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Group Tour Itineraries
Themed and Special Interest Tours
South Dakota is one of the most agricultural states in America. Tour opportunities include farms/ranches with thousands of acres of range and farmland; the Sioux Falls Stockyards, one of the busiest in the country; a potato chip processing plant; an ethanol plant; large and small packing plants; and South Dakota State University, highly regarded for its agricultural research. In the northeast part of South Dakota, farm stays for group tours are an option.
Archaeology, Paleontology and Geology
South Dakota is recognized as one of the premier areas for these subjects. Sites and attractions around the state include: the Museum of Geology in Rapid City, The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, the Prehistoric Indian Village and Archeodome in Mitchell, the Petrified Wood Park in Lemmon, and Badlands National Park - recognized around the world as one of the richest Oligocene fossil beds.
Get a bird's eye view of northeastern South Dakota by following the Glacial Lakes and Prairies Birding Trail. The trail includes 38 sites in the region, ranging from state parks teeming with warblers to Waterfowl Production Areas full of shorebirds. Sites along the trail, like Oakwood Lakes State Park, Waubay National Wildlife Refuge, Sica Hollow State Park and Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, are truly a birder's paradise.
The Southeast South Dakota Birding Trail provides a detailed look into birding southeastern South Dakota. The trail includes 33 sites in the region including woodlands, which are a magnet for dozens of species of warblers, and prairie pothole lakes and wetlands teeming with marsh birds, shore birds and wetland species. Sites along the trail include the Outdoor Campus, Lake Herman State Park, Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge and Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve.
The Great Lakes Birding Trail boasts at least 322 species and covers more than 400 miles. This trail follows course of the Missouri River, the Lewis and Clark Trail, through the center of South Dakota and is named for three huge dam-created lakes on the river, Lake Oahe, Lake Sharp and Lake Francis Case. Sites such as Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge, Lower Brule Indian Reservation Birding Loop, Farm Island Recreation Area, Oahe Downstream Recreation Area, West Whitlock Recreation Area and Cheyenne River Indian Reservation Birding Loop (to name only a few) offer extraordinary opportunities for birders.
Gambling tours can include stops at nine tribal casinos and the historic town of Deadwood, home to more than 80 gaming halls. Or, watch the ponies run in April in Fort Pierre and in Aberdeen in May.
Gold was first discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. Since then, this precious metal has played a significant role in the history of the area. Tours of one of the oldest mines in the Western Hemisphere are offered by Homestake Gold Mine Surface Tour and Visitor Center. Many other abandoned mines also offer tours, and museums throughout the region exhibit mining displays. Black Hills gold is produced by several companies and can be found in nearly every gift shop.
The combination of national parks and monuments, spectacular scenery and top family attractions makes South Dakota a perfect location for a grandparent to tour with the youngsters. Young and old alike will enjoy the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls; De Smet, the "Little Town on the Prairie;" the South Dakota Discovery Center and Aquarium, a hands-on science museum in Pierre; and the many Black Hills attractions ranging from a waterslide to a reptile park and Storybook Island.
Hub and Spoke
Because the Black Hills is basically a compact area, all national parks and monuments are within two hours of each other, several cities in the region can be used as the hub for a tour that is broken into spokes of the northern Black Hills, the Badlands area, the central Black Hills and the southern Hills.
Movie Site Tours
South Dakota has "starred" in several major films, the most famous being "Dances With Wolves." Other movies filmed here include "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," "Into the Wild," "Hidalgo," "Head of State," "Armageddon," "Starship Troopers," "Thunderheart," "North by Northwest," "How the West Was Won" and "A Man Called Horse." Just across the border in Wyoming, Devils Tower was featured in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Plus, the wild and wooly, rootin' tootin' Western history of Deadwood was featured in HBO's original series, "Deadwood."
There's always an exciting time for travelers on a mystery tour to South Dakota with a wide variety of attractions and activities to choose from. Discover majestic mountain carvings, an internationally-renowned music museum, Native American culture, Old West history, the World's Only Corn Palace, Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, Fort Sisseton Historic State Park and the beautiful Black Hills. Themed tours can be arranged too, with ideas such as pumpkin picking, a champagne reception aboard a train and your choice of a host of other activities and events.
Native American Culture
There are many ways to experience Native American culture in South Dakota. Museums and art galleries across the state display precious artifacts as well as traditional and contemporary art. Places to visit include the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, Buechel Lakota Memorial Museum in Saint Francis, The Heritage Center in Pine Ridge, and The Journey Museum in Rapid City. Visit re-enactments of Lakota encampments in Deadwood for an up-close-and-personal look into Plains Indian heritage. Other tribal cultural tours are available through the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates (ATTA). Visit www.attatribal.com or call 605-341-2378 for more information.
Old West History
The Old West begins in South Dakota. Your tours can experience the wild and wooly West at places like historic Deadwood, a prairie village near Madison, and the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder in De Smet. Favorite Western activities include rodeos, ranch visits, wagon rides, gold panning and historic train rides. During the summer, several Black Hills communities hold Western-style shootouts.
South Dakota's major attractions are open year-round. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Badlands National Park, the World's Only Corn Palace, Redlin Art Center, Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science and Deadwood never close. Spring and fall tours are becoming more popular as visitors want to see the sights during less busy times of the year. A winter tour could combine visits to national parks and monuments with snowmobiling, gambling in Deadwood, and even an indoor stock show and rodeo in Rapid City.
See It Made
There are many unique businesses in South Dakota where visitors can actually see items being produced. At an art center in Rapid City, for example, watch Native American craftspeople produce their fine art and jewelry. In Rapid City, watch Native American pottery-making. Several Rapid City Black Hills gold companies offer on-site tours of their jewelry-making facilities. At a manufacturing facility in Lemmon, see where unique agate and other jewelry is made. In Hot Springs watch craftspeople make cowboy boots, saddles and moccasins.
South Dakota offers a host of opportunities for soft adventure: hiking, biking, fishing, golfing, wagon rides, balloon rides and more. Request a South Dakota Adventure Travel Guide for a listing of outfitters and adventure travel providers. You can also search our Travel Directory for adventures and activities.
View our three-day sample itinerary.
Tour one of more than a dozen local wineries located in Beresford, Brandon, Bushnell, Crooks, Hill City, Pierre Rapid City, Renner, Spearfish, Vermillion, Volga and Whitewood. Some offer wine tastings and work with specialty requests.
Vicky Engelhaupt, Trade Sales Representative.