Palisades State Park, located in southeastern South Dakota in the town of Garretson, is the second smallest state park in South Dakota. At 157 acres in area, the park is quite small compared to the vastness of other state parks in South Dakota. Although compact in size, this park packs a powerful visual punch, and the history of the area—complete with larger-than-life legends and tales—more than compensates for its small size.
The Coteau des Prairies, a flatiron-shaped plateau formed by glacial movement, is home to Palisades State Park. Known for its unique terrain and breathtaking views, Palisades State Park is a mecca for rock climbers, hikers, and campers.
Split Rock Creek, flanked by 1.2 billion-year-old, fifty-foot high quartzite rock cliffs and spires, offers some of the best rock climbing in South Dakota. Hiking trails snake through the quartzite formations and overlook the rushing waters of Split Rock Creek below. Canoe enthusiasts and kayakers enjoy stunning views of the towering quartzite spires as they paddle through Split Rock Creek.
Palisades State Park is one of the few places in the nation that contains catlinite. This mineral, also called pipestone, is found in the matrix of quartzite and is used by Native Americans for making peace pipes, or “calumets”. Several pipestone quarry sites can be found within the park.
Palisade State Park is where Jesse James made his infamous “Outlaw Leap.” According to legend, Jesse James robbed a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, and then hid out in a cave in Split Rock Creek. When Jesse thought he could flee the area, he was surprised to find a posse of lawmen close at his heels. A chase ensued, ending at the precipice of nearby Devil’s Gulch Peak. Here, Jesse supposedly spurred his horse on, and leapt across the canyon to Palisades State Park. Today, a footbridge crosses the canyon of this legendary leap.
Open: Year-round. Between Oct. 1 and April 30, showers, flush toilets and other water systems may be closed. Please contact the park directly for current status. Vault toilets usually remain open.
Park Size: 34 campsites, 6 cabins (each sleeps 4 people) and a group lodge
10 miles north of I-90, Brandon Exit 406
Nearest Town: Garretson