Even though South Dakota itself doesn’t immediately come to mind when most people think of American iconic outdoor experiences, this Midwestern state is actually chock-full of them – with quite a variety to boot. Whether you’re an adrenaline seeker looking to get your fix on a demanding cave excursion, or you’re out with the whole family in tow to make memories in the great outdoors that will last a lifetime, South Dakota’s got iconic adventures for everyone.
1. Summit Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak (formerly known as Harney Peak), nestled in South Dakota’s Black Hills near Custer, is the highest point in the state as well as the highest point in the United States east of the Rockies. This 7,242-foot peak is famous not only for its height but also for its colorful history. The peak was originally named “hinhan kaga” by the native Lakota but renamed in honor of General William S. Harney, a commander in the Black Hills in the 1870s. It kept that name for more than 150 years before the mountain was renamed Black Elk Peak in 2016. Additionally, according to Black Elk Speaks, Black Elk’s famous vision is said to have occurred on Black Elk Peak when Black Elk was just 9 years old.
When it comes to logistics, Black Elk Peak can be accessed a few different ways including through Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park or via Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which makes it an even more attractive stop – if must-see adventures are what you’re after, both of these places offer an extra dose of iconic outdoor locales