The Great Plains of South Dakota

Black Hills South Dakota
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The Great Plains

The Great Plains is a vast region comprised mainly of prairieland, featuring National Parks, wildlife, and historical towns, stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, and from Canada to Texas.

  • The Great Plains has an area of approximately 500,000 square miles.
  • Large herds of Great Plains buffalo once covered the landscape, providing food, shelter and clothing for Native American tribes.
  • Today, the region is known for its National Parks, old west frontier towns, modern cities and outdoor recreational activities.


Covering a large portion of central United States, the Great Plains is home to a range of wildlife species, Native American tribes, stunning landscapes, and modern cities.

Geographically, the Great Plains is mainly comprised of flat or rolling prairieland with areas of hills, steppes and canyons.

Here, pre-historic dinosaurs roamed. Later, Native American tribes migrated over the landscape following Great Plains buffalo herds. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, pioneers crossed the region from east to west, establishing towns around gold mining and other ventures, leading to turbulent wars with the tribes and the eventual construction of cities.

The Great Plains offers no end to year-round attractions and activities. Explore the state and National Parks or visit one of several towns featuring museums, monuments, amusement parks, shopping, festivals, scenic byways, and more.


The Great Plains stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Mississippi River in the east, and from Texas in the south to southern Canadian in the north.

Though primarily composed of grassland, the Black Hills and Badlands region of the Great Plains, in South Dakota and Wyoming, feature forested hills, canyons, buttes, rivers and reservoirs.


A perfect year-round destination, outdoor recreational activities abound in spring, summer, autumn and winter. 


  • Hiking: Climb above the prairies in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, Big Bend National Park in Texas, or Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
  • Fishing: Fish for a variety of warm and cold water species in Great Plains? rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
  • Horseback Riding: One of the most popular Great Plains? activities, saddle up for a trail ride or spend a week moving cattle on a Dude Ranch.
  • Museums/Monuments: Learn about Native American culture, view pre-historic fossils, visit old mines and frontier towns, and touch artifacts from the time of the old west pioneers when you visit a Great Plains museum.
  • Hunting: Featuring a variety of big and small game including pheasants, water fowl, mule deer, and antelope.

Additional Information

Many natural features within the Great Plains region are held sacred by Native American plains tribes including the Sioux, Cheyenne, Crow and others, such as Bear Butte, located in the Black Hills.