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South Dakota

South Dakota Geography

The fertile Great Plains of North America cover almost 75% of South Dakota. These plains are generally flat in the central states, however, in both North and South Dakota, much of it is hilly and somewhat rugged, especially in the west where steep flat-topped hills (buttes) dominate the landscape.

The Black Hills of western South Dakota, in the 2,000 to 4,000 ft. high range, stretch across its border into Wyoming. The state's highest point, Harney Peak, is located there.

Directly east of the Black Hills, the Badlands, a long series of unusually-shaped and brightly-colored buttes, domes and rolling hills cover the land.

In the far northeast the land fronting the Red River is flat, while in the south, small, rolling hills (the Prairie Hills) are the primary landform. The James River Valley (or basin) is mostly level ground with scattered low hills; from north to south it's the state's most productive farmland.

North Dakota's most important river is the Missouri; it rises in southern Montana in the Rocky Mountains, first flowing north then generally southeast across the heart of the United States, ending at the Mississippi River, just to the north of St. Louis, Missouri. It is the longest river in the United States (2,500 miles) (4,023 km).

Other rivers of note include the Cheyenne, James, Moreau, Red and White. The most significant lake is Lake Oahe, one of five major lakes created on the Missouri River by the U.S. government in an effort to eliminate the annual flooding of river lowlands.

For a detailed look at the topography of South Dakota, view this topographic map.

South Dakota Photographs

sioux falls waterfall

Sioux Falls Waterfall

South Dakota Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Plankinton Aurora 605
Huron Beadle 605
Martin Bennett 605
Springfield Bon Homme 605
Brookings Brookings 605
Aberdeen Brown 605
Chamberlain Brule 605
Fort Thompson Buffalo 605
Belle Fourche Butte 605
Herreid Campbell 605
Wagner Charles Mix 605
Clark Clark 605
Vermillion Clay 605
Watertown Codington 605
McLaughlin Corson 605
Custer Custer 605
Mitchell Davison 605
Webster Day 605
Clear Lake Deuel 605
Eagle Butte Dewey 605
Corsica Douglas 605
Ipswich Edmunds 605
Hot Springs Fall River 605
Faulkton Faulk 605
Milbank Grant 605
Gregory Gregory 605
Philip Haakon 605
Castlewood Hamlin 605
Miller Hand 605
Alexandria Hanson 605
Buffalo Harding 605
Pierre Hughes 605
Parkston Hutchinson 605
Highmore Hyde 605
Wanblee Jackson 605
Wessington Springs Jerauld 605
Murdo Jones 605
Arlington Kingsbury 605
Madison Lake 605
Spearfish Lawrence 605
Sioux Falls Lincoln 605
Lower Brule Lyman 605
Britton Marshall 605
Salem McCook 605
Eureka McPherson 605
Sturgis Meade 605
White River Mellette 605
Howard Miner 605
Sioux Falls Minnehaha 605
Flandreau Moody 605
Rapid City Pennington 605
Lemmon Perkins 605
Gettysburg Potter 605
Sisseton Roberts 605
Woonsocket Sanborn 605
Pine Ridge Shannon 605
Redfield Spink 605
Fort Pierre Stanley 605
Onida Sully 605
Mission Todd 605
Winner Tripp 605
Parker Turner 605
North Sioux City Union 605
Mobridge Walworth 605
Yankton Yankton 605
Dupree Ziebach 605

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.