Expansion plan for Palisades State Park

Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 10:51 PM CDT
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It is undoubtedly one of the more popular state parks in eastern South Dakota; Palisades near Garretson.

For years families have made memories amidst the red colored Sioux Quartzite formations.

While it's very popular it's also very small.

But that is about to change.

it is a place of beauty and a place to recharge your batteries, get back to nature and enjoy life.

"Palisades State Park is probably one of our smallest state parks in our system but at the same time it's the most busiest." Jeff Van Meeteren with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks knows those facts can lead to a bit of problem: a lot of demand for the park but no so much supply. And the numbers prove it out. "When you put the number of people that visit which is almost 100,000 a year on the square footage it's off the charts in terms of use."

The existing Palisades State Park encompasses 167 acres.

But a vigorous plan is in place that will add more than 267 additional acres to the park.

The South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been buying adjacent land to the park and then gifting it to the state specifically to be used to expand Palisades.

"It was in his family for three generations, It was his mother's." One of those parcels of land belonged to Diana Nelson's husband and was part of their farming operation. She tells us selling it off was the right decision for a worthy cause. "That would be a good legacy how to leave our land...knowing that there wouldn't be any houses built on there....and it would just be a nature area."

Once the expansion is complete there will be more room for camping and hiking, more room for parking. More room....period.

"You just want to buzz in there and it was kind of a big ordeal to get around that entrance." Park goer Ben Richard of Sioux Falls is happy a new park entrance will be designed but says with all this new space will come more people and he doesn't want the park to get dirty. He's worried about people littering. "Clearly there is a concern for waste. Maybe I would like to see them add some recycling bins out there."

Work on the newly expanded Palisades State Park will begin in 2020 with all work set to be completed in 2026.