South Dakota offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities. The state has many scenic areas. The two major recreational areas are the Black Hills, in the west, and the lakes region, in the east.
The National Park Service administers several units in South Dakota. The best known is Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills. Here the faces of four U.S. presidents, each 60 ft from forehead to chin, were carved into a granite mountain. Wind Cave National Park, also in the Black Hills, is noted for the delicate formations found in its cavern. A wildlife preserve is above ground. Also in the state are Jewel Cave National Monument, which gets its name from the glittering calcite crystals that line its walls, and Badlands National Park, in which thousands of years of erosion have carved a striking landscape of deep gorges, jagged spires, and grassy plateaus.
The two national forest areas in South Dakota cover a combined area of about about 2,013,000 acres. The Black Hills National Forest encompasses all of the area of the Black Hills in the state. The forest has facilities for picnicking, fishing, camping, hiking, and hunting. Custer National Forest, which includes several units in Montana and South Dakota, covers grasslands and rolling pine-covered hills in northwestern South Dakota. The forest also has camping and picnicking sites. The only state forest is De Smet State Forest, in the lake region of east-central South Dakota.
Custer State Park, covering about about 73,000 acres in the Black Hills, is one of the largest state parks in the United States. It includes a rugged, scenic area traversed by Needles Highway, and several beautiful lakes, including Sylvan Lake, that are popular resorts. The park is also a wildlife sanctuary. Also in the west is Bear Butte State Park, named for a noted butte, a remnant of a volcano that holds spiritual significance for many Native American peoples.
Oakwood Lakes State Park, in eastern South Dakota, is a forested area once used by Native Americans as a ceremonial ground. Hartford Beach State Park is another wooded park in the lake region of eastern South Dakota.
Located on the Big Sioux River in the southeastern comer of the state is Newton Hills State Park. Fort Sisseton State Park, in the northeast, is the site of a well-preserved fort originally built in 1864.
Fort Randall Reservoir, on the Missouri River, offers excellent outdoor recreational opportunities. Also on the Missouri River is Lewis and Clark Lake, at the South Dakota-Nebraska border. Rimming the lake is a beautiful shoreline of wooded slopes and chalkstone cliffs. Angostura Reservoir and Cold Brook Reservoir, both in the Black Hills, provide other recreation areas for winter sports.