument at sunset.

Look at the presidential faces of Mount Rushmore

Driving along the historic Iron Mountain Road, and the scenery that unfurls in front of you, is enough to make you forget what you’re actually in the Black Hills to see.  Carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore by a father/son duo way back in 1927 are four of the United States’ most respected and influential presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Aside from the obvious photo ops, this is one monolithic monument you don’t want to miss.  

Traveller walking along a trail in Badlands National Park on a clear, blue day.

Explore the breathtaking Badlands National Park

Lace up your hiking boots, fill up your reusable water bottle, and charge up your camera for a memorable adventure through the captivating Badlands National Park. Whether you want to tackle Castle Trail for an unmatched view of the backcountry’s sweeping prairie grass plains and interesting rock formations or spend your time spotting native bighorn sheep and pronghorn, this national park has spectacular scenery you’re going to want to explore for days. And that’s not even an exaggeration. 

South Dakota tour reviews 

South Dakota FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

The best way to get to South Dakota largely depends on where in the United States you're travelling from with flying, self-driving, and catching public transport among the easiest and most time-efficient options. If you're travelling from a nearby state, self-driving might be the way to go as you have more flexibility over the journey and the total travel time is unlikely to be more than a few hours. If you're travelling from a coast or somewhere equally as far, flying will be the quickest option. There are five primary airports in South Dakota making it easy to arrive at your desired destination within the state. 

Click to read more about how to get to South Dakota

South Dakota is a naturally beautiful state with sweeping grassy plains and dramatic landscapes full of rocky mountains so in order to make the most out of its spectacular scenery, self-driving is one of the best ways to get from place to place. There are two interstate highways that run through the state, however, alternate routes are also encouraged to explore South Dakota further. You can easily fly around the state with airports in the major cities of Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Pierre, Aberdeen, and Watertown. South Dakota also has an impressive public transport system making it easy to get around the state if you're on a budget. 

South Dakota can be enjoyed all year round but the peak time to visit this breathtaking state is during the months of May through to September. During this time the weather is reasonably warm without being uncomfortably hot. Average temperatures sit at around 23°C making it the perfect weather to spend the majority of your time exploring South Dakota's incredible landscapes. Be mindful that because this is considered to be the 'peak' season that accommodation prices will rise, availability will lower and crowds will be larger. 

To ensure your trip to South Dakota is a stress-free one, it's important to double-check you've packed everything you could possibly need. Aside from weather-appropriate clothes, some important things to pack are sunhats, sunglasses, sunscreen, comfortable walking/hiking shoes, a backpack/day bag, a camera, extra electronic chargers, and a reusable water bottle. 

There are nine Native American tribes who call South Dakota their home and who have lived on this land for centuries. These tribes are the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe; each with their own individual story to tell about their beliefs and way of life. 

Click to read more about the Native American tribes in South Dakota

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveller. Trips to this country directly support our global Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. 

Eden Reforestation Projects

Eden Reforestation Projects are helping to mitigate climate change by restoring forests worldwide; they also hire locally and create job opportunities within vulnerable communities. Donations from our trips support restoration across planting sites in 10 countries around the globe.

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