The Dakota Nature Park in Brookings, South Dakota, is a great example of land reclamation. It’s a historic site, but not for any of the usual reasons. It’s actually the site of an old landfill. City planners have managed to turn the once-avoided area into a beautiful wilderness attraction filled with trails and recreational activities.
The 135-acre Dakota Nature Park is designed as a destination park featuring a string of ponds perfect for kayaking or trying out a new fishing lure. What began as the city landfill is now a multi-purpose park with miles of bike trails and plenty of opportunities for visitors and locals to get out and explore nature. Located in the park is the Larson Nature Center; a 5,300 square-foot facility open to the public. The center will be used for recreational programming activities, as well as a rental hub for outdoor gear including: fishing rods, kayaks, canoes, adaptive bikes, snowshoes, binoculars and GPS units. Dakota Nature Park is open to public use for activities such as fishing, bird-watching, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, canoeing, kayaking and picnics.
I happened to be there early and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. If you’re planning to picnic while you’re there, they make some cool picnic packs these days.
Brookings is the home of South Dakota State University and it feels like a college town. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend dropping by Nick’s Hamburger Shop. They serve fantastic made-to-order sliders for practically nothing.