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Five Cool and Crazy Geological Wonders to See in South Dakota

1. Burning Bluffs. Located along the Missouri River in Southern South Dakota, in the general area between Fort Randall and Chamberlain, most recently cited near the Platte-Winner Bridge at Highway 44, you might get the chance to witness an odd phenomenon of smoke rising from the bluffs along the river. First reported by Lewis and Clark in 1804, as the bluff on fire. Have no fear, the bluffs are not on fire, but a chemical reaction between the water in the river and the shale, producing smoke and steam and a strong sulfur odor.

2. Black Elk Peak (formerly known as Harney Peak). Located in the Black Elk Wilderness of the Black Hills National Forest of western South Dakota, at 7,242 feet, it is the highest point in the Black Hills -- and highest in the state, and the view from the top offers amazing vistas of the surrounding area. Known for years as Harney Peak after U.S. General William S. Harney, whose troops fought against Native Americans during the Sioux Wars of the mid 1850s, the name was changed in 2016 to honor Native Americans, and specifically Black Elk, a Sioux holy man who experienced his greatest vision on the mountain top. A beautiful stone fire tower sits atop the peak, which you can only see by taking an 8-mile (RT) hike along Harney Peak Trail #9 from the Sylvan Lake Day Use Area at Custer State Park. Learn more at: Black Elk Peak.

3. Falls Park. Located right in the heart of the city of Sioux Falls, in southeastern South Dakota, this public park covers 123 acres, and has the Big Sioux River running right through it, with an average of 7,400 gallons of water per second dropping 100 feet over the course of the falls. The park includes a visitor information center with 50-foot observation tower, the Falls Overlook Cafe, the remains of the Queen Bee Mill, several sculptures, and an open air shelter. Find the park at North Phillips Avenue and Falls Park Drive. Every Christmas season, the park is home to Winter Wonderland, a display of lights and decorations. Two trails entice you to travel further, including the Big Sioux river Trail, a 19-mile trail that loops around the city, and the River Greenway, a paved bike trail that winds through scenic urban and wildlife areas. earn more at: Sioux Falls: Falls Park.

4. Missouri National Recreational River. Located in southeastern South Dakota, two sections of the mighty Missouri River still flow freely, and are a view into the great river's past. Once known as "Big Muddy," the river that flows through central South Dakota (and is one of the longest rivers in the U.S.) was known for shifting channels and frequent floods -- before being tamed by four dams in South Dakota, including the Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall, and Gavins Point dams. Happily, thanks to the Wild and Scenic rivers Act, about 100 miles of the river has been preserved, including a 39-mile stretch below the Fort Randall dam that flows in Lewis & Clark Lake, and a 59-mile stretch below the Gavins Point Dam that flows into a channelized section near Sioux City, Iowa. Several state campgrounds are along the banks of these two stretches. Learn more at: Missouri National Recreational River.

5. Spearfish Canyon. Located just outside of Spearfish, South Dakota, in the northern part of the Black Hills in the western part of the state, visitors will find numerous ways to experience the awe and beauty of nature in this deep, but narrow gorge carved by Spearfish Creek -- from simply driving along the roadways, to viewing waterfalls, to taking one or more hikes. For driving, read about the 20-mile Spearfish Scenic Byway. Some of the waterfalls worth exploring include Bridal Veil, Roughlock, and Little Spearfish Falls. In terms of hikes, consider one or more of these trails: Iron Creek (2-miles), '76 (1.2-mile), Roughlock (1-mile), Old Baldy (6-mile loop).

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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