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Split Rock Creek through the trees at Palisades State Park

Situated along the Big Sioux River, just 30 minutes from Sioux Falls, Palisades State Park is a stunning public recreation area in South Dakota, known for its scenic beauty.

One of the main highlights of the park is a unique geologic formation called the ‘Palisades’. It comprises tall cliffs of pink and grey quartzite that rise up majestically from the Big Sioux River.

Photographers and painters draw plenty of inspiration from this sight. Although if you don’t have an inner Ansel Adams or John Constable to tap into, you could always partake in boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking.

This South Dakota state park covers over 157 acres, and many visitors choose to spend a night or two at its modern campground facilities.

These offer everything from RV and trailer sites with hookups to primitive backcountry and hiking trail campsites. So they cater to many different preferences and budgets.


Visitors to Palisades State Park can relish its picturesque surroundings in a myriad of different ways.

Presented below is a synopsis of some of the most regularly engaged in activities within its boundaries.

Boating at Palisades State Park

As it is situated along the Big Sioux River, the park offers easy access to it for boaters and paddlers.

For those who want to take to the water, there is a convenient boat ramp available for park guests to use.

Visitors who bring their own boats should be aware of the park’s boating regulations, which are designed to ensure the safety of other visitors and the protection of its natural resources.

Boaters should also be aware of the weather conditions and any potential hazards, such as low water levels or strong currents, before launching their boats.

Fishing at Palisades State Park

The promise of an abundance of fish species within the Big Sioux River attracts visitors from all over South Dakota.

With the likes of catfish, smallmouth bass, and walleye regularly biting, it is an excellent place for novice and seasoned fishing enthusiasts to cast a line.

If you want to try and catch some you will need to secure yourself a current fishing license, from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks.

Once you have got one though, you will be able to make use of the boat ramp and fishing dock which are located near the water. Visitors who wish to fish from a boat should be aware of the park’s boating regulations and should follow all safety guidelines, including carrying a lifejacket on board.

Hiking at Palisades State Park

Arguably the best way to appreciate the park’s breathtaking scenery is to hike along its river, and within its diverse landscape of forests, grasslands, and wetlands.

The park offers a variety of hiking trails that provide opportunities for you to do this. These include the River Trail, which presents fabulous views of the Big Sioux River and the park’s scenic cliffs, as well as the Nature Trail. A shorter, yet no less pretty hike through the park’s woodlands and along the river.

For those who really want a cardio workout, the Palmer Creek Trail leads visitors through the park’s rugged terrain and provides exquisite views of its scenic bluffs and valleys.

Prior to hiking, it is worth getting yourself fully prepared by wearing a hat, sunscreen, mosquito spray and appropriate footwear.

You should also bring plenty of water and snacks with you.

Picnicking at Palisades State Park

Palisades State Park has plenty of scenic overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the park and its surroundings.

Some of these overlooks have picnic tables and offer a great place to enjoy a meal with a view.

As well as these, there are a number of other picnic tables dotted around the park, as well as picnic shelters that are available to rent for celebrations or events. These shelters include picnic tables and grills.

Birding at Palisades State Park

Birding enthusiasts should make a point of packing their binoculars and a birding guide before coming to Palisades State Park.

With its varied terrain, the park is home to a plethora of different migratory and permanent resident bird species.

During your time at the park you should be able to see a variety of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, sparrows, and orioles. In addition, waterfowl such as ducks and geese are prevalent too.

The park’s picnic areas, nature trails, and boat ramp also provide some of the best opportunities for birdwatching, as well as observing the park’s wildlife.


You are more than welcome to bring your pets with you to Palisades State Park, although you should be aware of the park’s rules and regulations in relation to them.

To familiarize yourself with its pet policy, it is a good idea to liaise with the main office. However, you should know that your dog must be kept on a handheld, maximum 6 foot long leash during the whole of its stay at the park.

Unless they are a service dog, they are also not allowed in park buildings, picnic areas, or on park trails.


Palisades State Park offers a selection of camping options for visitors who want to spend a few days enjoying the beauty of the park.

Most people choose to stay at its modern campground, which has 50 electrical sites with 30-amp and 50-amp hookups, as well as water hookups and a dump station. This facility also has a shower building and a playground.

Alternatively if you are in a group of up to 40 people there is a group campground available onsite. It includes a large shelter, picnic tables, fire rings, and a fire pit.

Other more rustic options include backcountry camping and hiking trail campsites. Both of which are located in remote areas of the park and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

While primitive, these campsites do provide fire rings and picnic tables.

Park Location

Palisades State Park
25491 485th Avenue
Garretson, SD 57030
Phone: 605.594.3824

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Palisades State Park: