Situated just south of Garretson, South Dakota, lies the unique landscape of Palisades State Park. Spanning 157 acres, it may be one of the state’s smallest parks but offers big scenery in towering cliffs and rock formations carved out of pink Sioux quartzite.
The park’s rugged rock walls tower up to 50 feet high on both sides of Split Rock Creek, exposing 1.2 billion-year-old quartzite. In addition to its captivating geology, Palisades holds cultural history as its quartzite contains pipestone deposits vital to many Native American groups.
Settlers were drawn to the area in the 1860s, establishing the town of Palisades around a large mill harnessing the power of Split Rock Creek. Though the city relocated when the railroad came through, remnants of this past, like an early 20th-century steel truss bridge, can still be explored.
Today, visitors to Palisades State Park can take in the natural pink-hued beauty along four hiking trails that wind through the cliffs lining the creek. Rock climbing is allowed on the formations (no bolts), delivering close-up views of the unique quartzite.
The park also offers camping with electric sites, cabins, and a lodge available to rent. This peaceful setting provides the perfect escape into the rugged splendor of South Dakota’s quartzite landscapes. Even in one of the state’s smallest parks, Palisades delivers big scenery and geology that shouldn’t be missed.
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