Recent Op-Eds

Treasures in our Backyard

By: Senator John Thune

July 2, 2010

Students are out of school, the weather is warm, and summer has officially begun. Many South Dakotans have planned their summer vacations and are looking forward to a little relaxation in the sun. While many across the country have to travel great distances to enjoy the outdoors, here in South Dakota we only need to look to our backyard for opportunities to experience nature with our families and friends.

With over 50 state parks and seven national parks across our state, we are able to enjoy an array of outdoor summer activities afforded by our park system. South Dakota's sprawling landscape offers picturesque views and geography perfect for hiking, camping, fishing, biking, picnicking, boating, and scenic day drives.

Some of our most well known sites, including Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park, offer unique activities like hiking among prehistoric wonders, viewing wild buffalo herds, and exploring some of the world's most complex caves.

Our parks not only offer visitors an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities, but they also provide a slice of South Dakota history. Fort Sisseton State Historical Park, the fort named after the nearby Fort Sisseton Tribe, offers visitors a true sense of the western frontier. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail allows visitors a chance to experience the very spots where Lewis and Clark once stood during their expedition across our state. These are only a few of the dozens of opportunities families can enjoy, while learning about South Dakota's heritage.

Kimberley and I have had numerous occasions to share South Dakota's natural treasures with our daughters over the years. Family trips to Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and various state parks along the Missouri River, are memories we will always appreciate.

We are blessed with land that yields great outdoor activities and amazing sights to be seen. I hope that you and your family have an opportunity to enjoy our state's treasures this summer.