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National Get Outdoors Day Is Saturday, June 9th

South Dakota has 13 state parks and 43 recreation areas where families can enjoy traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities. (pixabay/kalasoft)
South Dakota has 13 state parks and 43 recreation areas where families can enjoy traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities. (pixabay/kalasoft)
June 8, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The recreation industry, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations have teamed up to host Friday's annual National Get Outdoors Day, encouraging American families to participate in traditional and non-traditional outdoor activities.

One goal of the day is to reach underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands. In recent years, many of those first-time visitors to the state have been from China, according to South Dakota Department of Tourism secretary Jim Hagen.

He says South Dakota was recently named, "Most Promising Destination" in the U.S. by a tourism group that partners with the China Travel Service Association.

"In this state we do have the national parks, and the memorials like Crazy Horse Memorial or Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Native America culture and the Old West culture that is really appealing to the Chinese visitor," says Hagen.

In a proclamation promoting the day, Gov. Dennis Daugaard notes that South Dakota has 13 state parks and 43 recreation areas where people can enjoy Get Outdoors Day.

In a 2017 United Van Lines Movers Study, South Dakota ranked fifth among the top 10 states for inbound migration, with newcomers citing employment as the biggest impetus for moving to South Dakota.

Hagen believes South Dakota's slogan, "Great Faces, Great Places" is partly responsible for the million visitors to Crazy Horse Memorial last year, and the more than three million who flocked to Mount Rushmore.

"I've always believed that tourism is the front door to economic development in any state,” says Hagen. “You know, we have a lot of jobs that are available even though our winters can be a little tough at times, we're a great place for people to retire."

Hagen says because South Dakota's landscape is relatively flat, it's also a great state for long-distance bicycling among other outdoor pursuits.

"This weekend I'm going to be kayaking in the eastern half of the state,” says Hagen. “From rock climbing to mountain biking to paddle boarding to kayaking to hiking, horseback riding, you name it."

Last year, the state saw nearly 14 million visitors who spent nearly $4 billion.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD