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Weekly Column: Summer in South Dakota

Now that summer is officially here, many of us are planning family vacations and weekend getaways. With so many unique events across South Dakota during the summer months, people of all walks of life can find something that interests them. Whether you’re interested in fishing, kayaking, hiking, biking, boating, golfing or camping, just to name a few, you can do it here! Some of my favorite memories include weekends spent with family boating on the Missouri River or camping in the Black Hills.

South Dakota is a beautiful, diverse state with a rich history that attracts many world travelers. Travel and tourism are a major part of our economy in South Dakota. According to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, out-of-state visitors contributed $1.99 billion to our economy last year. That’s a growth of nearly 3 percent from 2013! This helps support the 28,000 South Dakota jobs that are tourism-related.

With so many activities going on this year, 2015 will undoubtedly be a big year for tourism in South Dakota. This August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally celebrates its 75th anniversary. From August 3 through 9, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world—bikers and non-bikers alike—will descend upon Sturgis to attend the rally. It is estimated that attendance for Sturgis this year could reach 1 million – more than our state’s population! In addition, Mount Rushmore celebrates its 90th anniversary.

South Dakota is home to six National Park Service sites and 56 state parks and recreation areas. Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park, the Mickelson Trail and Jewel Cave are just a few of the beautiful and unique places for tourists and South Dakotans to visit in the Black Hills. In the central and eastern part of the state, a number of glacial lakes and reservoirs are maintained by the Game Fish & Parks Department and provide for top-notch fishing, especially if you’re trying to catch walleye or smallmouth bass.

Often referred to as the land of infinite variety, each region of South Dakota has a unique landscape ranging from rolling prairies and peaceful lakes to majestic mountains and towering pines. Visitors can retrace the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, attend a powwow, plan a hunting or fishing excursion or experience the American Old West of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood.

Summertime in South Dakota is a great opportunity to explore all that our state has to offer. In addition to our historical landmarks and scenic parks, the kindness and generosity of the people of South Dakota are what keep visitors coming back time and time again. 

There’s no better place to spend quality time with friends and family than the great outdoors of South Dakota. I thank those South Dakotans who work in the tourism industry and make our state a fun, inviting and exciting place to vacation. I am extremely proud of all we have to offer and will continue to promote and advocate for the South Dakota tourism industry while working in the United States Senate. South Dakota is the land of great faces and great places!

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