Custer State Park in the Black Hills is a 71,000-acre nature preserve where bison and wild burros roam free, and you can hike and explore open grasslands, rolling hills, and rugged mountain peaks. Nearby, the striking igneous rock formation Needle's Eye looms 40 feet above the highway to which it gave its name. In the town of Hills, you'll find the Black Hills Institute, home to one of the top collection of dinosaur fossils in the U.S. outside of New York City's Museum of Natural History. This is only fitting: The land that is now South Dakota was once one of Tyrannosaurus rex's favorite stomping grounds.
The Black Hills and the adjacent area are by far South Dakota's most popular tourist destination. Hotels fill up fast, particularly in the late spring and summer, so you'll want to book reservations in Black Hills South Dakota hotels early.
The South Dakota badlands are a series of visually arresting buttes, pinnacles, spires, and other rock formations that spread out for hundreds of miles in the southwestern part of the state. The most striking specimens are in Badlands National Park, a 381-square mile vista that also contains the largest undisturbed prairie in the U.S.
Then there's Wall Drug, the whimsical, sprawling South Dakota shopping mall in the middle of nowhere, famous for its promotional signs throughout the U.S. and the world. Paris Metro riders have seen advertisements for Wall Drug and so have visitors to the Taj Mahal.
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