Palisades State Park in South Dakota

by Leah Waldron-Gross Google

Whether you are a rock climber, hiker, canoe or kayaker, camper or all of the above, South Dakota's Palisades State Park (no website; 25495 485th Ave., Garretson; 605-594-3824) offers some of the best views in the state. Smaller than most of the state's parks, Palisades is home to the Coteau des Prairies rock plateau and Split Rock Creek.

History and Archeology

The glacial Sioux quartzite rock formations in Palisades State Park are more than 1.3 billion years old and contain some of the only catlinite, or pipestone, mineral deposits in the United States. Palisades State Park is also historically significant because it was the famous hideout spot of Jesse James after his bank robbery in Northfield, Minn. When he was found by local authorities, he allegedly attempted to jump his horse over Devil's Gulch. The jump is known as "Jesse's Leap" and is honored with a footbridge that crosses the canyon.


Many visitors to Palisades State Park spend their day canoeing or kayaking the cliffside Split Rock Creek, climbing the surrounding 50-foot-high rock formations, hiking the park's four trails or camping within the park's campground, which includes a 12-person-capacity lodge, 35 campsites and six four-person cabins. The campground is open year-round and includes shower facilities for those just getting back from a hike, climb or trip down the creek.


Reservations for a campsite, cabin or lodge at Palisades State Park are first come, first served and can be made online at Camp South Dakota ( or by calling 1.800-710-2267. At time of publication, nonresidents of South Dakota were charged a $7.70 nonrefundable reservation fee per camp site. The campsite fee was $18 for electrical hookup and $14 for nonelectrical sites. Four-person cabin rental was $37 per night and the 12-person lodge could be rented for $225 per night.

Rock Climbing Information

Palisades State Park gives rock climbers the opportunity to practice both rappelling and scaling, but bolting is prohibited on the park's glacial rocks. Before climbing, visit the park's visitor's center for a full list of the park's guidelines on rock climbing. The park's rock climbing brochure contains a full map of every hiking trail and climbing area in the park, including Rattlesnake, King & Queen and Balancing Rock.