As we drove across the border from Minnesota to South Dakota, I entered unchartered territory. For the first time since Amy and I started road tripping I was in a state that I never set foot in before. Not to worry, the “Welcome to South Dakota” sign made me feel at home.

Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls is a typical midwestern small city – conservative, clean, and filled with friendly people who say “Hi” to strangers with dogs. The city has received several accolades, including Forbes naming it the #1 Best Small Place For Business from 2005-2009.

Sioux Falls maintains more than 50 parks and green spaces spread throughout the city. We visited the best known Falls Park, which was created around the city’s namesake waterfalls on the north side of downtown.

Ty - Sioux Falls, SD

Sioux Falls, SD

A popular feature of the park system is a paved 16-mile pet friendly path used for biking, jogging, and walking. The path follows the Big Sioux River, forming a loop around central Sioux Falls.

We also enjoyed walking S. Phillips Avenue in downtown. There were several boutique stores and restaurants with pet friendly sidewalk seating.

Sioux Falls was just a brief stopover for us. As much as we liked what we saw, we did not see anything that would warrant Dog Fancy magazine making it a top 10 pet friendly city.

Badlands National Park

Cross the Missouri River Valley on I-90 and you’ll understand “Great Plains.” The farther we drove, the more I was moved. It was if you could still see first, Native Americans, and then, early white settlers living on and off the prairie land. Then, out of nowhere, the Badlands.

To the Lakota Indians, who controlled this part of the Dakotas before the white homesteaders arrived, this area was the mako shika, “the bad lands.” Sculpted by 75 million years of sedimentation and erosion, the Badlands are composed of ridges and buttes, gorges and gulches, and pinnacles and precipices. It contains THE most fossil-rich beds in the WORLD, dating from 25 to 35 MILLION years ago.

We drove the 31-mile loop through the national park and took the pictures you see below. At certain picnic and rest areas, we were able to get out of the car with Ty and Buster – but, generally the park is NOT pet friendly. As we walked the erosion-etched landscape it was easy for me to imagine that we were on another planet, or at least in another country. Seriously … look at the photographs … does it look like any geography that you’ve ever seen?

The Badlands, SD

The Badlands, SD

The Badlands, SD

The Badlands, SD

The Badlands, SD

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, the owner of this site earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

(Visited 12,374 times, 1 visits today)
  • Thanks for your info on dog friendly parks and places. Heading to South Dakota soon and your articles are a big help.

    • You’re so welcome! South Dakota is absolutely beautiful – I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time. Thanks for your note, and safe travels to you!

    • Hi Lynn! Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the viewing platform at Mt. Rushmore. The Crazy Horse monument is much more pet friendly!

    • Don’t bother with the visitor centre; drive the Iron Mountain Road (south to north), and there are several spots where you and your dog can pull over and get a great view of Mt Rushmore, including the road tunnels that were built to frame the sculpture. It’s so big, it was never meant to be viewed up close, anyway!

      • Thanks so much for your note, Ian! I completely agree – the views from Iron Mountain Road are spectacular, and pet friendly. Happy travels to you!

  • Sioux Falls has a great off leash dog park called Spencer park. We stop there every trip in between our home in Minnesota and the Black Hills. People are great a wonderful well maintained dog park.