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Located in the Midwestern United States, the Yankton Destination contains a number of cities and somewhat smaller towns such as Sioux City, Valentine, Norfolk, Le Mars, and Vermillion, among several others. The junction of the borders between South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa can be found in the destination’s central southern region, where Sioux City is situated. The southern perimeter of the destination’s namesake, the city of Yankton, is along the border that is shared between the two states of Nebraska and South Dakota. Yankton lies along the Missouri River in southeastern South Dakota and was so named after the Yankton tribe of the Western Dakota people. Yankton derives from a Dakota word, “I-hank-ton-wan,” which translates to English as “the end village.”[1] Many historic sites can presently be found in Yankton and the surrounding cities, such as Sioux City. Yankton itself is located on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail as the city was visited by the two explorers, Lewis and Clark, in the 1800s.[9] Outdoor recreation is sought after by visitors to the area, considering that the destination has designated recreation areas and natural landforms adjacent to the Missouri River. Some of the most popular activities that people tend to pursue throughout the destination include hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing.[6]

What Yankton is known for

The Yankton Destination encompasses a portion of three states in the Midwestern United States: Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Nebraska serves as the primary constituent as it covers the vast majority of the destination’s southern and western regions. Yankton, the namesake of the destination, is a city located along the Missouri River, which runs through the destination from the northwest to the southeast. The city occupies a total area of 8.91 square miles and is regarded as the county seat of Yankton County.[1]

Nearly 16,275 residents account for the total population of Yankton, South Dakota, as of 2022. Yankton was ranked the seventh largest city in the state by population, and the city currently has a growth rate of 0.59% annually. The racial composition of the population, as a whole, reports that roughly 88.54% of residents are white, 4.71% are classified as two or more races, and the remaining percentage is composed of Native American residents (3.88%), black or African American individuals (1.96%), those of an “other race” (0.73%), and Asian residents (0.18%).[2]

One of the most notable characteristics of the city of Yankton is the Meridian Bridge, which had a significant influence on the city’s economy when it was first constructed in the 1920s.[3] The bridge has an upper and a lower deck that was both chiefly utilized for traffic when it was initially built; however, over time, the bridge has been converted into a pedestrian bridge.[1] Yankton also contains a fair amount of historic sites, as the city was visited by two prominent American explorers, Lewis and Clark. The explorers stopped by the confluence of the James River and the Missouri River circa 1804.[3] Some of the sites and landforms that can be found in Yankton’s vicinity are named after Lewis and Clark, including the Lewis and Clark Lake, located four miles west of the city; the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, which extends about two miles along the north shore of the lake; and the Lewis and Clark Resort and Marina, found within the recreation area.[1]

Activities that visitors frequently engage in at the aforementioned Lewis and Clark Lake are camping, swimming, biking, hiking, and boating. The lake notably receives over 1.5 million visitors annually.[1] Other areas in Yankton that provide outdoor recreation are the Missouri River National Park, Pierson Ranch Recreation Area, Chief White Crane Recreation Area, Fantle Memorial Park, and the Lewis and Clark State Park.[3] 

Aside from the recreational aspect of Yankton, the city is also considered by many locals and tourists to be a “music, art, and theater town.” In downtown Yankton, the Lewis and Clark Theater Company often performs in the Dakota Theater and at the Lakeside Theater by Lewis and Clark Lake. Various groups from the city’s schools perform year-round, as the amphitheater at Riverside Park hosts an outdoor concert every week.[3]

One of the largest cities that can be found within the boundaries of the destination is Sioux City. Architectural tours are fairly popular among tourists who visit the city, several of which regard its historical significance. Similar to Yankton, Sioux City offers opportunities for outdoor recreation as visitors can go hiking, golfing, ice skating, snow tubing, or rock climbing, in addition to visiting museums, theaters, and farmers' markets.[5]


A considerable portion of the state of South Dakota comprises the northwestern and northern regions of the Yankton Destination. The entirety of the destination’s eastern side, however, is the northwestern corner of Iowa, and the remaining southern half of the Yankton Destination is composed of the state of Nebraska. The topographic structure of the Yankton Destination is made up of numerous expanses of forests and open grasslands. A few aquatic landforms additionally occupy areas throughout the destination, including the Missouri River, the Niobrara River, the James River, Lewis and Clark Lake, and Lake Andes, to name a few. Apart from geographic features, urban areas and towns dot the Yankton Destination, many of which surround the Missouri River on both sides.

Nature preserves, natural land, state parks, and designated recreation areas constitute several parts of the destination, specifically along the Missouri River. Stone State Park, Missouri National Recreation River, Gavins Point Recreation Area, Cottonwood Recreation Area, Miller Creek Recreation Area, and the aforementioned Lewis and Clark Recreation Area are a few of the designated nature preserves that can be found in the Yankton Destination. A notable population of wildlife inhabits the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area as well as Lewis and Clark Lake. For those who engage in wildlife viewing at the recreation area, wild turkeys, bald eagles, coyotes, deer, and other small mammals may potentially be spotted. Hunters are often drawn to the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area to pursue deer and turkey. The smaller game that hunters often aim for include pheasant, quail, and dove. In terms of fish that inhabit Lewis and Clark Lake, some species that fishermen may catch are namely walleye, largemouth bass, sauger, bluegill, smallmouth bass, crappie, and catfish.[6]

People who have visited Yankton in the past generally recommend that future visitors tour the city any time between mid-June and early September if they plan on participating in outdoor activities. This is due to the moderate climatic conditions that have been reported to occur throughout these months. The summer season has been described by former tourists as “warm,” while winters are contrastingly reported to be “freezing,” “snowy,” and “windy.” Temperatures vary between 13 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year in Yankton. A daily high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit is typical during the warm season, which lasts from May to September. Temperatures rise to around 86 degrees Fahrenheit in July, the hottest month of the year. The city experiences temperatures that drop to roughly 41 degrees Fahrenheit on average during the cold season from November to March; however, the coldest month of the year is most commonly January, with an average high of 31 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 13 degrees Fahrenheit.[4]


Dating back to the 1700s, Yankton’s name derives from the Yankton band of Sioux Indians that inhabited the area.[7] The city has been given nicknames throughout its history; for example, some people refer to it as the “River City” due to its close proximity to the Missouri River. Another nickname is the “Mother City of the Dakotas,” which derives from the notable role that Yankton played during the development of the Dakota Territory.[10] The first non-native individual to settle in the land was Pierre Dorian, who married a Yankton Sioux woman. Twenty years later, Lewis and Clark arrived in 1804.[7] Pierre Dorian accompanied the two explorers to Yankton.[3] Major William Lyman—the first known white settler in Yankton County (who came in 1857)—became a prominent presence of the settlement as he established a ferry across the James River as well as a small trading post.[7]

In 1873, the Dakota Southern Railway arrived at Yankton, ultimately resulting in the gradual decrease of river traffic. A few years later, the steamboat industry was impacted negatively by the Great Flood of 1881, which damaged and sunk many boats. The remnants of these destroyed boats still lie below the surface of the Missouri River, and when water levels are fairly low, some remnants are visible from the Meridian Bridge.[3] The arrival of the railroad, plus the steamboats that would frequent the Missouri River, have made Yankton a transportation center. Moreover, Yankton is presently a hub for regional business, health care, and recreation. Some of the major industries that further aid the city’s economy are the production of aluminum products, electronics, livestock trailers, construction equipment, engine filters, tarpaulins, aircraft parts, and agricultural equipment.[9]

Yankton’s historical significance is evident within the city’s 26 individual properties and 6 historic districts that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Specific examples of such historic sites that are found in Yankton are the Ohlman-Shannon House, Charles Gurney Hotel, Bishop Marty House, Bruce-Donaldson House, and Governor Pennington House.[1]

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Fritz's Island Campground is located in Sparks, Nebraska. The family-owned business was previously used as a buffalo ranch before being converted into a campground; however, the property itself has been in operation for over 20 years. Each year, it is open during the summer from June to August. This campground offers visitors about 30 sites, which entail either RV or tent camping sites. Tubing is a popular activity among guests because the establishment owns private property on the Niobrara River. Moreover, the business provides tubing equipment that visitors may rent. 

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