Fun Facts About South Dakota

Fun Facts About South Dakota

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South Dakota, the southern half of the the entire Dakota states, is was created on the 2nd of November 1889 and making it the 40th state of the United States of America. South Dakota is one of 12 midwestern states in the United States and it is located in the north-central region of the country. Most of the state lies in the Great Plains, which is a broad expanse of flatlands with parts of it being in Canada. There are lot of historical events and information to learn about South Dakota, these information are compiled as South Dakota facts contained in this article.

South Dakota is known for a lot of things and it has a very rich history. One of the most popular thing South Dakota is known for is the Mount Rushmore but that is just a tip of the iceberg when you look at all other facts about South Dakota. These South Dakota facts are compiled in this article below for the benefit of everyone who wants to learn more facts about the beautiful state of South Dakota.

Without any further ado let us dive into the list of South Dakota interesting facts.

South Dakota Facts

  • ¬†The reason for its name¬†

The state name is said to have originated from the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. The tribes are said to have dominated the area for many years and today, they contribute to a significant part of South Dakota’s population.

  • ¬†It is the 17th-largest state

South Dakota is the 17th largest state in the US as it has a total area of about 77,100 square miles.

  • ¬†It is 5th least populous state¬†

South Dakota is the 5th least populous state with only about 879,336 people living there.

  • ¬†Its capital

The capital of the state of South Dakota is Pierre.

  • ¬†It is not exactly the 40th state of the US¬†

When South Dakota was admitted to the union, it was alongside its northern counterpart, North Dakota. President Harrison, the 23rd President of the US, was the one who signed the statehood papers for the two states, but he shuffled the papers so no one knows which one was signed first. This makes it impossible to tell which became a state first so the two states are just said to be the 39th and 40th.

  • ¬†It has the 4th highest percentage of Native Americans

About 10% of the state’s population are Native Americans and there are nine reservations spread across the state.

  • ¬†The largest city in South Dakota¬†

Sioux Falls happens to be the largest city in South Dakota with about 21.9% of the total population of the state residing in the city. 

  • ¬†South Dakota’s neighboring states

South Dakota is bordered by North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota & Iowa, and Wyoming & Montana, to the north, south, east, and west respectively.

  • ¬†It is sparsely populated

South Dakota is the 5th least densely populated state in the United States as there are about 11 people per square mile. If you love to be a loner then you can choose to go stay in the state. 

  • ¬†It’d be the same size as Senegal

If South Dakota were to be a country, it would be the same size as Senegal.

  • ¬†¬†Its capital is the second smallest in the US

Pierre is the capital city of South Dakota. It was founded in 1880 and it was selected to be the state capital after the state joined the US. Pierre has 14,091 people residing in it and this makes it the second smallest capital in the US. 

  • ¬†¬†South Dakota’s nicknames¬†

The official nickname of South Dakota is Mount Rushmore State. Mount Rushmore has the carvings of four presidents and it is the most famous tourist site in the state with more than 2 million visits every year.

  • Its highest temperature

The highest temperature ever recorded in South Dakota was 120¬įF at Usta on July 15, 2006.

  • It is the 39th hottest state

According to weather data collected over a long period, South Dakota is said to be the 39th warmest state in the United States. 

  • Its lowest temperature

The lowest temperature ever recorded in South Dakota was -58¬įF at McIntosh on February 17, 1936.

  • South Dakota is divided into two

South Dakota is divided into two halves by the Missouri River, the two halves are known as the East River and West River.

  • Its official song

The official song of South Dakota is “Hail, South Dakota” by DeeCort Hammitt.

  • The most complete fossil of the T-Rex was discovered in South Dakota

South Dakota is where the most complete and largest fossil of Tyrannosaurus Rex was discovered. It was unearthed in 1990 and was named after the fossil hunter, Sue Hendrickson.

  • It is home to a former vice president

South Dakota is where Hubert Humphrey, a former vice president of the United States (1965 to 1969) was born. 

  • South Dakota’s motto

The official state motto of South Dakota is “Under God the People Rule”.

  • The geographical center of the US is in South Dakota

Belle Fourche, South Dakota, is considered to be the geographical center of the United States.

  • The modern hot air balloon was invented in South Dakota

Raven Industries located in Sioux Falls invented the first modern hot air balloon in the late 1950s.

  • South Dakota is home to more than a dozen national historic landmarks¬†

Throughout the state of South Dakota, there are about 16 national historic landmarks which contain archaeological sites, historic battlefields, mining sites, mounds, and villages. 

  • It hosts a mashed potato wrestling contest

In Clark, South Dakota, there is a mashed potato wrestling contest that is held every year. 

  • The first cyclotron was built by a South Dakotan

Ernest Lawrence of South Dakota is a Nobel prize-winning scientist, and one of his biggest inventions is the cyclotron, an atom-smashing machine.

  • ¬†South Dakota has two national parks

There are two national parks in South Dakota and they are Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park. The former is known for its frostwork (a needle-like growth) and boxwork (an unusual form of calcite).

  • It is a Republican state

Over the past 13 presidential elections in the United States, South Dakota has voted Republican.

  • South Dakota’s land was bought by the US


In 1803, the United States bought South Dakota’s land from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.¬†

  • ¬†The secrets behind its state flag¬†

Every state has some reason for its state flag design and South Dakota is no different.

On the state flag, you’d see the state seal on a blazing sun with the state name and nickname written around it. The nickname is below the seal while the state’s name is above the seal. The state seal is said to represent the abundant natural resources, industry, and commerce of the state. On the outer circle of the seal, you’d find “State of South Dakota‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúGreat Seal‚ÄĚ, and “1889” (the year it became a state) written on it.

  • ¬†It is a major producer of sunflowers¬†

South Dakota is a major producer of sunflowers in the United States, and it comes 1st on the list of states with the most sunflowers produced. Sunflowers are used to make a lot of things ranging from oil to dye.

  • It is the first state to allow voter initiatives

Of all 50 states in the United States, South Dakota is the first to allow voter initiatives after it was agreed upon in 1898.

  • ¬†It has over 150 species of butterflies

Well, flowers and butterflies go together. South Dakota is estimated to have more than 170 species of butterflies. If you love the beautiful little creatures then keep South Dakota high up on the list of places to visit when going on vacation.

  • It has 66 counties

There are 66 counties throughout the state of South Dakota, with the largest one being Meade County. 

  • ¬†It is home to the 4th largest reservoir in the US

In 1962, the Oahe Dam was completed on the Missouri River which is north of Pierre, South Dakota. The dam created Lake Oahe which is the fourth largest man-made reservoir in the United States. 

  • The black-footed ferret’s haven

The black-footed ferret is the most endangered land mammal in North America and the Sage Creek

G Wilderness in South Dakota is the place of the reintroduction of the animal. 

  • Famous people from South Dakota

South Dakota is home to some popular figures in the world. Some of them are Mike Miller, an NBA star, Brock Lesnar, a 4-time WWE Champion, and Billy Mills, an Olympic champion. Also, Russell Means, Racheal Bella, Gary Owens, Angela Aames, and Cliff Lyons are all from the midwestern state.

  • ¬†There are some weird laws in South Dakota¬†

There are some laws in South Dakota that are quite funny.

For example, you are prohibited from falling asleep in a cheese factory. Hotels in South Dakota are required by law to have two twin beds in each room and they should be 2 feet apart. 

Also, horses are prohibited from entering fountains unless they are wearing pants. 

  • ¬†South Dakota is home to the world‚Äôs only Corn Palace


Mitchell, South Dakota, is home to the world’s only Corn Palace which is made of more than 3,500 bushels of corn. Today, the site is a major tourist site as more than 500,000 people are coming each year to see the unique corn murals.

The real intention behind building the first Corn Palace was just to show people that the state has a climate that is good enough for agriculture. 

  • ¬†It is home to the third-longest cave in the world¬†

Jewel Cave is located about 13 miles west of the town of Custer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With mapped passageways 215 miles long, it is currently the third-longest cave in the world and second longest in the United  States.

  • It has more shoreline than Florida

This may sound quite funny but it is true. South Dakota has more shoreline than Florida as the state is home to a lot of lakes and other water bodies. 

  • South Dakota is home to the world’s largest petrified wood park

Lemmon is a city in South Dakota and it is home to the Lemmon Petrified Park which hosts the world’s largest petrified wood park. It has fossilized remains of life that are estimated to be about 50 million years old. The park is built out of petrified wood and stone. It is another tourist attraction in the state with more than 100,000 people visiting every year.

  • ¬†It hosts the largest sculpture in the world¬†

The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota is home to the Crazy Horse sculpture that is being built to honor American Indian culture and also educate others. When completed, the Crazy Horse sculpture is going to be the largest in the world with a height of 563 feet and a length of 641 feet. 

  • South Dakota is home to lots of birds species

In South Dakota, there are more than 400 species of birds, and about 200 species are native to the Badlands and the Black Hills. With this amount of birds, it is normal to know that bird watching is very common among residents. If you happen to be a fan of bird watching, make sure to join the South Dakotans in bird watching when you visit the state.

  • The first Sioux Native American to serve in US Congress was from South Dakota

Ben Reifel of South Dakota became the first Sioux Native American to be elected to serve in the US Congress in 1960.

  • It was home to North America’s deepest gold mine

Homestake Mine in South Dakota was once recognized as the deepest gold mine in North America until it was closed in 2002.

  • Its highest peak

The highest point in the state of South Dakota is in the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hill as there is an elevation that is 7242 feet above sea level.

  • Its lowest point

The lowest point in the whole of South Dakota is at Big Stone Lake, which is just 966 feet above sea level. 

  • South Dakota has the most bison and pheasants in the US¬†

Of all states in the US, South Dakota leads the pack when it comes to raising bison and pheasants. If you would love to see any of them, then make sure to visit the state.

Just so you know, Bison are large bovines in the genus Bison with the tribe Bovini while Pheasants are birds from the family Phasianidae.

  • It has more than 50 state parks¬†

Throughout South Dakota, there are 63 state parks. Some of them are Palisades State Park, Custer State Park, Bear Butte State Park, Fisher Grove State Park, and Hartford Beach State Park.

  • South Dakota is where the first set of surviving quintuplets in the US was born

South Dakota is where Mary A. Fisher became the first woman to give birth to a set of surviving quintuplets in the US, one boy, and four girls.


We have gotten to the end of the list of facts about South Dakota and definitely you must have learnt something new you never knew about the state of South Dakota. In the next section we would be answering popular and frequently asked questions about South Dakota.

FAQs About South Dakota Facts

  • What is South Dakota known for?

South Dakota is known for many things which include:

  1. Mount Rushmore
  2. The Badlands
  3. The Black Hills
  4. Agriculture
  5. Corn palace
  • What is South Dakota famous for?

South Dakota is famous for a lot of things which are included below:

  1. Mount Rushmore
  2. The Badlands
  3. The Black Hills
  4. Agriculture
  5. Corn palace
  • What is the nickname for South Dakota?

The nickname of South Dakota is The Mount Rushmore State.

  • What is South Dakota’s nickname?

South Dakota’s nickname is¬†The Mount Rushmore State.

  • What is South Dakota’s state animal?

South Dakota’s state animal is the Coyote.