Scenic USA - South Dakota

Split Rock Creek

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Palisades Park - Garretson, South Dakota

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Ben's Panoramio Gallery

     Old folktales and myths, passed on from one generation to the next by word-of-mouth, were used to explain the mysteries of the natural world. Here in South Dakota, Indian folklore tells of a god from the spirit world who threw his tomahawk to earth creating a dramatic split in the land. Today's geologists identify the massive rock layers of this shear-walled canyon in Palisades Park as Sioux quartzite, interspersed with soft catlinite. Estimates date the rocky terrain of Palisades Park to be over a billion years old.
     Split Rock Creek, one of the forces responsible for this remarkable setting, forms a wonderful focal point for this southeastern Dakota parkland. Split Rock Canyon - Garretson, South Dakota Although it's one of South Dakota's smallest parks, the sheer cliffs here create a dramatic setting, as well as some of the best rock climbing in the state. The 80 foot towering rock cliffs provide energetic climbers with a series of routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.12. Here, organized groups hone their scaling and rappelling skills. For those who are looking for something more down to earth, the park's creek rapids and peaceful pools provide excellent fishing and swimming areas. Canoeists and kayakers, making their way through the canyon, are often humbled by the sight of its vertical walls and towering spires as they paddle Split Rock Creek.
     Four hiking trails are woven into the rugged landscape, following the twists and turns and the ins and outs of the split rock terrain. This unique section of southeastern South Dakota, nearby Garretson, offers more folklore. Escaping from a posse hot on his heels, Jesse James supposedly soared over the canyon on horseback. The park's recent history, including a pioneer village, flour mill and silver mine, is no match for the old legends and fables.

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