Nestled along the Big Sioux River surrounded by mixed grass prairie and an oak forest lies serene Good Earth State Park, only 10 miles southeast of Sioux Falls. This scenic area was once known as “Blood Run” and is considered one of the oldest human settled areas in the country.
Today’s visitors enjoy exploring trails by foot or kayak (along the extensive Jay Heath Canoe and Kayak Trail), picnicking, bird watching, fishing, biking, snowshoeing, and more.
Have a picnic, request a hammock from the Visitor Center and rest a while, or bring your bicycle and enjoy a peaceful ride along the park’s roadways. And if you’re thinking about visiting during the winter, you may be interested in snowshoeing. This South Dakota state park also offers a limited number of snowshoes for guests to checkout during their visit.
During your visit be sure to also stop in and check out the Visitor Center. Here you can learn more about the area’s flora, fauna, and cultural significance. This serene area is not only home to one of the oldest human inhabited sites (it was a trading center for the Omaha, Ponca, Ioway, and Otoe tribes between 1300 and 1700), it is also the largest Oneota cultural site in the upper Midwest area.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Good Earth State Park:
Boating at Good Earth State Park
Grab your kayak and check out a portion of the Jay Heath Canoe and Kayak Trail while visiting Good Earth State Park.
This extensive paddling trail follows the Big Sioux River from the Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon to Sioux City Iowa. Many launch sites and camping areas lie along the trail.
Hiking at Good Earth State Park
Good Earth State Park’s main attraction might just be its network of trails that wind throughout the oak forest, prairies of mixed grass and wildflowers, and along the impressive Big Sioux River. Guests may enjoy exploring these trails as well as stretching their legs on the paved roadways that connect the day use areas within the park.
Here are a couple of the trails at Good Earth State Park:
- River Lookout Trail – This easy 1.1 mile loop flows through the woodlands offering spectacular views of the Big Sioux River.
- Bur Oak Trail – Moderate 2.1 mile trail that winds through the native bur oak forest, across grassy sections and along the Big Sioux River.
Fishing at Good Earth State Park
Grab your angling gear and pick up a South Dakota fishing license on your way into Good Earth State Park. You may just catch catfish, carp, drum, bass, gar, walleye, or Northern pike from shore or boat along the Big Sioux River.
Birding at Good Earth State Park
Good Earth State Park lies within a thick woodland forest surrounded by wildflower grasslands and shrubs. This serene area offers ideal habitats for many types of birds, both native and migratory.
Here you may observe sparrows, warblers, Canada Geese, Bald Eagles, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, American Crows, Long-eared Owls, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Wood Thrushes, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, European Starlings, Northern Flickers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, and Cedar Waxwings.
For a better view stop into the Visitor Center and check out a pair of binoculars during your visit.
Nature and Wildlife at Good Earth State Park
This scenic area, once known as “Blood Run,” is possibly one of the oldest settled areas in the country, dating back to 1300. Between 1300 and 1700 it was an important Native American trading site. Today this picturesque wilderness attracts many species of wildlife including White-Tailed Deer, birds, snakes, lizards, turtles, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, prairie dogs, opossum, and coyotes.
Pets are allowed at Good Earth State Park but must be supervised, leashed, and cleaned up after. Pets are not permitted inside park buildings.
Good Earth State Park does not offer overnight accommodations at this time but there are many nearby options to consider, whether you are looking to camp or stay in a hotel, resort, or a charming bed and breakfast.
Nearby Palisades State Park, located at 25491 485th Avenue Garretson, has a campground and opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, and stargazing.
This serene park features 34 campsites, 6 camping cabins, and a group lodge, all available year round. The campsites are a mix of electric and non-electric. Campers have convenient access to flush toilets, showers, and drinking water May 1 through September 30. Water may be turned off in the park between Oct 1 and April 30, vault toilets are open during that time.
The group lodge has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, and living room area for groups of up to 12. This rustic lodge also has a deck that offers guests breathtaking views of the creek.
Good Earth State Park
26924 480th Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Good Earth State Park:
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