Fort Pierre, South Dakota

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Two things pushed the settlement of the state of South Dakota into high gear in the 1870s. The arrival of the railroad in 1873 was the first. The discovery of gold in the Blacks Hills a year later was the second. Fort Pierre was built even earlier (1832), and became the biggest fur trading station in the territory, dealing in as many as 17,000 buffalo robes each year. Fort Pierre was beautifully positioned, overlooking the Missouri River and became the destination of pioneering settlers, daring explorers and traders in the time of the South Dakota Boom. As of 2010 the city population had grown to more than 2,000 people (a 7 percent increase). Tourism has become one of the main drivers of Fort Pierre’s economy, as it is now in the whole of South Dakota.

Fast Facts

  • The first continuously inhabited settlement in South Dakota is Fort Pierre As many as 160,000 walleye were caught in Lake Sharpe, one of Fort Pierre’s great lakes, in 1997 alone.
  • Lake Oahe in Fort Pierre is 231 feet long and 205 feet deep; the Oahe Dam is 245 feet high and its spillway is 456 feet wide
  • Construction of the dam required 92 million cubic yards of earth and 1.12 million cubic yards of concrete

Accommodation Tips

AmericInn Lodge and Suites at Pierre and Fort Pierre is a modern, well maintained and pleasant inn with a friendly and efficient staff. The breakfast is better than one expects, with hot and cold items such as bacon, sausages, yogurt, scrambled eggs, milk, juice and fruit. Housekeeping keeps the guest rooms and public areas very clean and attractive. The rates are very reasonable considering the quality of the service and the amenities and facilities that are available. Holiday Inn Express Pierre/Fort Pierre is also highly recommended for business and other visitors. The rates are higher but in return you enjoy immaculate rooms, comfortable beds and delicious breakfasts. It is also a quiet hotel in a good neighborhood. Book your Fort Pierre Hotels with

Things to Do

There are so many things you can do in Fort Pierre’s National Grasslands alone. You can ice fish in winter for walleye, yellow perch, large-mouth bass and other pan fish species. You can hike and camp in the grasslands, go horseback riding over long stretches of lonely prairies, and observe deer and antelope. Public hunting is allowed but fall under rules and regulations of South Dakota. You can go swimming, fishing and skiing in Lake Oahe. You can also go camping in Fischers Lilly Park, the site of a historic meeting between the Lewis-Clark explorers and the Lakota nation’s representatives. You can drive through the 100 mile Native American Scenic Byway that passes through the heart of the Sioux Nation and South Dakota. It will only take 6 hours of your time.

Best Museums

The Verendrye Museum is the home of South Dakota memorabilia and artifacts that are closely connected to the history of Fort Pierre. It is named after the first Europeans to arrive in South Dakota and possesses a copy of the lead tablet that Chevalier and Louis Verendrye used to claim what was once the home of the Sioux nation for France.