Rock climbing in South Dakota

Climbers on the rocks at Palisades State Park in eastern South Dakota. (Photo by Seth Tupper)When I visited Palisades State Park recently, I saw two groups of climbers on the rock walls that line Split Rock Creek. I’m not a rock climber myself, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. Whether I’d ever have the guts to try it is debatable.

For those who are brave enough, there are plenty of rock-climibing opportunities in the state. Palisades State Park is probably the best location in eastern South Dakota. In and around the Black Hills of western South Dakota, popular rock-climbing sites include Spearfish Canyon, the Needles and the Cathedral Spires of Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake, Devils Tower in Wyoming and the area around Mount Rushmore.

The Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes tourism association recommends that all visiting rock-climbers use a guide service:

With all the climbing in the area, first-time climbers in the Black Hills, novice or expert, are recommended to use a guide service. Use vacation time seeing the world from the summit, not hiking around looking for the climbing routes.

The one guide service that is consistently mentioned in South Dakota rock-climbing publications is Sylvan Rocks, in Hill City.

Here’s a video from the Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Association about rock-climbing with Sylvan Rocks (be patient; it might take awhile to start):

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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