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Why Visit South Dakota?

South Dakota, situated in the northern Great Plains region of the United States, is celebrated for its diverse landscapes, Native American heritage, and iconic national monuments. The state’s capital is Pierre, while Sioux Falls is its largest city.

South Dakota’s landscapes encompass the vast rolling prairies of the Great Plains, the majestic Black Hills with landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, and the scenic Badlands National Park. Its history is marked by indigenous Sioux tribes, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the gold rush era of the late 19th century.

pointy rocky mountains seen during a crimson sunset on one of the best time to visit South Dakota.

Steve Bower/Shutterstock

When Is the Best Time to Visit South Dakota?

The best time to visit South Dakota is during the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October. During these months, the weather is generally mild and sunny, with fewer crowds and lower prices than during the peak summer season (July and August).

  • Mild weather: South Dakota has a semi-arid climate, with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The shoulder seasons offer pleasant temperatures, making them ideal for sightseeing, exploring, and enjoying the outdoors.
  • Smaller crowds: The shoulder seasons are less crowded than the peak summer season, so you’ll be able to enjoy South Dakota’s popular tourist attractions without having to deal with large crowds. This is especially important if you’re visiting popular destinations like Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park.
  • Lower prices: Prices for flights, accommodation, and activities are generally lower during the shoulder seasons than during the peak summer season. This means you can save money on your trip without having to sacrifice quality.

Here are some specific examples of how you can enjoy the most of South Dakota during the shoulder seasons:

  • Spring (April to June): The weather in spring is typically sunny and mild, with occasional showers. This is a great time to visit for hiking in the Badlands National Park, visiting the Black Hills National Forest, and attending the many festivals that are held throughout the state, such as the Sturgis Wild West Days and the Crazy Horse Memorial Volksmarch.
  • Autumn (September to October): The weather in autumn is also typically sunny and mild, with occasional showers. This is a great time to visit for leaf peeping in the Black Hills, visiting the pumpkin patches, and attending the Halloween festivities in Deadwood.

While there are many great times to visit South Dakota, if you’re looking for the best weather and the most opportunities to enjoy the state’s natural beauty and attractions, then we recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn.

Average Temperatures by Month Average Temperatures by Month

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Climate in South Dakota

Summer Season Climate
Summer Season in South Dakota

South Dakota's summer season, from June to August, offers warm and pleasant weather, with temperatures typically ranging from 75°F to 85°F. It's an ideal time for outdoor activities, exploring the state's natural beauty, and visiting iconic attractions like Mount Rushmore. The warm and sunny weather is perfect for experiencing the diverse landscapes of South Dakota.

Rainy Season Climate
Rainy Season in South Dakota

South Dakota experiences rainfall throughout the year, with slightly more precipitation in the late spring and early autumn months. While there isn't a distinct rainy season, visitors should be prepared for occasional showers, particularly in May and September.

Winter Season Climate
Winter Season in South Dakota

South Dakota's winter season, from December to February, is cold, with temperatures ranging from 20°F to 35°F. This period is great for winter sports enthusiasts, with opportunities for skiing and snowmobiling in the Black Hills. It's also a perfect time for holiday festivities, exploring cultural events, and enjoying the serene beauty of South Dakota's landscapes.

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AI Disclaimer Disclaimer: This page was created with help from AI | Reviewed by: Andrew Helling, Editor-in-Chief