You read that title correctly: here lies the ultimate kids, big kids, and adult’s dream come true, witnessing real mammoth fossils up close and personal. You already know the wooly mammoth is larger than an elephant, but it doesn’t quite hit you until you are standing in front of one of its massive, or rather mammoth, tusks. The best part about the mammoth site is that the mammoth bones aren’t already fully revealed and polished, rather they are partially uncovered, giving a unique look at how archeologists work.
If you want a glimpse into one of the most pivotal moments during American history, you have to check out the Homestake Gold Mine. While not the San Francisco scale of the gold rush, South Dakota did see its fair share of gold mining during 1870. You could say that this museum is a bit dark and gloomy, as the working conditions of gold miners was extremely dangerous and risky. It will definitely give you a new appreciation of how much of South Dakota was developed.
If you are into giant pine trees, mountains, streams, and, of course, waterfalls, then Spearfish Canyon has it all. This area is very dense, filled with lush wildlife and rapidly changing geology. There are number of famous peaks here, each with their own dramatic waterfalls cascading down them. Technically if you head north of Spearfish, you will find the exact center of the United States of America.
There are a ton of museums to visit while in South Dakota, but among the ones that are considered “must-visit” is the Old Courthouse Museum in the city of Sioux Falls. The building is a treasure in of itself. It is three stories high, constructed using impressive amounts of quartz and stone. The inner walls are filled with historic murals that tell the story of South Dakota. Being inside the building has a calming and inspiring effect.
South Dakota’s music history often gets neglected and forgotten, so if you’re looking to go off the old beaten trail, stop by the National Music Museum. You’ll find more than just Dakotan musicians, though, here you will find different varieties of cultures, genres, and generations of music. There is literally something for everyone here, from Americana to International folk music.