There are few positives one can point to when speaking about our worldwide pandemic, and justifiably so. But there indeed are some. People are reconnecting with family members in unexpected ways after being holed up together for weeks.

The word staycation has never had more meaning than it does this summer of COVID-19. Some national parks have reopened by degrees and people are flocking to them, overwhelming staff and resources. But there are alternatives.

Here in South Dakota, we are blessed with over 60 beautiful state parks offering a long list of amenities and activities. In the Sioux Falls area, we are fortunate to have in close proximity, some really remarkable nature areas, including; Good Earth, Newton Hills, and Palisades State Parks, Beaver Creek, and Big Sioux Recreation Areas, and a bit farther south, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area.

The Discoverer, an online travel publication with 4.5 million readers, helps people to travel "to far off and familiar destinations" without ever getting off the couch. Their blog "highlights personal stories, insider tips, and unique discoveries".

Their mission is "to inspire discovery in our audience, whether that be in their own backyard or the far reaches of the globe." They enhance every issue with amazing photography as well as inspiring, educational content for everyone.

They recently decided to construct a list of the Best State Parks in Every State and I decided to share their picks for South Dakota and a couple of our neighboring states.

  • South Dakota - Custer State Park - - Rolling plains, granite peaks, gorgeous lakes, and trails, all contained in this 71,000-acre gem! As one of the country's largest state parks, it was named as one of the World's Top Ten Wildlife Destinations. Whatever you love to do in the great outdoors can be done in this gorgeous place!
  • Iowa - Backbone State Park - Picnicking, camping, hiking, lake activities including trout fishing, and rock climbing, are just a few of the activities to be found in this lovely park located in the northeastern part of the state. Also, the Iowa Civilian Conservation Corps Museum is located within the park and offers a glimpse into the work of the CCC since it was created in 1933.
  • Minnesota - Tettegouche State Park - This 9,300-acre park features a mile of Lake Superior shoreline, 6 lakes and 4 beautiful waterfalls, including the highest waterfall in Minnesota. It offers year-round camping, along with wildlife watching, including plentiful Peregrine Falcons, cross-country skiing, hiking, and more.
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Falls Park