So, you are starting your road trip in the state of Wisconsin and your final destination is the Black Hills of South Dakota…bet you are wondering what route you should take? After a stay or stop in Watertown, South Dakota, my suggestion is to take the northern route through the state, heading west along US Highway 212.
If you are looking for some offbeat attractions, then you’re in for a treat! Let me fill you in…
Fisher Grove State Park
This state park is located along the banks of the James River near Frankfort. Stop here for a picnic or go for a short hike on the Dakota Trail. It’s a great place to get out of the car for a while and stretch your legs. The Dakota Trail is a one mile long historic interpretive trail, a great place to let the kids burn off some energy and learn about the James River and surrounding wildlife!
Pheasant Capital of the World
Looking for the pheasant capital of the world? You found it, Redfield! Just northeast of Redfield is where the Chinese Ringneck Pheasant was first successfully released in South Dakota. The Ringneck Pheasant is South Dakota’s state bird and people travel here from all over the world to hunt this beautiful bird.
Faulkton is known to locals as Carousel City, for their famous carousel. If you’re driving through stop by and let the kids take a ride on the carousel. It’s free!! That’s right I said free! The carousel is located one block south off of Highway 212. Visit http://www.faulktoncity.org/historic_sites.htm to see the carousel’s operating hours.
The Cathedral of the Prairie
Hoven is home to St. Anthony of Padua, better known as The Cathedral of the Prairie! You might be thinking not another church, but believe me this one is different. It’s believed to be styled after Bavarian churches, but what makes it so unique is its size. To give you an idea the Cathedral is big enough to seat 1,200 people – Hoven only has a population of 522! The Cathedral is absolutely beautiful and one of the grandest forms of architecture in the entire state, maybe even the Midwest. Detour north of 212 on Highway 47, and take in the Hoven Cathedral. It’s a National Historic Landmark!
Dakota Sunset Museum
In downtown Gettysburg you’ll find the Dakota Sunset Museum. It houses many historical buildings, such as a barber shop, dentist office, law office, and one of the last old time, fully functioning Blacksmith shops in the country. Observe how things were done in the old days. You can also view the Medicine Rock, sacred to the Lakota people.
International Society for the Protection of Mustang and Burros
Located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the International Society for the Protection of Mustang and Burros (ISPMB) is an empowering force for the protection, preservation and understanding of wild horses and burros as well as their habitat. Situated on 680 acres, the ISPMB cares for three separate and unique wild horse herds. This is truly an amazing site to see, be sure to stop in and check things out. Call or email for more information: 605-964-6866 or 605-365-6991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Ash Monument
Between the towns of Maurine and Mud Butte, lies the Ben Ash Monument. This is a historical marker describing the first sighting of the Black Hills by the white man along the Bismarck to Deadwood Trail on December 26, 1875. Check it out and learn a little more about this history of this great state!
Geographic Center of the Nation
I love Belle Fourche and it just so happens that this quaint cowboy town happens to be the Geographic Center of the Nation! It is a rural community with traditional Midwestern values. The city is the trading center for a three-state agricultural area encompassing 21,000 square miles in NW South Dakota, NE Wyoming, and SE Montana. A hub for livestock auctions and wool shipping, Belle Fourche also is the center of a bentonite-mining industry. The downtown area’s architecture retains the aura of the early 1900s with many buildings containing antique shops. Check out the memorial at the Visitor’s Information Center as well as the museum before heading south into the Black Hills National Forest on Highway 85.
Experience more, experience South Dakota, and experience the offbeat attractions to enrich your trip. Highway 212 will take you through small time towns with quirky, unique attractions. Get off the beaten path and experience the hidden treasures waiting for you throughout our state.