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How to get to South Dakota

South Dakota is a landlocked state in the Midwestern region of the United States of America so the best ways to travel to this Great Plains area include flying, driving, and catching public transport. The most convenient and time-efficient mode of transportation depends on where in the country you're travelling from with flying the best option if you're coming from a state on either coast (or one that's equally as far).

Driving makes sense if you're travelling from a neighbouring state such as North Dakota, Montana, or Minnesota, or if you want to embark on a longer road trip from states like Colorado, Utah, and Kansas. Catching public transport isn't the quickest way to reach your final destination in South Dakota but there are routes available from pretty much every state, making this form of transport easily accessible. 

Flying to South Dakota 

Flying is by far the easiest and most time-efficient way of travelling to South Dakota, regardless of where in the country you're travelling from. South Dakota has five major, commercial airports: Aberdeen Regional Airport (ABR), Pierre Regional Airport (PIR), Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Sioux Falls Regional Airport (Joe Foss Field, FSD) and Watertown Regional Airport (ATY). There are a bunch of smaller airports scattered across the state however, there aren't frequent flights to and from these airports so it's more convenient to fly to one of the five key ones. 

The busiest airport in the state is Joe Foss Field (located in Sioux Falls), which has multiple airlines offering daily services. The cost of the fare will differ depending on where you're travelling from but to avoid increased prices and potential disappointment, make sure you book well in advance. 

Here are the approximate flight times from cities in various states to Sioux Falls:

  • 3 hours to fly from Los Angeles, CA to Sioux Falls

  • 3 and a half hours to fly from Salt Lake City, UT to Sioux Falls

  • 2 hours to fly from Atlanta, GA to Sioux Falls

  • 2 hours to fly from Nashville, TN to Sioux Falls

  • 3 hours to fly from New York City, NY to Sioux Falls 

If your final destination isn't one of the five major cities listed above, you can also hire a car from any of the five airports to continue your journey. There are several car rental companies that service the state of South Dakota. The cost of renting a car can vary depending on the season you're travelling in, what kind of car you need/want and how long you need it for.

Driving to South Dakota

Driving to South Dakota is not only a great way to see some of this state's extraordinary landscapes (Badlands, we're looking at you), but it also allows you to move around more freely when you reach your final destination, whether that's Rapid City, Sioux Falls or somewhere else. The total travel time by car largely depends on what state you're travelling from and where in South Dakota you want to end up, but you can safely expect the journey to take you several hours. 

For example, driving from Bismarck in North Dakota to the South Dakota border will take you roughly 4 hours, while driving from Minneapolis in Minnesota to Rapid City will take you 8 and a half hours. Regardless of the length of your road trip, make sure you pack a few snacks, have an awesome driving playlist and stop as many times as you can to get the most out of South Dakota's breathtaking scenery.

The freeways in and out of South Dakota are relatively well-maintained and easy to navigate, with large signs featuring bold lettering. You shouldn't experience any major delays if you plan your route ahead of time but you should be mindful of traffic when driving through populated cities at peak periods. You might also be subjected to a border inspection when crossing state lines so keep that in mind when planning out your trip. 

Catching public transport to South Dakota

There aren't a whole lot of options if you want to catch public transport to South Dakota with Amtrak (national train service) not offering any routes into the state. However, you can catch a bus to South Dakota with both Greyhound and Jefferson Lines operating several routes in and out of the state. The average cost of a bus fare depends on when you're travelling and where you're going.

Still want to learn more about South Dakota? Return to South Dakota FAQs 

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