Homeschooling in South Dakota

National & State Parks

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National Parks in South Dakota Back to Top
Badlands National Park
Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Badlands Wilderness Area covers 64,000 acres and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances. Established as Badlands National Monument in 1939, the area was redesignated "National Park" in 1978. Over 11,000 years of human history pale to the ages old paleontological resources. Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 23 to 35 million years old. Scientists can study the evolution of mammal species such as the horse, sheep, rhinoceros and pig in the Badlands formations.
Jewel Cave National Monument
With more than 129 miles surveyed, Jewel Cave is recognized as the third longest cave in the world. Airflow within its passages indicates a vast area yet to be explored. Cave tours provide opportunities for viewing this pristine cave system and its wide variety of speleothems including stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, frostwork, flowstone, boxwork and hydromagnesite balloons. The cave is an important hibernaculum for several species of bats. Located west of Custer, South Dakota.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states. Most of the trail follows the Missouri & Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis & Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic & National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL & passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, & WA. Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis & Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis & Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Philip, SD
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is one of the nation's newest national park areas. It was created to illustrate the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development.
Missouri National Recreational River
Missouri National Recreational River offers natural beauty: the forested buff-colored chalkstone bluffs to gently rolling range bottomland; the brilliant white of migrating pelicans to the rich blues of prairie asters; the soaring majesty of resident bald eagles to fleeting glimpses of the wily red fox. It offers an exciting past for your enjoyment and enrichment, from Plains Indian tribes to Lewis and Clark to steamboat captains such as Grant Marsh. Here, you can experience the dynamic character of the river's ever-changing nature, with its islands, shifting sandbars, sloughs, and treacherous, deadly snags. Both the upper 39-mile reach and the lower 59-mile reach along the Nebraska-South Dakota border combine to form one of few sections of this once vast ecosystem along the "Big Muddy" that remains in a relatively natural state.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Keystone, SD
The four figures carved in stone on Mount Rushmore represent the first 150 years of American history. The birth of our nation was guided by the vision and courage of George Washington. Thomas Jefferson always had dreams of something bigger, first in the words of the Declaration of Independence and later in the expansion of our nation through the Louisiana Purchase. Preservation of the union was paramount to Abraham Lincoln but a nation where all men were free and equal was destined to be. At the turn of the Twentieth Century Theodore Roosevelt saw that in our nation was the possibility for greatness. Our nation was changing from a rural republic to a world power. The ideals of these presidents laid a foundation for our nation as solid as the rock from which their figures are carved. Each man possessed great skills and leadership of the brand our nation needed for the times. Today millions of visitors come to see Mount Rushmore and gain inspiration from these four great men.
Wind Cave National Park
One of the world's longest and most complex caves and 28,295 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest, and associated wildlife are the main features of the park. The cave is well known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. The park's mixed grass prairie is one of the few remaining and is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs. Near Hot Springs, South Dakota.


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