Palisades State Park in southeastern KELOLAND has exploded in size this year. It used to be 157 acres. Now, it’s more than 424. And with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s signing of Senate Bill 178 this past March, the park received $500,000 for improvements.
On Thursday KELOLAND News visited Palisades State Park with Noem and learned about what’s coming and what a visitor can expect.
“I’m just a big believer that our parks are treasures for us, and that the public can use it, anybody can come down here and enjoy some of the greatest beauties in our state,” Noem said. “And there’s not a lot of opportunities in the southeastern corner of the state, at least not as many parks as you see in other areas, such as west river and out in the Black Hills.”
On this map, the old park is outlined by the yellow dotted line, while the addition is outlined by the pink dotted line. The 267.5 added acres were purchased by the state of South Dakota under Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration.
“This little park here in southeastern South Dakota was one of the most heavily-used parks in South Dakota, in our whole state park system, so by adding this, we’re going to be able to triple the number of campsites that we currently have here, and also provide a lot more acreage for day use,” said Jeff VanMeeteren, regional park supervisor with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
“I think the first phase will be a lot of planting of trees and grasses and building out the basic line of roads and how the trails will all connect to the current park,” Noem said. “Then the next phase will be starting to build those campsites, putting in some cabins that individuals can stay in.”
VanMeeteren says around 90,000 people visit the park annually. They’re aiming for a lot more in the future.
“Our, hopefully not too long-term goal, in the next three, four, five years is to triple or quadruple that,” VanMeeteren said.
Noem says the state made a half-million dollar commitment to this land because of numbers and demand.
“This is a busy corner of the state where a lot of people were asking for more access,” Noem said. “They want to be outdoors. I’m a big believer that the outdoors is something that’s good for people. They spend some time in nature and outdoors hiking with their families, that it’s something that mentally and physically benefits them.”