78 South Dakota Facts And Weird Laws

Last update:

Located in the central region of the US, South Dakota offers every reason to take a holiday. The state boasts historical monuments, cafes, and museums that keep tourists coming back.

Monuments like Mount Rushmore are some of the unique features you will find in South Dakota. The state has parks, memorials, and cultural attractions that make it a rare destination in the country.

Find out everything you need to know about South Dakota, including interesting facts about the state.

Best Fun Facts About South Dakota

  1. South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore.
  2. South Dakota is where the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex’s skeleton was found.
  3. Sturgis, South Dakota, is home to one of the world’s largest motorcycle rallies.
  4. South Dakota is home to the world’s only corn palace.
  5. The cow-to-person ratio in South Dakota is the highest in the nation.
  6. There are more cows than people in South Dakota.

South Dakota Facts—Politics And Government 

Sioux Falls City, South Dakota. Credits: Unsplash
  1. South Dakota is a solidly Republican state. Since admission to the Union, the Republican presidential candidate has only failed to win the state in five elections.
  2. South Dakota has 3 electoral votes in the electoral college.
  3. The state’s supreme law is the Constitution. It lays down the three branches of government, namely the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
  4. The governor, the commander-in-chief of the national guard, serves as the head of the executive branch. The current South Dakota governor is Kristi Noem.
  5. South Dakota has a bicameral legislature of 35 senators and 70 representatives.
  6. The state’s legislature meets annually for thirty days.
  7. The Republican Party holds a supermajority in both houses of the state’s legislature. 
  8. The South Dakota Supreme Court is the top court in the state. The Supreme Court has a chief justice and four judges.
  9. South Dakota has only one seat in the US House of Representatives. Only six other states have one representative in the US House of Representatives, namely North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and Vermont.
  10. The last time South Dakota had a Democrat governor was in 1974.

Similar Content

  1. Oklahoma Facts and Weird Laws
  2. Missouri Facts and Weird Laws
  3. Georgia Facts and Weird Laws
  4. Wisconsin Facts and Weird Laws
  5. Illinois Facts and Weird Laws

South Dakota Facts—History

  1. Paleo Indians were the first inhabitants of present-day South Dakota.
  2. The Mound building cultures lived in the area from 500 AD to 800 AD.
  3. The LaVérendrye brothers were the first Europeans to visit this region in 1743.
  4. The whole of South Dakota was originally part of Spanish Louisiana. 
  5. Under President Thomas Jefferson, the US government bought South Dakota in the Louisiana purchase of 1803.
  6. The Americans established Fort Pierre–a post for fur trading.
  7. The US government founded the Dakota territory in 1861. This territory included South Dakota, North Dakota, portions of Montana and Wyoming.
  8. The Dakota territory split into two due to political issues–South Dakota and North Dakota.
  9. North and South Dakota joined the Union in 1889.
  10. South Dakota was the healthiest, happiest state in 2018 (Gallup). 

South Dakota Facts-Geography

Credits: Unsplash
  1.  South Dakota is the 17th most extensive state with 77,116 square miles.
  2. Mount Rushmore state lies in the north-central portion of the US. It shares its borders with North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Montana, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
  3. Black Elk Peak is the highest point in South Dakota, with 7,242 feet. Big Stone Lake’s shoreline is the state’s lowest point at 966 feet above sea level.
  4. Butte County in South Dakota is home to the US’s geographical center.
  5. The Continent’s pole of inaccessibility is between Kyle and Allen in South Dakota.
  6. The Missouri River is the largest and longest river in Mount Rushmore state. The Missouri River runs through Central South Dakota.
  7. The major rivers are James, Cheyenne, White, and Big Sioux rivers in the Sioux nation.
  8. The eastern half of South Dakota is home to most of the state’s natural lakes. 
  9. The Missouri River has dams, creating four big reservoirs: Lake Francis Case, Lake Sharpe, Lake Oahe, and Lewis and Clark Lake.
Credits: Unsplash
  1. South Dakota has three geographical regions: western South Dakota, Black Hills, and Eastern South Dakota. 
  2. Eastern South Dakota is home to the Dissected Till Plains, Coteau des Prairies, and the James River Valley. 
  3. The Dissected Till Plains have fertile farmland and rolling hills. The James River Valley is a flat area.
  4. The James River Basin and the Minnesota River Valley form the Coteau Des Prairies borders.
  5.  The western half of South Dakota consists of the Great Plains.
  6. The western region of the Missouri River is home to buttes, rolling hills, ravines, and plains.
  7. The Black Hills is a region of low-lying mountains, including the state’s highest point –Black Elk Peak. The Missouri River splits this area into the East River and West River.
  8. Black Elk Peak is also the nation’s point in the eastern region of the Rocky Mountains.
  9. The Precambrian formations are the state’s oldest rocks.
  10. South Dakota has warm summers and cold winters.
  11.  The Mount Rushmore state experiences adverse weather in thunderstorms, ice storms, blizzards, and tornadoes.
  12. The state’s highest precipitation is approximately 760mm in a year.

South Dakota Facts—Animals And Plants

  1. South Dakota is a temperate grassland consisting of forested hills, lakes, rivers, and mountains.
  2. The state is home to several state parks, two national grasslands, and two national forests.
Credits: Unsplash
  1. The official state animal of South Dakota is Coyote. This animal inhabits the Missouri River and the Black Hills. Coyote’s howl is popular as the ” song of the west.”
Badlands National Park. Credits: Unsplash
  1. The state’s animals include elk, bison, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, and mountain lions.
  2. The official state bird of South Dakota is the Chinese ring-necked pheasant.
  3. The state is home to over 350 bird species, namely pheasants, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and prairie falcons.
  4. The state’s dangerous animals include the brown recluse spider, the black widow spider, grizzly bear, black bear, mountain lion, bison, and the prairie rattlesnake.
Bison. Credits: Unsplash
  1. The endangered animal species in this state include the whooping crane, paddlefish, Dakota skipper, and Eskimo Curlew. 
  2. The walleye is the state fish of South Dakota.
  3. South Dakota is home to the southern maidenhair fern, sweet flag, giant yellow hyssop, prairie onion, and white snakeroot.
  4. The official state symbols for plants include the state tree (Black Hills spruce), state grass (western wheatgrass), and state flower (American Pasque flower).

South Dakota Facts—Demographics

  1.  With a population of 886,667 (2020), South Dakota is the 6th least populated state in the country.
  2. South Dakota’s largest city by area and population in Sioux Falls.
  3. Other major cities include Aberdeen, Watertown, Huron, Brookings, and Rapid City.
  4. Pierre is the capital city of South Dakota state.
  5. South Dakota has around 10 people per square mile, making it the 46th state by population density.
  6. South Dakota experiences the “rural flight” where residents move away from the rural areas to the cities.
  7. Recent population statistics show more males (50.3%) than females (49.7) in South Dakota.
  8. Christians make up 79% of the population.
  9. Over 80% of the South Dakotan population comprises whites.
  10. The nation’s largest group of Hutterites live in South Dakota.
  11. German, Norwegian, Irish, Native American and English are the state’s largest ancestry. 
  12. South Dakota has one of the nation’s smallest populations of Asian Americans.
  13. South Dakota has more Native Americans than most of the US states.
  14. Over 90% of South Dakotans speak English as their only language.
  15. Only 64% of South Dakotans were born in the state.

South Dakota Facts—Economy

  1. South Dakota ranks 2nd in fiscal stability with natural environment (3), infrastructure(14), and education(19) as its key attributes.
  2. The service industry (finance, health care, and retail) is key to South Dakota’s economy.
  3. Ellsworth Air Force Base is one of the top employers in the state.
  4. Agriculture remains one of the important sources of income in South Dakota.
Agriculture. Credits: Unsplash
  1. Corns, hogs, wheat, soybeans, and cattle are some of the major agricultural products in this state. 
  2. Ethanol production and meatpacking industries promote South Dakota’s economy.
  3. Tourism is one of the largest sectors in South Dakota. Tourist attractions include Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, parks, and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
  4. Manufacturing industries account for 10% of the state’s jobs.
  5. Interstate 90 and Interstate 29 run through this state.
  6. South Dakota is home to two National Scenic Byways–the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway and the Native American Scenic Byway.
  7. South Dakota is home to Rapid City Regional Airport and Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

Famous Locations in South Dakota

  1. Mount Rushmore National Monument in Keystone is an iconic tourist destination. It features carvings of the heads of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.
Mount Rushmore. Credits: Unsplash@Dennis
  1. Badlands National Park is home to Bisons.
  2. Crazy Horse Memorial features a head carving of the Lakota leader, Crazy horse. You will get the opportunity to learn about Native American history and culture at the Indian Museum of North America.
  3. Wind Cave National Park in the northern region of Hot Springs is home to a karstic cave, one of the world’s largest cave systems.
  4. The Mammoth Site located in Hot Springs is home to over 60 Columbian Mammoth bones.
  5. Deadwood has a wide array of attractions you can visit, including the final resting place to “Wild Bill” Hickok, the Mount Moriah Cemetery.
  6. Spearfish Canyon features scenic cliff walls and falls, plus several roadside attractions.
  7. Custer State Park has scenic drives, picturesque views, and wildlife.
Custer State Park. Credits: Unsplash
  1. The National Music Museum in Vermillion houses an extensive collection of musical instruments. 
  2. Good Earth State Park in  Blood Run is the perfect place to learn the history and culture of the Oneota people.
  3. Sertoma Butterfly House is home to over 100 butterflies. Sertoma also has marine life at the Marine Cove. 
  4. Old Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls.

Famous People From South Dakota

  • Brock Lesnar, the professional wrestler, was born in Webster, South Dakota.
  • January Jones, the actress, was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
  • Adam Vinatieri, American Football Player, was born in Yankton, South Dakota.
  • Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, was born in Watertown, South Dakota.
  • Cheryl Ladd, the actress, author & singer, was born in Huron, South Dakota.
  • Hubert Humphrey, ex-US Vice President, was born in Wallace, South Dakota.

Common Misconceptions About South Dakota

Here are the common misconceptions that non-South Dakotans believe.

South Dakotans ride Buffaloes

The state is home to many buffaloes, but it’s not a legal form of transport.

South Dakotans don’t have modern technology

This state is as modern as every other state in the country. There is high-speed WiFi and everything else in the modern world.

South Dakotans love country music

This belief is true for some people. Just like in other states, not everyone loves country music.

Top 10 Weird South Dakota Laws

Here are our top 10 weird laws in the state of South Dakota. Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

  1. You shouldn’t sleep in a cheese factory.
  2. Disturbing mink den may lead you into trouble.
  3. It’s illegal to create static in Huron.
  4. It’s illegal to use a spotlight when you are hunting.
  5. You should threaten a Pacifist to an arm-wrestling match to convince the person to renounce their faith.
  6. It’s unlawful to use a throwing star while in Sisseton.
  7. Watching a movie showing a police officer being beaten is illegal.
  8. Hotels in South Dakota should have twin beds put two feet apart. It’s illegal to have sex between the beds.
  9. Farmers can set off explosives or fireworks to sunflower crops.
  10. Your horse should wear pants before entering the fountain inn.
Image: Unsplash

Final Thoughts

South Dakota is an excellent place to visit. The state has unique features, a rich cultural heritage, and fantastic history. 

We hope you enjoyed our compilation of interesting South Dakota facts.

What did you learn about South Dakota today?

South Dakota Facts And Stats

Population2020 (886,667)
GovernorKristi Noem (Republican Party)
Date Of AdmissionNovember 2, 1889
U.S. SenatorsMike Rounds(R)
John Thune(R)
US House of Representatives1 (of 435 Seats) 
State NicknameMount Rushmore State
State MottoUnder God The People 
“Hail, South Dakota” by DeeCort Hammitt
State FlowerAmerican Pasque Flower
State FishWalleye
State BirdRing-necked Pheasant
State TreeWhite Spruce
State MammalCoyote
State DrinkMilk
State MineralRose quartz
State GemFairburn Agate
State FossilDinosaur Triceratops horridus
Neighbor StatesIowa Minnesota Montana Nebraska North Dakota Wyoming

Frequently Asked Questions

What is South Dakota best known for?

  • Mount Rushmore National. Memorial.
  • Badlands.
  • Crazy Horse Memorial.
  • Corn Palace.
  • Glacial lakes.
  • Big Stone Lake.
  • The Black hills.
  • The Rocky Mountains.
  • Missouri river valley.

What are the 10 Interesting facts about South Dakota?

  1. Clark, South Dakota is home to the world’s famous mashed potato wrestling contest.
  2. South Dakota is home to the world’s only corn palace.
  3. Mount Rushmore was originally a mountain of rock.
  4. South Dakota is home to the Crazy Horse Memorial.
  5. The South Dakota state flag was changed in 1992 to avoid confusion with Florida.
  6. South Dakota State was once home to North America’s largest goldmine, Homestake Mine.
  7. South Dakota State is home to the popular Sturgis rally.
  8. South Dakota is home to Custer State Park.
  9. South Dakota has many national parks, including Badlands National Park.
  10. South Dakota is home to the geographical center of the nation, near Belle Fourche.

Related Content: 


[1] https://www.history.com/.amp/topics/us-states/south-dakota

[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_South_Dakota

[3] https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/south-dakota-ussd.htm

[4] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/south-dakota

Photo of author
Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

Leave a Comment