Really Though, You Should Visit South Dakota and Here's 8 Reasons Why

I recently spent 5 days exploring South Dakota...and let me tell you, this state is seriously underrated. I wrote about it for Upoxx's new lifestyle section (http://uproxx.it/1VUwlEt) but here's a list-ified version.
  1. 1.
    The Epic Wild West History
    When you think of America’s most famous wild west stories, chances are they took place in Deadwood, South Dakota. A massive gold rush in 1876 brought thousands of tough frontiersmen and women (and general lawlessness saloons, brothels, gambling and gun fights). Among them, legendary figures like Army scout Calamity Jane, Deadwood Sheriff Seth Bullock, and gunman, lawman and gambler Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot in the back of the head while playing poker. All are buried in Deadwood's cemetery.
  2. 2.
    There’s A Growing Craft Beer Scene
    Don’t be fooled, there is a craft beer scene in South Dakota and it is growing. And unlike in craft beer pilgrimage-worthy states like Colorado, California, Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Michigan where it’s near impossible to imagine craft beer getting any more popular, South Dakota’s craft beer scene is, comparatively, just catching fire and finding its footing. I wrote a full article just on SD beer here: http://uproxx.it/1VUwnfp
  3. 3.
    Custer State Park And Hiking To Harney Peak
    Custer State Park is an expansive 71,000 acre preserve in the state’s Black Hills that's jam packed with granite spires, rivers, lakes and wildlife -- but that's perhaps best known for its herd of roughly 1,300 buffalo. The herd is rounded up at the end of every September to manage its size and the spectacle is the park’s main event. Don't leave without doing the vigorous 7-mile (round trip) hike that leads to Harney Peak, the state’s highest point at 7,244 feet elevation.
  4. 4.
    Rapid City’s Charming Downtown
    I was surprised by how cool downtown RC was. On every street corner there's a life-size statue of a past U.S. President (make sure to high-fiving Jimmy Carter). Then there's Art Alley, a vibrant and colorful alleyway covered in street art that stands in contrast to the rest of downtown’s classic looks. After perusing the art galleries, boutiques, gift shops and restaurants, take a load off at Main Street Square, a beautiful public gathering place to catch summer concerts.
  5. 5.
    Wacky And Wonderful Wall Drug
    This famous roadside attraction, which entices well over a million travelers per year to make a pit stop in Wall (a town of just over 800 people), wasn’t always the South Dakota institution and collection of oddities that it is today (read the full article for extended history). Inside, aside from several stores, you'll find an arcade, a chapel, an animatronic T-Rex, a piano-playing gorilla, a six-foot tall jackalope and countless other oddball attractions providing endless photo opportunities.
  6. 6.
    Badlands National Park Is Unusual And Awe-Inspiring
    Once the floor of a shallow sea (65 millions years ago), the Badlands have been subjected to, and shaped by, tens of millions of years of harsh, drastic and ever-changing elements (parts look like the surface of Mars). And keep your eyes peeled for prairie dogs and North America’s most endangered mammal, the black footed ferret. For fantastic sunrise viewing, check out Door Trail. For a more challenging late morning Badlands jaunt, hike the 4.2 mile Medicine Root/Castle Trail Loop.
  7. 7.
    Sioux Indian Tacos
    Imagine, if you can, a thick, puffy, crisy and doughnuty-like piece of bread the size of a dinner plate. This is frybread and it’s the official bread of South Dakota. Now imagine that topped with lettuce, tomato, olives, shredded cheese, beans, salsa, sour cream, and of course, ground meat (beef or bison). This magical creation is a Sioux Indian Taco. Eat one post-hike at the restaurant at Cedar Pass Lodge, which is located right in Badlands National Park.
  8. 8.
    Mount Rushmore National Monument Does Not Disappoint
    Mount Rushmore is located in South Dakota (you’d be surprised by how many people don’t know this). And don’t listen to people who’ve been and say that Mount Rushmore is smaller than expected or that you can’t get as close as you think you can (blame all the gigantic, zoomed-in images). Mount Rushmore is beyond impressive, both in size and in the tenacity and skill it took to complete — especially considering carving started in 1927 and took 14 years to finish.