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South Dakota

South Dakota is a spread-out state with a low population, and a great place to find peace and quiet. It has varied, beautiful terrain and world-class tourist attractions. Skiing is great, whether you prefer downhill or cross-country. You can't really go to South Dakota without visiting Mount Rushmore, but Rapid City got into the act of presidential art too. Street corners in the center of town have life-sized statues of all of the POTUSes...or is it POTI? Probably not...Anyway, there are also memorials to Crazy Horse and to Wounded Knee, which is also the subject of an informative museum in Wall. The self-proclaimed world's only corn palace, in Mitchell, is a Moorish Revival building decorated with crop art. The grain mosaic designs were originally meant to showcase the fertility of the soil and great agricultural potential of the region, and the exterior art is redone annually. Custer State Park has a huge free-roaming bison herd, begging burros, elk, mountain goats, coyotes, prairie dogs, and bobcats. Badlands has dramatic buttes and canyons, and the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the USA. Check out the Geology Museum at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, which has most excellent fossils and dinosaur bones. To see large fossils in person, go to the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. You'll find a lot of down-home, American cooking in South Dakota. Meat-eaters will be happy with the roast chicken and thick burgers. Lighter options may include fresh juices, salads, and smoothies. In the cities, you can find some international cuisines such as Thai, Chinese, Indian, and even Nepalese. There are a few places catering to vegetarians with tempeh and black bean burgers. Vegetarians and meat eaters can both enjoy Middle Eastern joints with falafel and shawarma. Organic baked goods are a nice find. The variety of natural foods stores is pretty good, so if you have a cabin with a stove you can cook up your own healthy meals, or you can at least have some snacks for the trail. Most parts of the state are a little far from civilization; try to enjoy the wildness and solitude.