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SD Parks Celebrate 100 Years with Summer Selfies

Tourism in South Dakota, including tourist visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial, has risen to record levels in each of the last nine years.(nockewell/pixabay)
Tourism in South Dakota, including tourist visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial, has risen to record levels in each of the last nine years.(nockewell/pixabay)
July 11, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a nod to how much the world has changed in the past century.

The agency designed scavenger hunts at 29 parks and recreation areas that require a selfie be taken there in order to win prizes such as kayaks or camping and hiking gear.

Jim Hagen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, says South Dakota is the fifth least populous and fifth least densely populated of all 50 states.

That's why summer tourism is important to local economies.

"It's one of the largest industries in South Dakota, employs more than 55,000 South Dakotans,” he points out. “It generates almost $300 million in state and local tax revenue, about 11% of state tax revenue."

South Dakota's state parks and recreation areas range in size from the 19-acre Sandy Shore to the 71,000-acre Custer State Park in the Black Hills.

The scavenger hunts, which require knowledge of each park's attributes, continue through July 31.

The Game, Fish and Parks agency will select winners on Aug. 10 in conjunction with National S'Mores Day.

Hagen says tourism got off to a slow start this year because of late winter storms and massive spring flooding, but picked up over the Fourth of July.

He says many tourists come to see the state's iconic Mount Rushmore Memorial, which features the faces of four American presidents.

But he adds, they should also know about significant progress being made on the Crazy Horse Memorial being carved out of a mountain about 20 miles away.

"You are starting to see the arm and the outstretched finger pointing, the horse's mane,” he says. “Keep in mind that if you take just those four faces of Mount Rushmore, they fit right in the head of Crazy Horse, just to give you a size perspective."

Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux Indian chief who fought against removal to a reservation in the Black Hills in 1876. The monument has been in progress since 1948 and would become the world's second tallest statue, after India's Statue of Unity.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD