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Native American Scenic Byway
South Dakota’s cultural roots unfold as you travel into the heart of the Great Sioux Nation along this byway. The breathtaking trail follows the Missouri River through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. This route offers views of buffalo, bottomlands and river bluffs.
Begin your journey near Yankton, the capital of Dakota Territory from 1861-1883. Stops can include the Dakota Territorial Museum and Lewis and Clark Recreation Area. Following Highway 50, the Native American Scenic Byway heads northwest towards Pickstown and Lake Andes, where Randall Creek State Recreation Area and Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge offer opportunities to enjoy nature and perhaps catch a glimpse of the majestic bald eagle. Heading north to Chamberlain-Oacoma see breathtaking views of the Missouri River and a unique chance to learn about Native American heritage at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center. Overnight in Chamberlain.
Today’s route heads north to Fort Thompson, located in the lands of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. When Lewis and Clark explored this region in 1804, they noted the abundance of wildlife and colorful bluffs. Here, the byway crosses the Missouri River near Big Bend Dam and enters into the lands of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
Along the way to the Pierre/Ft. Pierre area is the Buffalo Interpretive Center, providing an educational experience of the buffalo and its effect on Native American culture. In Fort Pierre, visit the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center and the Verendrye Monument, where French explorers buried a lead plate claiming the region for France. The lead plate can be viewed at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center across the Missouri River in Pierre, as well as the beautifully restored State Capital. Overnight in Pierre.
Visitors to the capital city area can also stop by the Oahe Dam, which gives way to colossal Lake Oahe, the fourth largest reservoir in the United States. Head west via Highways 14/34 toward the small town of Hayes. The journey turns north on Highway 63, to the lands of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. In Eagle Butte, visit the H.V. Johnston Cultural Center, to see displays of historical artifacts, murals, photographs, beadwork and paintings.
Traveling east on Highway 212, West Whitlock Recreation Area features a replica of an Arikara earth lodge, resembling the Native American structures discovered by Lewis and Clark. Continuing north to Mobridge, visitors can stop by the Klein Museum which houses a multitude of artifacts pertaining to the history of the area. On a bluff along the Missouri River across from Mobridge is the Sacagawea Monument, the only female member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, and the Sitting Bull Monument, featuring a seven-ton granite bust marking the final resting place of the legendary Sioux leader. Overnight in Mobridge.