605 Outdoor Wonders: Good Earth State Park
By Anna Strictecky
Images courtesy of South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks
As far as natural beauty goes, Good Earth State Park stays true to its name with some of the most luscious greenery and landscapes that South Dakota has to offer. As we take a look at our next destination, we see a phenomenal natural beauty with a river that flows through and trees higher than the eye can see.
Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, southeast of Sioux Falls, is a national historic landmark, mainly recognized for its history as a settlement for thousands of Native Americans. The landscape along the Big Sioux River allowed the area to be very habitable, and much of the landscape remains today. It derives its name from a late 17th century Oneota Culture Indian Village complex that covered up to 3,000 acres spanning both sides of the Big Sioux River.
This is one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the United States. The river, abundant wildlife, fertile flood plains, availability of pipestone (catlinite) and protection from winds made the area an important gathering place for seasonal ceremonies and a significant trading center for many tribal peoples from 1500 – 1700 A.D. By 1720, Blood Run was abandoned and remnants of this significant archaeological site were nearly forgotten. Blood Run is the largest Oneota cultural site discovered to date in the upper Midwest.
Even though Good Earth doesn’t have an excess of different activities for one to do, the best part about it is being able to absorb all of the nature that surrounds. As I hiked around Good Earth, it gave me a chance to truly just walk around without the different tourist activities. Other than seeing a couple of visitors that were kayaking on the river, everybody else there was just soaking up the sun and the beauty of the state park around them. That, is why Good Earth state park tops my list of genuinely natural South Dakota beauties.