I recently was able to spend time in Chamberlain, a community that sits along the Missouri River in South Dakota. I’ve been through and stopped in Chamberlain dozens of times in my life, but I hadn’t ever had the time to stop to explore and give it the discovery time it deserved.

I drove in on an early fall morning taking the back roads from Pierre. Dozens of pheasants showed their beautiful colors alongside the road, knowing they were still safe before opening pheasant weekend arrived in a few weeks. The river winded to and fro carving out beautiful landscapes in the distance. It was a beautiful and relaxing drive.

Arriving in Chamberlain, I first checked out the downtown which was host to many cute shops and restaurants. The South Dakota Hall of Fame was first on my list of places to see followed by lunch at the classic Al’s Oasis – buffalo burger it is! As a South Dakotan, you’re bound to recognize a face or two in their large dining room. By the way, don’t skip the pie while you’re there.

The highlight of the trip for me however, was the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. It sits on the pristine grounds of St. Joseph’s Indian School. The museum serves as an educational outreach portion of the school. Inside is a collection of art, artifacts and educational displays that proudly showcase the heritage of the Lakota people.


For me, it was more than a museum. The recent updates to the museum made it feel as though I was re-living history step-by-step. The format made the information very easy to digest and understand. The octagon shaped building allows you to embark on a circular tour exploring the Camp Circle, Two Worlds Meet, Broken Promises, and Continuity and Change sections of the museum.

A new component to the museum is a very interactive section called Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi (We Stood Here in the Beginning). This new center depicts the lives of students who have attended St. Joseph’s Indian School in the past and present. Students from the school often come to the museum to discover the history of the students who attended the school before them. The exhibits are engaging, interesting and very interactive. An audio tour is available for guests or visitors can join guided tours at 10:30 and 1:30 Monday through Saturday.

Inside is also a renowned collection of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota art, including a must-see painting “The Alter” by Bobby Penn who was influenced by Harvey Dunn.  The collection of art by Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota artists is impressive.

This was one of my favorite museums that I have been to in a long time – it’s now a favorite part of Chamberlain for me and I plan to get back frequently as there was so much information to take in for just one visit.



Outdoor Campus West

by Katlyn Richter on January 8, 2014 · 0 comments

On the western side of Rapid City, there is a place that catches you off guard the first time you arrive. You’ll feel as though you’re heading out of town and away from the “hub” of the city, and likely take notice of an impressive structure. The building sits on several acres of both tame and untamed land. Anyone know the place I’m referring to?

It’s the Outdoor Campus West, located on Adventure Trail off Sturgis Road. It is managed by South Dakota’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks, and the mission is “to provide education about outdoor skills, wildlife, conservation and management practices of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to all ages in order to preserve our outdoor heritage.” And it does just that.

The last time I was there I had the opportunity to do quite a few things – many that I’ve tried before, and a few things that I wasn’t so skilled at. It’s all housed in the comforts of a facility with someone nearby to field questions.

First, I tried my hand at archery. Now, I’ve tried several times before, but never have spent a lot of time with it; I’m definitely still a beginner. During this experience, I learned how to raise and lower my aim by adjusting my feet, where to best put my fingers and hand to create balance and steadiness for accuracy, and even had a friendly competition with those I was visiting with. Let’s say I didn’t win this competition! (Not surprising as I was also experimenting to see if I did better left or right handed!)

 (winner of the archery competition)

The exhibits inside provide interactive learning experiences and a chance to look at the animals that call South Dakota home with impressive taxidermy pieces throughout the building. They often hold educational classes inside for the general public or school groups that frequent the facility.

Where I really had fun was outside on the rock climbing wall. There were three levels of difficulty, and my friends and I again had a “friendly” competition. This one got a bit more heated than the archery – all in fun! We raced to the top and strategized over how to conquer the hardest difficulty side. None of us completed.

The grounds at Outdoor Campus West provide an opportunity to get out and explore nature, but right in city limits. There is a tree house to explore, pretend, and play. There are walking trails to take a leisurely walk or get some exercise. There is even a mud pit to make your own mud pie. It’s a place that provides opportunities and chances to get outside and explore; something that we need more of these days.



Main Street Square

by Katlyn Richter on November 14, 2013 · 1 comment

this is a guest blog post from Main Street Square in Rapid City.


Oct. 23, 2013

By Anna Seaton Huntington

In early October, sculptor Masayuki Nagase and I recorded an interview with StoryCorps. The nationwide oral history project had a mobile unit at Main Street Square for a month this fall.

The StoryCorps experience was surprisingly intimate and conducive to reflection and conversation. Yuki and I spoke for 40 minutes and only got through three of my nine questions. Some of our conversation is transcribed below.


Anna Huntington: Could you describe your first impressions of this region?

Masayuki Nagase: It was almost 30 years ago, I was driving through Nebraska with my then girlfriend to get to Colorado. A chemical factory fire closed the road we were on so we decided to take a detour through South Dakota. It was such a strong contrast from the flatlands of Nebraska to the Badlands. I was just amazed by how the landscape changed and by how striking the space is.


AH: How did you initially hear about the Main Street Square sculpture project?

MN: I’ve been working for public art projects for more than ten years, so I get mailings and emails from different agencies announcing jobs. When I first saw this opportunity advertised in the winter of 2011, I thought, ‘Well, that’s an interesting place.’ I had such a great experience in the Badlands and my fresh memory was still in my mind. I read the information and the scope of work and thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can be a semi-finalist and travel back there once.’


AH: You’ve said before that you were surprised to be chosen as the artist for this project, why?

MN: As part of the selection process, we were invited to come and observe the surrounding environment and talk to people about a wide range of topics. So, when I saw what kind of work was around, I really felt maybe my work doesn’t fit here. Many things are very representative and also the theme of the work here is very different from what I do. I’m kind of a naturalist, so always I choose essence of nature as the theme of my works, so that’s one reason I thought people wouldn’t be interested in my work here.


AH: What happened when you got the phone call saying you’d been selected?

MN: I was watching the Presidential election returns with my family and when the phone rang and I saw that the call was from Rapid City, I thought, ‘Oh, I forgot something at the hotel, or there was a delivery problem with my model.’ So I just turned off the phone. I didn’t think of connecting the call to the selection at all! When [project manager, Pat Wyss] called the next day and said the committee had recommended me, my first reaction was, ‘Are you sure?’ I was shocked actually. It was a total surprise.


AH: Can you talk about how you developed your design concept for Passage of Wind and Water with the selection committee’s requirement that it include the natural and cultural history of the Black Hills and Badlands?

MN: I had to present some basic design concept as the first step in the selection process. It was very difficult to figure out what I can do and what works for this place without really knowing it.

I always start by studying the nature of the region and I was able to do that initially online. The region’s cultural history wasn’t really clear to me and so I started to read about that and learned about the very complicated history of this place. I wondered how can I bring those elements into this design. That’s what I haven’t done before, brought those human elements, the story telling, into my work. It was kind of a challenge to me…

So I set up the natural elements of wind and water, which bring all sorts of change in the natural environment, as the visual themes. But since I’d read about the waves of geological and historical change in the region, I decided to choose this whole transformation and change as the main theme, as the conceptual foundation. I wanted to include quite a big span of time because geologically the Black Hills emerged such a long time ago. And I wanted to include that time before humans appeared in this area and all the change of life of this region. I wanted to include human history as part of that, not as the focus. I am still dealing with life of nature in general in this region.


AH: How did your observations of the project’s location at Main Street Square inform your design?

MN: When I first came to Rapid City, I observed this square and how people used this space. I stayed two days after the official visit because I felt I needed to observe things and get material. I also checked out the stone compositions and from my observations, I guessed the landscape architect’s concept. It was very clear that he wanted to have some barriers between the Square and the outside street and space. But at the same time he wanted to have interaction and opening so it’s not completely closed. It’s not transparent, but kind of translucent. So that gave me the idea, it reminds me of the folding screen that we have in Japan. If you look at the stones, it’s huge blocks, but basically a panel. So that gave me the idea and the confidence to compare to a screen. So I thought I can bring two different, contrasting designs to the outside and the inside of the granite pieces.


AH: Can you talk about how you approached your design for the two 35-foot-high spires? How did you come up with the idea of including community members’ handprints and the idea that the spires would represent our community’s hopes for the future?

MN: The spires were the most surprising structure. And we were asked to include them in the sculptural composition and carving process. I wasn’t quite sure what I could do and it was hard to tell much from pictures. I found I couldn’t carve them too much because they are basically made of stone panels and can’t take much impact.

I was thinking not just for the spires, but for the whole composition, looking at the forms and textures the landscape architect created and thinking how physically I can deal with these compositions and material. It’s already installed. Usually I work from raw material and in my studio I can roll it over and work with it in the ideal position. But here, it’s not possible, everything is installed and in its position and I can’t change its direction. That’s a huge challenge.

Also, in the process of developing the design concept, from my observations of the Square, I thought this sculpture has to be for the community people. The Square is really community and so somehow I wanted to include the community peoples’ ideas and thoughts in my project. But I didn’t know them, so somehow I wanted to figure out how to include their thoughts and opinions in the project, or at least the inspiration of their thoughts. So my answer was carving relief in the entire composition. My concern was how to maintain this kind of harmony the landscape architect created. I didn’t want to do something to lose that strength.

And another thing, it was very clear to me from the beginning that all 21 pieces have to come together and say one thing. If I don’t keep the simplicity, then it’s a failing. So I wanted to really have integrity behind all of the pieces saying the same thing in the end.

When I was thinking about the concept for the work and I brought up the theme of transformation and change and noticed from my observations all the change that has happened in this region, I thought it’s very important that people understand this change is always inevitable. Our life is basically very unpredictable and impermanent. Impermanence is the essence of all life. That is a truth. We have to really see that, we have to really accept that. And through that, if you really understand this impermanence, we’ll get peace in our minds…

You can say it’s Buddhist, but I’ve read about Lakota philosophy and they are very close to nature. Their belief is very beautiful. They often talk about spirit, but basically they are giving everything to this nature. That is what they’re understanding, they receive everything from nature, their life depends on nature’s will. So that’s what I thought of connecting to this understanding of impermanence… The important thing is that we just appreciate this moment.

Find out more on these websites:




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South Dakota Hall of Fame

by Katlyn Richter on October 10, 2013 · 0 comments

The South Dakota Hall of Fame is housed in a beautiful building sitting on the banks of the Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Inside you’ll find the stories of hundreds of influential South Dakotans, which showcase the great works being done by people in the Mount Rushmore state.

While the Hall of Fame was established in 1974, it was in 1996 that the state legislature designated the South Dakota Hall of Fame in Chamberlain as the official Hall of Fame for South Dakota. It is a non-profit organization that has a board of directors and a full-time staff who stand behind the mission of the organization.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame offers the opportunity for visitors to learn more about the people that make up the Great Faces of the state’s Great Places. It’s an interesting place for kids too, with interactive displays and trivia about inductees.

Each year, up to 15 people are inducted into one of five established categories: professional, arts & entertainment, historical, general, and sports. The 2013 induction ceremony took place on September 14, when 10 individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The 2013 inductees included Miles Beacom, Ruth Brennan, Bernard Christenson, Shirley Halleen, William “Bill” Janklow, Dr. Dennis Knutson, Pat Lebrun, Thomas Louis Lillibridge, Jerry Shoener, and Charles “Chuck” Trimble. The Hall of Fame’s website gives a complete biography for each person inducted.

Notable faces that have been inducted to the Hall of Fame over the years include Mary Hart, Terry Redlin, Tom Brokaw, Al Neuharth, and Crazy Horse.

It’s a great place to stop to learn more about the state’s diverse set of people who have contributed to the progress of the state, shaped the way of life and values for South Dakotans, and to simply honor those who have forged the way with their leadership, professionalism, and values.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame is located just off Interstate-90 at Exit 263. Visitors are able to come year round. Memorial Day through Labor Day hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Winter hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Adjacent, and within very close walking distance, is the South Dakota Veteran’s Park. The goal of the site is to honor all South Dakota military veterans and active duty personnel for their service. The park will continue to develop over the next few years.



The 1880 Train and Prairie Berry Winery have been teaming up for years to bring visitors exceptional events in two beautiful Black Hills communities. They also put on some really great events individually. I recently visited both places, and was very impressed with my experience while there. Exceptional service, and lots of fun were had by everyone that I was with at these beautiful properties. I picked up a flyer detailing out the up-coming events at both locations. I thought I would share the details with our followers on this blog. Please visit their websites for more information.

Prairie Berry Winery Events: 

Pink Slip Ball
October 12, 2013
7-10 p.m.
Get your pink on for a good cause and a good time. Prairie Berry Winery and the American Cancer Society offer you the unique opportunity to drink delicious (pink) wine, eat fantastic (pink) food, wear fabulous (pink) formal attire and dance to great music. Helping fight cancer has never been this much fun. Tickets are available by contacting Prairie Berry Winery.

Pumpkin Bog Festival
October 1-13, 2013
No admission fee.
What does fall taste like? Pumpkin Bog wine! Grab a sweater and join us in welcoming Pumpkin Bog back for the season and celebrating the cool weather, changing colors, and crisp crunch of fallen leaves. Free, family-friendly activities Saturdays in October.  More information on www.prairieberry.com

Harvest Dinner
Oct. 25 & 26, 2013
Tickets are $50 each
Enjoy a harvest-inspired menu paired with Prairie Berry’s wines and learn more about winemaking and the people who do it.

Sip and Shop
Saturdays, Nov. 9, 16, 23 & 30
No admission fee.
Find unique gifts (and maybe a little something for yourself) while enjoying free live music at the winery. Pick up a glass of wine and browse the expanded merchandise department for unique items for everyone on your list, wine-lover or not. Ask about our custom gift baskets for a one-of-a-kind South Dakota gift.

Fezziwig Festival
Saturday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $35
Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $35
Designated drivers save $5.
The Fezziwig Festival is back for its 10th year at Prairie Berry Winery! Enjoy this Dickens-inspired holiday party with your friends while doing your holiday shopping. Tickets include four glasses of wine, foods paired to go with each wine, live music, a chance at wine giveaways, a keepsake wine glass, merchandise specials, and shuttle service between Prairie Berry Winery and Hill City.

For more information any of these Prairie Berry Winery events, visit www.prairieberry.com or call 605-574-3898.

1880 Train Events: 

Holiday Express
November 29
2:30 & 4:15 p.m.
November 30
12:45 & 2:30 p.m.
December 14
2:30, 4:15 & 6 p.m.
December 21, 22 & 23
12:45, 2:30, 4:15, & 6 p.m.

Experience the magic of the Holiday Express as you take a journey to the North Pole where Santa will be waiting to board the train. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies from Santa’s elves. Each child will have the chance to meet Santa and receive a small Christmas gift. Perfect for the whole family!

The ride will take approximately 1 hour. Tickets are $28 for adults, $12 for children (3-12), 2 and under ride free. For details on reservations visit www.1880train.com or call 605-574-2222.



Upcoming Wacipi Celebrations

by Katlyn Richter on August 28, 2013 · 1 comment

Experience colorful finery, elaborate featherwork, and intricate beadwork along with bountiful culture at a powwwow, or “wacipi” in South Dakota. Wacipi, pronounced WA CHEE PEE, is Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota for “dance.”

For your weekend planning and cultural enjoyment, we’ve compiled a roundup of festivals happening over the long Labor Day weekend and into September:

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Fair (Rodeo and traditional powwow)
August 30-September 2
Location: Eagle Butte, South Dakota
605-964-6685 or 605-538-4477

Winner Labor Day Wacipi Celebration

August 30-September 2
Location: Winner Community Grounds, Winner, South Dakota

Pahin Sinte Labor Day Wacipi & Rodeo
August 31-September 2
Porcupine, South Dakota
Later in September:

South Dakota State University’s 23rd Annual Wacipi
September 14-15, 2013
Location: Swiftel Center, Brookings, SD
Contact: 605-688-6416

Annual American Indian Days Celebration “Gathering of the Wakanyeja” Powwow
September 20 & 21, 2013
Location: St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, SD
Contact: 605-734-3300

September 14, 2013
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Memorial Park

If you’ve never been to a powwow, we encourage you to get out and experience this event. These events are open to the public. Pack a lawn chair or a bring a blanket and sit back and enjoy the day! Typically there are unique food vendors on site as well.


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South Dakota is home to many gems. Home to places that hold influence to domestic and international travelers; places like Mount Rushmore National Memorial and The World’s Only Corn Palace. It is home to local finds, and quirky stopping points. One thing in common between all of these places is the story to be told.

There is one place in South Dakota that I have visited in the last year that really screams, “this is South Dakota” to me. That place is the Redlin Art Center in Watertown. I was able to get back to the Redlin Art Center after not having visited for a few years. Immediately upon walking into the building you are flooded with a sense of coziness. A sense that you are really going to enjoy the time you have to spend.

The 52,000 square foot building is filled with 155 original oil paintings from Americana and wildlife artist Terry Redlin who truly has a great eye for romantic realism. Terry is considered to be one of the country’s most widely collected painters of wildlife and Americana.

I think the reason why I get an overwhelming feeling of “true South Dakota” when I walk in, is because Terry Redlin gave this beautiful art center back to South Dakota as a gift of thanks. He easily could have put this building near the Twin Cities where he went to art school. But instead, Terry, who was named America’s Most Popular Artist eight years in a row, chose South Dakota as the home to his impressive art center.

Terry’s story is unique. His interest in outdoors themes can be traced to his childhood in Watertown. He lost one of his legs in an accident at the age of 15. Shortly after, Terry was granted money by the state of South Dakota to put toward school. He made the decision to attend a notable art school in Minnesota.  He worked as a commercial artist and illustrator for many years. His career as a wildlife artist did not begin until age 40.  From 1977-1984, Terry was selling original oil paintings as income for his family and to support his business. In 1985, Terry’s son, Charles, convinced him to stop selling originals so that one day a museum could be built. The Redlin Art Center opened in 1997. In 2007, Terry retired from painting. This year he turned 76.

Terry’s paintings are ones that are easy to understand and easy to relate to, especially those that live in the Midwest. Walking through the galleries in the Redlin Art Center gives you an appreciation for his work as an artist, and you can see the development in the style of his work through the course of his career.

One of my favorite galleries is the “American Portrait” series which walks through what life looked like growing up in a small, classic, American town. As the series progresses, you notice subtle changes on the exterior of the house, a boy grows from childhood to college to being enrolled into military, the seasons change, and we’re reminded that freedom is never free. Terry’s inspiration to finish this series was 9/11.

The Redlin Art Center has recently begun incorporating sketches to compliment the paintings. Some of the sketches date back to Terry’s earliest days as a five year old, doodling on the back of papers at his dad’s work. Some are sketches from his later days as an artist, which when accompanying the finished piece, help the visitor understand Terry’s line from concept to completion.

The art center sits on an impressive 30 acres, known as the Terry Redlin Conservation Park; it includes both groomed grounds and natural habitat. There are 1.5 miles of walking trails outside and a gazebo for visitors to enjoy the surroundings.

It’s an overall impressive attraction that South Dakota is both proud and fortunate to have in our state.


guest blog post by Anna Huntington, Destination Rapid City community arts coordinator

One of the largest public art projects in the United States is coming to life in Rapid City this summer — and you can be part of it!

Master sculptor Masayuki Nagase started carving The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water at Main Street Square in the heart of Downtown Rapid City on July 1. The artist works on the 21-piece granite sculpture on site at the Square most weekdays. Using traditional hand tools and working behind a safety barrier equipped with large viewing windows, Nagase carves his design depicting the natural and cultural past, present and future of the Black Hills and Badlands.

Masayuki Nagese carving on opening day, July 1

 The massive Sculpture Project includes two “Garden Tapestries” of stones that are punctuated by two 35-foot-high granite spires. Nagase’s work is always inspired by nature and his visual design theme for the pieces of granite in the Badlands Garden Tapestry along Main Street is wind. For the Black Hills Garden Tapestry along Sixth Street, his theme is water. The artist’s design describes the impact of these natural forces on the landscape and inhabitants of the region. His overall theme for Passage of Wind and Water is transformation, change and hope.

Nagase trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo and has worked as a stone sculptor for more than 30 years. He lives in California with his family and will be working on The Sculpture Project during the summer months over the next three to five years.

The artist was selected by a community-based selection committee from an international pool of nearly 100 applicants last year.

As a large, outdoor public artwork in granite, The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water builds on the region’s sculpting tradition established by Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest outdoor sculptures.

The Rapid City project takes the area’s sculpting tradition in a new direction, too, as a work that incorporates community input and is intended as a tribute to the community. Over the winter, Nagase held a series of community design workshops to gather information about people’s connection to nature in the region and will continue that process as the project unfolds. Before he carves the two spires, he will take handprints from community members, which he will sandblast into the spires in an upwardly spiraling pattern indicating hope for the future of the community.

You can catch the artist at the Square most weekdays. On some Fridays, when he’s finished working, Nagase will give informal talks describing the project and the week’s progress. Some Thursdays, you’ll find the artist at his studio in the nearby Dahl Arts Center, which he’ll open to visitors from 3:30 to 5 p.m.


Find out more at the project’s website: www.rcsculptureproject.com and follow us on Facebook.


Custer State Park is a South Dakota staple that many visitors enjoy while on their vacation through the state. The park is the second largest state park in the nation, boasting 71,000 acres of land filled with wildlife and countless breathtaking views.

The Wildlife Loop Road through the park is a visitor favorite and provides great opportunities to see the roaming bison, prairie dog towns, the begging burros and antelope. This loop road is open to anyone who has paid admission into the park. The entry fee is just $6 per vehicle for a day pass (or $30 for a year of entry to all state parks if you’re a regular). It sure is an affordable way to enjoy fine South Dakota scenery like the wildlife, beautiful lookouts, and Needles formations throughout the park.

Custer Resorts also offers a Buffalo Safari Jeep Ride through the park. I’ve been to the park dozens of times, and have been on a jeep ride a handful of times. Each time, I know I’m in for a ride! The staff members that drive the jeeps are well educated about the park, the Black Hills area, and the animals that call the park home. I always know I’m in for a treat and bound to learn something new.

This time, we had Dave as our driver. Immediately I clicked with Dave as he might have been sassier than I am! We had a great time playing park trivia, bumpin’ along looking for buffalo, and seeing how many prairie dogs we could spot in the park.

Make sure you visit Custer State Park on your trip through South Dakota, and take a jeep ride too!


This post is provided by Jenna Carda, intern for South Dakota Department of Tourism

If you are like me, you love seeing all the baby animals in the spring. How could you not? They are adorable! So when the opportunity came for me to go to Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, S.D. – I jumped on it.

When you walk into the building, you are immediately captured by all the indoor exhibits. I felt like a little kid wanting to run and look at everything the minute I walked in the door! From native South Dakota fish like trout and walleye to clownfish, lionfish, turtles and insects there was a lot to see.

In addition to the displays there are classrooms for their children’s educational lessons. From zoo detective classes to learning about animals around the world in 50 minutes, the educational opportunities sound like a great experience.

As you walk outside you can enter a bird cage. Inside, there are beautiful birds all around while you stroll along a path in a wonderful garden.

From there, you can check out any of the animals the zoo hosts from the animals found in South Dakota like bison, peacocks and prairie dogs to large jungle cats and monkeys.

I must say that my favorite part of the entire zoo was indeed the monkeys. There are lemurs; there are capuchins; there are spider monkeys. So many to see! And do I need to express how adorable the babies were? Clutched to the backs of their momma, they were comfortable as can be. Some of the lemurs even put on a little show for us, hanging upside down and running from branch to branch.

Hands down, spring is a great time to go to the zoo. In addition to baby animals, plants are blooming and the weather is great. Check out TravelSD.com for more information on zoo locations in the Mount Rushmore state.

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