I’m standing on a pink quartzite ledge in Sioux Falls, watching 7,400 gallons of water spill over a series of waterfalls every single second. I drive west through farm fields, undulating grasslands and an ocean of sky to perch on a precipice in Badlands National Park, staring into a colorful gorge chiseled from an arid, wind-battered landscape that first emerged 75 million years ago.
South Dakota scenery has a penchant for drama. With glacial lakes and prairies in the east, the forested hills out west and Missouri River unspooling in between, the state’s landscapes transfix even the most jaded travelers. Look for artful cities, swaggering Wild West towns, thousands of years of indigenous culture and plenty of wide open spaces. The most beautiful and intriguing places to visit in South Dakota are often hiding in plain sight: