Road Trips

Why I’m Going to South Dakota Tomorrow: #SomeLoveForSD


In a recent article which (poorly*) analyzed Instagram search terms, it was revealed that South Dakota is the second-least Instagrammed state, only after North Dakota. South Dakota is featured only 366,584 times, compared to the number one state, New York (surprise surprise) which was featured 21,079,929 times (at the time of article publication).

Why so little love for South Dakota? I’m thinking it may have something to do with the fact that the population of the entire state of South Dakota is only around 800,000. It’s a huge place populated by very few people. And even fewer of those people bother to go around Instagramming their own neighborhoods (though perhaps they should!)

Me? I’ve been dying to visit South Dakota for actual years, not in small part because, well, the population of the entire state is only around 800,000. Upon returning home from my recent trip to Costa Rica, my mother asked me where I most wanted to visit next. I said: South Dakota. She looked puzzled. But really, it is at the top of my domestic destinations list. Which is good, since I’m going there tomorrow.

I’m drawn to the idea of endless open space, to the lure of uber-touristy roadside attractions, and to unearthly landscapes, dark nights, and starry skies. Years ago, when I asked a colleague about the highlight of her cross-country road trip, she cited driving through the Badlands. It was like driving across the moon, she said. My nana, who passed away in March, once did quite a bit of  travel herself (maybe it’s genetic?) She and my pappy and my great aunt and uncle did a cross country road trip in the 1960s (it’s definitely genetic). My nana’s favorite stop? Mount Rushmore.

So I’m going to South Dakota tomorrow. And I’m taking my camera and my phone (and very, very little else, but more on that in a bit). And I’m going to Instagram the crap out of the state, from east to west and back east again.

I want to say ‘now let’s move South Dakota up a spot on the poorly analyzed list!’ But math tells me that I’d have to take and post over a hundred and fifty thousand photos to do that–the next state, West Virginia, has over 500,000 photo tags on Instagram. So yeah. That’s not going to happen. But I am going to share some love for South Dakota.

I invite you to follow along with me on Instagram (and Twitter, where I will be cross-posting) and join the adventure. I’ll be live-posting beginning on Thursday, September 10th and continuing through Wednesday, September 16th. Each photo will be tagged with:


And if you are visiting South Dakota, or if you live there yourself, get out there and start taking and posting some of your own photos. Use #SomeLoveForSD and share your images with me and with the world. Together, maybe we can beat West Virginia!

Of course, input is always appreciated. So if you know of any can’t-miss stops along the way, or side trips I should definitely consider, please let me know by commenting here, tweeting me, or commenting on an Instagram post. I will be traveling mostly along I90, from Sioux Falls to the Black Hills and back, with a few already-planned detours. I can’t wait to hit the road!


Full disclosure: The other reason I’m going to South Dakota tomorrow is because Frontier had a fare sale and I can get there (well, near-ish there) for less than the cost of a tank of gas. Fare sales–they’re real things, people.

Of course, to bring even a carryon bag would have tripled the cost of my round trip flight. So tune in next week when I report back on how I did living out of a personal item for a week, when half of that personal item was filled with a camera and two lenses.

*I feel the article poorly analyzed Instagram data because they only searched the hashtags for the state name, not any cities within that state. So, for example, Illinois came out rather low on the count, despite the fact that Chicago is one of the most Instagrammed (and Instagram-worthy) cities in the United States. And we all know that the New York results are skewed, because people hashtag New York City photos with just New York. Still. South Dakota could use some Instagram love.


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