Activities For Dogs In South Dakota On Hot Days

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Introduction

While South Dakota is far more well-known for being cold, it still has its share of hot days during June, July and August, during which it regularly pushes over 80 degrees (and even up into the 90s!), which can be even more unbearable for those used to the regularity of nearly year-round cool-to-cold temperatures. And while the stoics of Mount Rushmore may not bat an eye, residents and visitors may be left scrambling for their shadows in an attempt to keep from getting cooked. Thankfully, there are a few places scattered throughout the state that offer the perfect escape and we're here to introduce them to you (if you're not already familiar).

Rapid City

Popular
0 Votes
Hot Day
Free
Easy
1 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Dog Bags
Leash
Sun Screen
Towels
Activity description
While South Dakota has plenty of great dog-friendly attractions, not all of them offer the opportunity to cool off. And even the ones that do might require a hefty drive, leaving many visitors weighing whether it's worth the trip. But if you plan correctly, you can make a nice day trip out of your visits, which means cooling off and at least a few hours of entertainment, which is a lot easier to justify spending the gas on. One hot spot to stay cool is in Rapid City, where you can take a refreshing dip, see some living sights from the comfort of your air conditioned car, and explore some unique animals, all of which are cheap, easy, and great ways to beat the heat.
Step
1
Tip the scales
The first stop we recommend is the Reptile Gardens. We know that may sound like a strange place to be dog-friendly, but the staff are extremely friendly and will even offer your dog some cool water if they're thirsty or get too hot (they do take care of animals after all!). But more importantly, there are several different activities they'll allow your dog to participate in. There is a ton to see from snakes, alligators, and giant tortoises to a bald eagle, all of which will keep you and your dog at a safe distance but close enough to get you a genuine in-person experience. Just make sure you call ahead to let them know and you should be set.
Step
2
The dip
Once you've thoroughly heated yourself up in the summer sun, we suggest heading over to Braeburn Off-Leash Dog Area. There is a significant amount of creek area for them to splash around in and soak in the cool water, plus some shade and open space for them to run to get their own natural and evaporative air conditioning in gear. Just make sure to bring several towels unless you don't mind driving home with a strong wet dog smell looming in your back seat.
Step
3
Drive-thru
Bears and dogs don't sound like two things that go together, but at Bear Country USA, you'll have the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with a safe barrier between you. While your dog can't join you in any walking areas, they are welcome to accompany you on the meandering three-mile drive that will have you seeing bears, elk, cougars, wolves, elk, and buffalo - and better yet, you'll have the air conditioning to keep you cool while you take in the sights. Plus, once you're all done, you can just turn right back onto the highway and head home, tired but thoroughly entertained!
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Sioux Falls

Popular
0 Votes
Hot Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 6 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Sun Screen
Towels
Activity description
While Sioux Falls has fewer dog-friendly attractions than Rapid City, there's still certainly enough to do in the long run, including cooling off in the gorgeous natural falls that cascade through the city. On top of that, there are several dining options and a few other stops you can make to fill up your day with some entertainment, so you can still make it a nice day trip even if that means driving a bit. Plus, it's cheap to moderate in price (depending on your food), easy to do, and should keep you both in and out of the sun without the threat of overexposure.
Step
1
Dog park tour
Believe it or not but there aren't a ton of dog parks in South Dakota, at least not in comparison to other nearby states. But Sioux Falls itself boasts four separate parks to check out. Lien Park, Spencer Park, and Family Park are all great options as they offer ample space to run, but they should be visited first before our last recommendation. These three boast limited cover overhead, so you'll want to keep your stay limited if it's sweltering and you should definitely load up on sunscreen if need be. The best part will likely be your last stop, which should be Falls Park, easily the most gorgeous and fun of them all. It consists of several large falls that course through the North End East neighborhood and your dog will have several access points from which to climb in a take a dip. They will need to stay leashed, but that won't stop them (or you in some facet) from cooling off in the flowing waters.
Step
2
Stay trimmed
After you've gotten them cooled off, we suggest getting your dog groomed. You can get them a bath and have them trimmed or at least brushed so they can survive the heat with a lighter coat at the nearby PetSmart - plus it will get them smelling and looking fresh before you catch some food!
Step
3
Eat the heat
Once you've got them all fresh, pick a spot to grab some grub nearby. Although there are quite a few dog-friendly patios in the area, we suggest picking one with a nice covered area so you won't roast directly in the sunlight, like Monk's House of Ale Repute. If it's not too hot, or possibly later in the day, you'll have more options to choose from as the heat fades, but when all is said and done you'll have stayed cool, found something fun to do, gotten them freshened up and had some good food to boot!
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Check Out a Classic

Popular
0 Votes
Hot Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
While the activities we've suggested above have given you some great outdoor options, sometimes it's just more comfortable to stay out of the heat completely and if that's the case, we have some suggestions for you as well. South Dakota boasts two iconic and kitschy spots you can check out with your dog, both of which offer shade and air conditioning so you'll never have to deal with the discomfort of overheating. They're both cheap, easy, and will provide a hefty amount of entertainment no matter how you look at it. Plus, if you're the road-tripping type, you can mark one or two more classic destinations off your checklist!
Step
1
Wall Drug
While there are only a few bumper stickers that are almost universally known like the classic "I Closed Wolski's", few rival "Where the heck is Wall Drug?" which is seen from coast to coast and everywhere in between. At its heart, Wall Drug is a (mostly) dog-friendly series of shops and both indoor and outdoor attractions that will provide plenty of entertainment. There are places to shop, quirky things to take pictures with, historic information, places to eat, and even statues and giant figures you won't likely find other places. Just make sure to ask staff where dogs are and aren't allowed, as there are food serving areas that will likely be more restricted.
Step
2
Corn Palace
Out of all the places you can visit, few are as aptly named as the Corn Palace - it's exactly what it sounds like. With a specific corn theme, this roadside attraction actually brings in over 500,000 tourists every year, thanks to their one-of-a-kind identity. There are tons of corn-made murals to check out (plus the building itself, which is a bit of a marvel), and they regularly host live music and other events throughout the year to keep things fresh and interesting. If you plan it right, you may even hit it during festival time!
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More Fun Ideas...

Get the Chills in Hermosa

It may not entirely cool you off, but it might still give you the chills! The Spokane Ghost Town is a former mining town that was left abandoned decades ago and can still be explored by the brave and careful (much of it is crumbling). If that's not enough, you can also check out the Okaton Ghost Town too!

Crazy Horse

It may not offer much in the way of shade, but due to the elevation, seeing the Crazy Horse monument, which is a massive stone carving, can be a fun way to catch a cool upper-mountain breeze and see some interesting sights (and views) to boot.

Conclusion

South Dakota may not be known for the heat, but that doesn't mean some summer days won't take you by surprise anyway. Hopefully, if they do, you'll be able to draw some inspiration from our list or even find a few cool spots of your own (pun intended). If nothing else, you can always check our other South Dakota guides in case any of the other activities work just as well in rain, cold, or shine!