Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, Yankton

Spring in South Dakota

Blooming gardens, prairies bursting with new life, and rivers and lakes swollen from melting snow are sure signs of spring's arrival in South Dakota. Discover a seemingly endless outdoor playground for fishing, boating, hiking, birding, wildlife watching and so much more.

Spring weather in South Dakota can be unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the possibility for snow, rain, sunshine and everything in between. Be sure to check the weather before your trip and pack layers of clothes, including:

  • A base layer
  • Long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts, rain jacket or water-resistant outer layer
  • Water-resistant shoes and a warm hat
  • Bring an umbrella for inclement weather and sunscreen and sunglasses for sunny days
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Family Photo Opp Badlands National Park South Dakota
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A Special Place to Explore

Spectacular. Accessible. Unexpected. These are just a few words that people use to described the beauty and fun of South Dakota. Come see for yourself what this unique state has to offer. Expect amazing views, tasty food, and plenty of smiles.

Things to Do Around the State

Discover fun spring activities in every region of South Dakota.

Black Hills & Badlands Region

Breathe in the fresh air — and keep your eyes open for wildlife — at one of this region's many national parks and public lands. In Custer State Park, hundreds of buffalo calves are born between March and April; see these free-roaming herds along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway. Head to Badlands National Park to spot prairie dogs popping up from their underground homes and bighorn sheep traipsing along the cliffs near Pinnacles Overlook. Spring is also prime time for wildflowers, especially the pasque, South Dakota's state flower. Jewel Cave National Monument, Spearfish Canyon and George S. Mickelson Trail offer more scenic springtime strolls.

Biking Sioux Falls
Southeast Region

In this corner of South Dakota, numerous rivers and 175 fishing lakes offer ample chances to reel in a catch. As the weather warms up, explore the great outdoors and a piece of American history along the Lewis & Clark Trail, with scenic overlooks, miles of hiking, and waterfront recreation areas that were once traveled by these iconic explorers. Or, head to the region's many wineries to stroll through vineyards and taste locally made wines. Meanwhile, the whole family can enjoy natural beauty at the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum & East Sioux Falls Historic Site, where trails stretch across 155 acres and bald eagles, waterfowl, turkeys and deer can be spotted.

Missouri River, South Dakota, near Yankton
Missouri River Region

With the mighty Missouri River flowing through it, this region is home to more than 440 miles of waterways offering plenty of spring fishing in numerous reservoirs, including Lake Oahe, where pike and walleyes are plentiful. Explore the trail system at Farm Island State Recreation Area, located on the shores of Lake Sharpe, and bring your binoculars to spot yellow warblers and other birds. While you’re driving through this region, scan the wide open plains, where you might catch a glimpse of newly born baby antelope.

Mcrory Gardens
Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region

Pristine glacial lakes dot the expansive prairies of this region, making it ideal for birding and fishing. Venture out onto the pier at Roy Lake State Park near Sisseton to see what you can reel in, and keep your eyes peeled for newly hatched baby ducks. Pelican Lake Recreation Area in Watertown is a stopping place for migrating waterfowl, so stroll along the multi-use trails to see birds and wildflowers. At McCrory Gardens in Brookings, marvel at 70 acres of arboretum grounds and formal gardens that explode into color every spring.

Spring Events & Festivals

St. Patrick's Day is South Dakota's unofficial kick-off to the spring season! Head to Deadwood for the ultimate St. Patrick’s Celebration, and get your St. Paddy's Shuffle "PubPort" stamped throughout the weekend for a chance to win cash prizes. Or, purchase a button to participate in the Sioux Falls St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which begins with the annual painting of the shamrock. Be sure to bring your appetite to Schmeckfest, a “festival of tasting” that celebrates Freeman’s rich heritage with culinary and craft demonstrations, historical presentations, live music and a buffet-style meal featuring Low-German, Swiss and Hutterish recipes.

This is also the season to gear up for the Spring Volksmarch at Crazy Horse Memorial, where huge crowds hike up the world’s largest mountain carving-in-progress. This set-your-own-pace hike is 6.2 miles and can take up to four hours to complete. Nineteenth-century frontier life is on colorful display at the Fort Sisseton Historical Festival. Experience Civil War-era music and dancing, arts and crafts, cannon firings and even a military costume ball at this three-day festival that draws more than 200 campers and 15,000 guests.

St. Patrick's Day, Deadwood
Woman holding treat at Schmeckfest (square)
Schmeckfest, Freeman
Fort Sisseton Historical Festival

Find Spring Events

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Another adventure is always waiting around the bend in South Dakota. Get inspired and say #HiFromSD to share your vacation experiences!

Illustrated image of three bison grazing in Custer State Park. The Needles rock formation is visible in the background.
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