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  • New to South Dakota

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    Welcome to South Dakota!

    Moving to a new state is a major ordeal. If you're feeling overwhelmed right now, that's understandable.

    But don't worry ... we're here to help.

    We may not be able to help you unpack, or give you directions to the nearest grocery store, but we can help you with other driver-related matters and with finding your way around the many driving responsibilities you'll have as a new resident.

    Be sure to check the bottom of this section, where we tell you a little more―that's not driver-related―about your new state.

    Alright, to begin, no matter how busy you are, you'll need to locate a DMV office nearby, and you'll need to get your vehicle titled and registered within the first 90 days of moving here.

    It's a good idea to get your South Dakota driver's license at the same time. If you already have a valid driver's license from another state, transferring it is a snap. Plus, the state expects you to get your license once you've been here for more than 90 days.

    Of course, you'll also be receiving new license plates, so you might want to familiarize yourself with what's available.

    You'll need to have proof of car insurance to drive on our roads. And, if you have a disability and require a special plate or placard, you should read our Drivers With Disabilities section.

    We know you don't want to think about this right now, but it's a smart move to familiarize yourself with our point system and our various traffic laws.

    We also offer helpful information about such topics as how to become an organ donor, and how to register to vote.

    We hope you don't have to use it, but South Dakota does have a Lemon Law in case your new vehicle is not behaving as it should.

    And, if you want the nitty-gritty on all South Dakota's driving-related laws and regulations, just check our section on Vehicle Codes.

    Discovering South Dakota

    Chances are, if you're reading this, that you've already moved to South Dakota, and you don't need us to tell you about your new state's rugged beauty, or how much there is to explore.

    But, we will, anyhow.

    Indeed, there is so much beauty and wonder to discover here that the state's Department of Tourism decided to divide the state into four distinct sections, just so you won't feel overwhelmed.

    Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes

    Composed of roughly the western-third of the state, this area features jaw-dropping beauty.

    • Custer State Park 71,000 acres of wilderness featuring unique granite formations, and a collection of elk, mountain goats, and―1,500 bison.
    • Badlands National Park Named by the Lakota tribe, the Badlands showcase 244,000 acres of other-worldly formations and landscapes.
    • Mount Rushmore National Memorial It's Mount Rushmore―need we say more?
    • Black Hills National Forest Named for the abundant pine and spruce trees that make the majestic mountain ranges appear black, the park offers 1.2 million acres for hiking, biking, camping, and sightseeing.
    • Sturgis Rally Every August, hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts converge on this tiny town (population 6,400) to celebrate cycling and the spirit of independence.

    Great Lakes

    This region, which makes up the middle-third of South Dakota, is home to Pierre, the state capital. It features four reservoirs dammed from the Missouri River, resulting in 443 miles of outdoor fun, including fishing, camping, and boating.

    You'll also be able to explore Native American reservations, and several Lewis and Clark sites.

    Glacial Lakes and Prairies

    Located in the northeast corner of the state, this region was formed by glaciers and now features lush, rolling hills, and countless lakes.

    Many Dakota tribes and frontier soldiers called this area home, and you'll be able to trace their past at many historic sites.

    Southeast

    Located in the, well, southeast corner of South Dakota, this area is home to Sioux Falls, the state's most populated city (124,000). Yes, there are falls in Sioux Falls; in fact, there are three of them.

    You'll also find the "World's Only Corn Palace" located in Mitchell, composed of more than 3,000 bushels of grains, grasses―and corn, of course.

    Lewis and Clark Trail―Follow in the footsteps of the famous explorers, from where they entered the state up to the northern fringes.

    No matter where you travel in South Dakota, you'll notice the ever-present Native American history. You'll also probably notice that, while the state is decently sized in terms of area (16th in the country), it doesn't have a lot of people (755,000).

    Two major interstates run throughout the state. I-90 runs from the western border to the eastern along its lower-third, while I-29 travels from the northern to the southern border, hugging the eastern edge.

    And, if you're wondering what the correct time is, it depends on where you're at in South Dakota. The western half of the state is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the eastern half is in the Central.

    So, anyway, once you've settled in, and once you've taken care of your driving responsibilities, be sure to take advantage of the splendor and rich history of your new state. We're also here to help you get your hands on whatever forms and manuals you might need.