Film South Dakota

Locations Tour Video

Get Your Shot in South Dakota

South Dakota’s breathtaking landscapes include sprawling prairies, glacial lakes, dramatic mountains and striking geological formations. The state welcomes millions of annual visitors that come to experience iconic attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial and Badlands National Park. The state is steeped in Native American culture, iconic small-town living and real-life cowboys. Westerns, thrillers and contemporary dramas have all utilized South Dakota’s diverse backdrops.

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Film Credits

Mount Rushmore

About South Dakota

South Dakota offers filmmakers and producers excellent – and economical – ways to achieve their cinematic vision. With room to work and beauty to work with, South Dakota’s legendary rock formations, wildlife and open prairies make it the perfect location for iconic backdrops or intimate interiors. In South Dakota, you’ll find experienced crews, a low cost of doing business and incredible locations for your next film.

General Info for South Dakota

Weather in South Dakota (Rapid City)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high in ºF 33 39 47 57 67 77 86 86 75 62 45 36
Average low in ºF 11 16 23 32 43 52 58 57 46 35 22 13
Av. precipitation in inch 0.37 0.46 1 1.9 3 2.8 2 1.6 1 1.4 0.6 0.4

Average Daylight Hours in South Dakota

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daylight Hours 9.2 10.2 12 13.3 14.4 15.2 15 14 12.3 11 9.4 8.6

Permitting Agencies

There are a variety of agencies within the state of South Dakota that require permits. Below is a list of those agencies and their general timelines for processing permits:

First Aid & Medical Services

Monument Health Rapid City Hospital
353 Fairmont Blvd, Rapid City
Open 24 hours

Sanford USD Medical Center and Hospital
1305 W 18th St, Sioux Falls
Open 24 hours

Avera McKennan Hospital
1325 S Cliff Ave, Sioux Falls
Open 24 hours

A Few Filming Locations in South Dakota

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Badlands National Park

Historic Deadwood

Custer State Park

The Missouri River

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Category: Natural Landscapes & Parks

Badlands National Park boasts 244,000 acres of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including prairie dogs, bighorn sheep and buffalo. Skeletons of three-toed horses and saber-toothed cats may also be found amid the park’s rocky terrain. From narrow pathways to open land, the Badlands possess a rare combination of landscapes guaranteed to captivate any audience. The park was most recently featured in the Academy Award-winning film Nomadland (2020).

Historic Deadwood

This 1870s gold rush town became a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and has since been the pinnacle of Old West history and culture. Surrounded by the Black Hills National Forest, the town features a variety of casino interiors as well as historic buildings with unique architecture inside and out. Must-see outdoor spots include Mount Moriah Cemetery and Mount Roosevelt, also known as the Friendship Tower.

Historic Deadwood
Custer State Park

Custer State Park

Few truly wild places remain in the American frontier. Custer State Park is one of them. Located in the Black Hills, the park is home to various wildlife and magnificent scenery spanning 71,000 acres. Past its granite pinnacles that reach the sky and forest of ponderosa pine lies the famous Needles Highway. Custer State Park is overflowing with wildlife, scenic offerings and a variety of trails & undisturbed nature.

The Missouri River

The Missouri River gives South Dakota more miles of shoreline than Florida, meaning that filmmakers will have access to loads of shoreside landscapes and open-water filming opportunities. The river has islands and four reservoirs — Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case and Lewis & Clark Lake — that all offer perfect opportunities for diversified shots along the waters of the ‘Mighty Mo’.

Missouri River

Incentives & Rebates

When you film in South Dakota, your crew can enjoy no personal or corporate income tax. South Dakota also offers its resources and assistance to help you secure locations and special permissions and permits, and to connect you with the best local experts to make your dream shoot a reality.

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Film Credits for South Dakota

South Dakota is the definition of a hidden gem. To witness its sunsets is to stand face-to-face with the story of Earth
itself. There is a purity to the natural light that lends each image a fairytale realness that personifies the idea of
escapism. This light is girdled by endless landscape and vibrant locations that fuel storytelling opportunities and opens
a door to America as its most primal. South Dakota is also replete with industry professionals with unrivaled work ethic
and creative drive. The filmmakers I know who have shot here want to keep the secret for themselves, but some
treasure must be shared. South Dakota is America’s best kept filmmaking secret.

Andrew Kightlinger

Writer-Director, "Tater Tot & Patton"

Film Credits

  • Nomadland
  • Armageddon
  • Starship Troopers
  • Dances with Wolves
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets
  • North by Northwest
  • Nebraska
  • How The West Was Won
  • The Neverending Story III
  • Into The Wild
  • The Bachelor (ABC)
  •  Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Food Network)

For a complete list of film credits, visit

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Rebecca Cruse

South Dakota Department of Tourism

Phone: 605-773-3301