10 Things To Do at the IWLA National Convention

South Dakota offers amazing landscapes and watchable wildlife – and our national convention in Pierre puts you right in the middle of the action! Take advantage of your time in South Dakota to visit a few of these national treasures.

Less than two hours from Pierre, South Dakota, you’ll find…

Badlands National Park
Don’t let the name scare you away! You can have a good time in the Badlands. The pinnacles and ravines of this wild place include one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Enjoy a drive – or hike off the beaten path – through the starkly beautiful landscape where Teddy Roosevelt came to hunt buffalo.

Buffalo Gap National Grassland
This area is home to more than 100 species, including the black-footed ferret – the most endangered mammal in North America. Other watchable wildlife include pronghorn, prairie vole, coyotes, jackrabbits, lizards, porcupines, red fox, and numerous birds. Several species rely on abandoned structures from the Homestead Era that remain on the grassland. The visitor center is located in Wall, South Dakota.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
The Minuteman Missile was an iconic weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal. This site was part of a missile field that included 15 launch control facilities and 150 missile silos that were operational through the early 1990s. Take a tour of an underground Launch Control Center and take a peek inside a missile silo (which now houses a training missile).

Head just a little farther west for….

Mount Rushmore
This tribute to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt was completed in 1936. Hike the half-mile Presidential Trail for views of each president, including markers with presidential history.

Devils Tower National Monument
Rising above the grasslands and pine forests like a rocky sentinel, Devils Tower was America’s first national monument, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act in 1906.

Crazy Horse Memorial
The world’s largest mountain carving in progress, this memorial’s mission is to honor the culture, tradition, and living heritage of North American Indians.

Custer State Park
This park in South Dakota’s Black Hills offers breathtaking scenic drives, from the granite spires of Needles Highway (named for nearby needle-like granite formations) to views of a 1,300-head bison herd along Wildlife Loop Road. Explore 71,000 acres of outdoor adventure, spectacular terrain, and an abundance of wildlife. Kids will enjoy the Junior Ranger Program and virtual geocaching, where nature provides the answers.

Walk in the footsteps of Wild West legends. You can mine for gold, pay a call on Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (in the graveyard), and root for your favorite gunslinger on Main Street. The town also offers a casino and spa.

Hot Springs and Woolly Mammoths
If you’re looking to relax, take a soak in the warm waters of Hot Springs. (Evans Plunge offers family-friendly water park fun.) The town is also home to the “Mammoth Site,” a museum and working paleontological site where you can view Columbian and woolly mammoth fossils in the ground where they were discovered. You’ll also find more than 80 other species of Ice Age fauna.

Wind Cave National Park
The sixth longest cave in the world, Wind Cave is known for its “boxwork” – thin blades of calcite that form a honeycomb pattern on cave walls and ceilings. This treasure is secreted beneath one of our nation’s few remaining intact prairies. Cave tours are available for visitors of all abilities, from the less strenuous “Garden of Eden Tour” to the off-roading “Wind Cave Crawling Tour.”

Travel Tip: Fly in or out of Rapid City, South Dakota, to be close to these western attractions.

Best Western Ramkota Hotel
920 W. Sioux Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 224-6877
Room Rate: $104++

Visit the League’s convention Web page at www.iwla.org/convention for links and more information.