There’s so much to see and do in South Dakota, that it can be easy to overlook some of our lesser-known gems. Take a look at these 10 under-appreciated state parks – you’ll find fewer crowds and just might decide that these are your new favorite spots!
1. Newton Hills State Park
This little state park is perfect for camping - amenities include 128 campsites, eight cabins and a lodge! Explore miles of hiking trails, horse trails and picnic spots, and catch a fish in nearby Lake Lakota. 28767 482nd Avenue, Canton.
2. Hartford Beach State Park
Big Stone Lake offers some truly scenic forest and a wonderful little beach that's perfect for a weekend away. This state park offers plenty of campsites and cabins for your overnight stay. There's also a boat ramp, fish cleaning station, flush toilets and showers and playground. 13672 Hartford Beach Road, Corona.
3. Bear Butte State Park
This gorgeous place has long been considered sacred by Native Americans. You'll likely find trees with bit of cloth hanging from the branches. Leave them there - they're prayer cloths. For an incredible view, take the 1.8-mile Summit Trail - it's well worth your effort! 20250 Hwy 79, Sturgis.
4. Good Earth State Park At Blood Run
This beautiful place is the site of the largest known Oneota settlement in the state. It's located just a few miles from Sioux Falls, and offers some truly spectacular hiking trails. Take a picnic and plan on spending the day here. 26924 480th Avenue, Sioux Falls.
5, Sica Hollow State Park
900 acres of woodland make up this pretty state Park in Sisseton. Take the self-guided, interpretive Trail of the Spirits hike, and you'll see some reddish-colored bogs. The old Native American legend says that these bogs were the blood of the ancestors. 44950 Park Road, Sisseton.
6. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve
This pretty preserve includes 1,500 acres right alongside the Missouri River. Take a tour of the restored home and barn, and enjoy 10 miles of trails that take you through forest and prairie, where you'll see plenty of wildlife. 272 Westshore Drive, McCook Lake.
7. Lake Herman State Park
Visit the cabin of Herman Luce, the first settler in this area. The amenities at this charming park are numerous - everything from canoe rentals and game checkouts to a fishing dock, campsites and playground. 23409 State Park Drive, Madison.
8. Lake Louise Recreation Area
You'll have tons of fun at Lake Louise Recreation Area. Cool off in the lake by swimming, or take a jet ski or boat out for the afternoon. Watch for pheasants and ducks, and try your luck at fishing. 35250 191st Street, Miller.
9. Oakwood Lakes State Park
Visit this pretty park in the winter for some cross-country skiing and ice fishing; in the summer, enjoy hiking, fishing and picnics. You'll find eight glacial lakes here, so there's definitely plenty to explore. 20247 Oakwood Drive, Bruce.
10. Spirit Mound Historic Prairie
Lewis and Clark visited this sacred place back in 1804 - you can stand in the same place these explorers once stood. Take the trail up and back - it's less than a mile, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Wildflowers, plants and wildlife are abundant here. 31148 SD Hwy 19, Vermillion.
Which of these state parks have you visited? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!