South Dakota: Fall in the Black Hills, Annual Buffalo Roundup Event, & Outdoor Activities


As the home of iconic destinations and a variety of must-see landscapes, South Dakota ends up on plenty of bucket lists. But with summer’s end comes a unique time to experience the state’s most beautiful locations. Here are three distinctly SoDak fall pleasures that belong on your bucket list.

Find the perfect spot to take in the colors of fall

Being home to six National Park Service sites and 56 state parks & recreation areas means there are plenty of peaceful outdoor spaces to take in the changing seasons. Sica Hollow State Park is home to both mysterious legends and some of the most beautiful foliage in the state. Palisades State Park combines changing leaves with quartzite cliffs. Why do visitors from around the world come to Spearfish Canyon every September and early October? It’s because the 20-mile Black Hills drive features more than 1,260 colorful plants that explode with color every autumn, producing sights so moving that one man provides annual color updates to anyone that asks. Check the latest report by clicking here.

Feel the thundering of hooves at the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

The normally serene Custer State Park erupts in cheers when cowboys and cowgirls conduct their annual roundup of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herd. One weekend every September, 1,300 bison are gathered in front of an audience of more than 20,000 excited onlookers. The roundup began as a way to monitor population and conduct medical checks, but it’s transformed into a celebration of the country’s national mammal. There’s nothing quite like feeling the ground shake as the entire herd charges down the beautiful hills of western South Dakota. Admission to the event is free, and attendees can also enjoy the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival held over the entire weekend. For more info, click here.

Enjoy some of the world’s best hunting and fishing in South Dakota

When the cornstalks turn brown, South Dakota turns “hunter orange,” welcoming hunters from across the world every autumn. Some come for their first hunt. Others enjoy a much-anticipated reunion with friends and family. In addition to pheasants, hunters can also pursue big game, waterfowl, turkey, and more. Whatever your game, lodge options and nearly five million acres of public land make it easy for residents and non-residents alike to make some memories.

There’s also the fishing! Nearly 98% of the state’s waters are publicly accessible and open for fishing, meaning you can fly-fish for trout in a flowing Black Hills stream, reel in trophy walleye from the Missouri River, or land bass and crappie at a northeastern glacial lake. Plenty of fishermen will tell you that there’s something special about casting your line in the fall in South Dakota.

Gorgeous leaves, galloping bison, the thrill of hunting and fishing — fall is the time to check off at least one box on your bucket list. Make sure to make the most of the changing seasons by experiencing autumn in South Dakota.

Photo credit: South Dakota Tourism

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