PIERRE, S.D. – There are few places where one can stand in nearly the same spot where the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark stood. One of these is Spirit Mound; a national historic site located six miles north of Vermillion, S.D., which has come to be known as one of South Dakota’s Great Places.

In Clark’s journals, he wrote that the Native American population in the area believed there to be “little devils” residing on top of what is known today as Spirit Mound. Intrigued by this legend, Lewis and Clark, along with many of their men, left their camp on the south bank of the Missouri River near the mouth of White Stone Creek to investigate.

Upon reaching the summit of Spirit Mound, Lewis and Clark found not little devils, but rather, “a most beautiful landscape; Numerous herds of buffalo were seen feeding in various direction; the Plain to the North N.W. and N.E. extends without interruption as far as can be seen” (DeVoto 1997, 24).

Spirit Mound is located six miles north of Vermillion, S.D., along Hwy. 19. Spirit Mound Historic Prairie was recently established; for more information, call 605-987-2263.


South Dakota’s Great Places weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, designed to highlight places in South Dakota that are unique to travelers and residents alike. View our newsroom to access the complete list of articles.