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Spirit Mound Historic Prairie

Spirit Mound


August 25, 1804, was a stiflingly hot day when members of the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery visited Spirit Mound. They came to the site because they had heard that little people with big heads inhabited the mound. At the mound the expedition didn't find any little people, but did find a "most beautiful landscape."

Years later, the Flood Control Act of 1944, authorized the construction of six main dams in the Missouri River Basin. In addition to flood control, the intent of this act was to provide hydroelectric power. With the damming of the river, most of the sites where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped or visited are now underwater. There are very few places where a person can stand today and know that Lewis and Clark stood in the same exact location. Spirit Mound is one of those few special sites.

Prairie Restoration

In order to provide Spirit Mound visitors with an opportunity similar to what Lewis and Clark experienced, the site is being restored. Prairie grasses and other native plants are being reestablished. The prairie restoration began in 2001 and will take decades of growth before it becomes a good representation of the prairie as seen by the expedition.

Restrictions / Safety

DOT Road Report

Spirit Mound Recreation Area

31148 SD Hwy 19
Vermillion, SD 57069

GPS Coordinates

Lat: 42.867608
Long: -96.954431


HikingHistorical interest


Spirit Mound has a rich variety of prairie wildflowers and grasses and is home to Fritillary butterflies, birds and many other prairie animals.

Facilities / Services

  • Drinking water
  • Vault toilets

  • Picnic Tables
  • Hiking Trail (wheelchair accessible)

Park Specs


Southeastern South Dakota: 5 miles north of Vermillion off SD Hwy 19

Nearest Town




Location Map
Trail map and guide

Area Attractions

In Vermillion:


Park entrance license not required.