Description - Unusual terrain and a colorful past make Palisades State Park one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. The park is popular among campers, sightseers, picnickers, rock climbers and hikers.
Flour and silver played an important role in the area's past. A huge flour mill was once located on the bluff overlooking the park. The mill was powered by a large water-wheel installed along the rushing Split Rock Creek. The once-bustling town of Palisades grew up around the success of the mill. In 1886, silver was discovered downstream. The silver ore proved to be low in quality, however, and the nearly 300 claims were quickly dropped.
A popular legend tells of Jesse James' daring escape near the area. After robbing a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, the James boys spent several days in a cave on Split Rock Creek. When Jesse finally abandoned the hiding place, he was surprised to find a posse close behind. Reaching Devil's Gulch, legend has it that he leaped across the sheer walls to elude the lawmen. A small foot-bridge now spans the gap, which is found two miles north of Palisades in a Garretson city park.
Palisades State Park is on the southern edge of the Coteau des Prairies, a series of glacial deposits that extend north and south for nearly 200 miles in eastern South Dakota. A thin layer of debris was deposited by glaciers atop the quartzite. Beds of dark red pipestone can be found between the layers.
This is one of the few areas in the nation where pipestone is found. The mineral was considered sacred by American Indians and depressions still remain where it was once quarried.
For millions of years, Split Rock Creek cut deep gorges through Palisades State Park. Geologists estimate the Sioux quartzite spires are 1.2 billion years old.
The cliffs and formations are used by organized climbing groups to practice their scaling and rappelling techniques. Bolting is not allowed on the quartzite formations. Please contact the park before you head out for other climbing regulations.
- Camping & Fees: $10/non-electrical, $13/electrical site. 35 sites (16 electrical). One wheelchair accessible site. 13 tent-only sites. Showers. Water.
Camping Cabins: Five cabins, one accessible. Each sleeps four people. $32/night.
Recreation - Canoeing on Split Rock Creek. Four hiking trails twist and turn through Sioux quartzite formations. Historic sites: bridge is a National Historic Structure. Horseshoe pits. Accessible picnic shelter. Picnic tables along the rugged cliffs and spires provide great views. Playground equipment. Volleyball court. Nearby golf course.
Fishing/Boating: Canoeing. Fishing in Split Rock Creek. License required.
Located 10 miles north of I-90, Brandon Exit 406