December 2, 2022

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Palisades State Park in Garretson, South Dakota

Glittering pink quartzite 50 stories high split by a babbling creek is an unexpected sight in the vast plains of South Dakota. Despite being the second smallest state park in the state, Palisades attracts hikers, fishers, paddlers, campers, and rock climbers. It is known as one of the best places to rock climb in the world because it has no anchors or bolting.

A geologist’s paradise, Palisades contains catlinite, or pipestone. This mineral is used by local Indigenous groups to make calmuets, ornately-decorated tobacco pipes used in traditional ceremonies. There are several quarries on the 157-acre park still being used for just that! The formations at Palisades are over 1.2 billion years old.

The power of Split Rock Creek (the bisecting creek of Palisades) has been used by pioneers since the 1800s as a mill. Low-quality silver was even found in the creek. The steel truss bridge that crosses Palisades is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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