National Grasslands Visitor Center
Wall, South Dakota
“These wind-swept seas of grass and wildflowers – four million acres in all – have witnessed the pageant of the frontier, the Dust Bowl, and the dramatic recovery into a great national treasure. Come visit the 20 publicly-owned National Grasslands administered by the USDA Forest Service.”
From the America’s National Grasslands brochure and website
Four million grassland acres in 20 designated areas stretching across 13 states yet only a single visitor center is dedicated to the National Grasslands. The center is located in Wall, South Dakota surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.
On this trip alone we’ve passed through six of the Grasslands so it seemed logical to make a stop at the visitor center. A 25-minute video, “America’s Grasslands,” gives a historical perspective and explains their mission.
Exhibits feature plants, wildlife and history of the Great Plains, recreational opportunities and use management. Hands-on activities encourage interaction and we note youngsters at work on their Jr. Ranger program. We are pleased to identify some of the specific grasses and plants we had noted and left with a greater appreciation of grasslands conservation.
With a wet spring and early summer this was a very good year and time of year to visit the northern plains. Through Nebraska, North and South Dakota the rolling hills are a vibrant green often edged with sweet yellow clover. Grasses leaning with the wind to a horizon unbroken by fences give a sense of the possible scene two centuries ago, truly a national treasure.