South Dakota, United States

About South Dakota

South Dakota is located in the Midwestern region of the United States. The state has an area of 77,116 square miles (199,730 km2) and an estimated population of just over 800,000. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of just over 150,000, is South Dakota's largest city. South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana. The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as "East River" and "West River". Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state's population, and fertile soil in this area is used to grow a variety of crops. The Black Hills are of great religious importance to local American Indians and also the location of Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination. Other attractions in the southwest include Badlands and Wind Cave national parks, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and historic Deadwood. South Dakota experiences a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate to semi-arid as one moves from east to west. The ecology of the state features species typical of a North American grassland biome.

South Dakota Tourism and Recreation

Tourism is the state's largest industry. Most of the state's tourist attractions lie west of the Missouri River, especially in the Black Hills region. Mt. Rushmore National Memorial consists of the heads of four US presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt—carved in granite in the mountainside. Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are also in the Black Hills region. Just to the east is Badlands National Monument, consisting of fossil beds and eroded cliffs almost bare of vegetation.

South Dakota Climate

South Dakota has a temperate climate. Its summers, particularly July and August, are hot, dry and pleasant, making this season the best for tourists, though they may experience occasional thunderstorms. Winters are bitterly cold and harsh, with relatively significant snowfalls and strong winds. January and February are typically the coldest months of the year, though snow is more likely to fall in March and April.

South Dakota has a continental climate with four distinct seasons, ranging from very cold, dry winters to hot and semi-humid summers. During the summers, the average high temperature throughout the state is often close to 90 °F (32 °C), although it generally cools down to near 60 °F (15 °C) at night. It is not unusual for South Dakota to have severe hot, dry spells in the summer with the temperature climbing above 100 °F (38 °C) several times every year. Winters are cold with January high temperatures averaging below freezing and low temperatures averaging below 10 °F (- 12 °C) in most of the state.

South Dakota summers bring frequent, sometimes severe, thunderstorms with high winds, thunder, and hail. The eastern part of the state is often considered part of Tornado Alley, and South Dakota experiences an average of 29 tornadoes per year. Severe weather in the form of blizzards and ice storms occur often during winter.

South Dakota Transportaion

Two major interstates pass through South Dakota: Interstate 90, which runs east and west; and Interstate 29, running north and south in the eastern portion of the state. Also located in the state are the shorter interstates 190, a spur into central Rapid City, and 229, a loop around eastern and southern Sioux Falls. South Dakota contains two National Scenic Byways. The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway is located in the Black Hills, while the Native American Scenic Byway runs along the Missouri River in the north-central part of the state. Other scenic byways include the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway, the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, and the Wildlife Loop Road Scenic Byway.

South Dakota's largest commercial airports in terms of passenger traffic are the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Rapid City Regional Airport. Northwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines, as well as commuter airlines using the brand affiliation with major airlines serve the two largest airports. Several other cities in the state also have commercial air service, some of which is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.