Welcome to: South Dakota
From rugged mountains to the Badlands to the prairies, South Dakota is 383 miles long, 237 miles wide, and chock-full of natural wonders and man-made national treasures. It boasts the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, two of the world’s largest caves, and more miles of shoreline than Florida. And, of course, the Mount Rushmore State is also home to Mount Rushmore.
Bought from France by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, South Dakota was originally home to 9 different Native American tribes: Yankton Sioux, Standing Rock Sioux, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Rosebud Sioux, Oglala Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, Flandreau Santee Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux.
In the 1920s, it was proposed one of these native chiefs, Red Cloud, be carved in the mountainside to help attract tourism. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum was eventually commissioned for the project and steered the vision in a completely different direction. Over 400 workers chiseled the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln into the side of the mountain. Now one of America’s most popular tourist attractions, these 60 foot sculptures on Mount Rushmore draw millions of visitors a year.
In the late 1800s, the Black Hills Gold Rush had people mining in droves but there’s another treasure trove that’s been excavated in South Dakota you might not have heard about. Badland National Park has proven fertile ground for fossils, including the most famous – and most complete – T Rex around, Sue.