10 Safest Cities in South Dakota

Updated On October 10, 2023
South Dakota

From Brandon to the Badlands, South Dakota runs the gamut in interesting places and towns.

In fact, there are several Native American reservations, Hutterite colonies, and super small towns with fewer than 10 residents in the total population.

However, there is still a crime here, and over the last decade, vehicle theft has boomed by 100 percent much to the state’s chagrin.

To find out where crimes like vehicle theft and robbery tend to occur in South Dakota, review this list of the 10 safest cities in this Midwestern state.

10 Safest Cities in South Dakota

Brandon, South Dakota
Brandon, South Dakota

Brandon, South Dakota

The city of Brandon is situated on the southeast border of Minnehaha County along with Sioux Falls, which is the most populated city in the state.

As a result, you would expect crime to be rampant.

But it is not thanks to the low population rate in Brandon at 10,300 residents.

There is a highly rated school system, Brandon Valley Public, as well as many rural farms and new, expensive neighborhoods.

The community helps provide a safe knit place for families to grow and thrive while taking advantage of the big city conveniences available in neighboring Sioux Falls. 

Lead, South Dakota
Lead, South Dakota

Lead, South Dakota

On the opposite side of the state to Brandon–West River as the locals call it–is Lead, South Dakota, which is the second safest city to live in.

Residents in Lead are few at 2,979 total, while the city borders the more populous Rapid City with 76,541 people.

As a part of the Black Hills, Lead and Rapid City are the location of Mount Rushmore, casinos, and shopping malls.

While Rapid City tends to have more crime than other cities as a result, Lead does not because of its location.

Over into the Black Hills, Lead is quiet and residential making it a safe place to be.

Brookings, South Dakota
Brookings, South Dakota

Brookings, South Dakota

The city of Brookings in South Dakota is one of the more populated places thanks to South Dakota State University in town.

There are 24,455 residents and this includes a large number of college-age students.

Yet the city sees few crimes with a rate of 1.63 per 1,000 residents.

In the state of South Dakota, you have a one in 51 chance of being a victim of a crime, compared to one in 98 in Brookings.

As a result, the city is far safer than most cities in South Dakota.

Tea, South Dakota
Tea, South Dakota

Tea, South Dakota

Another community bordering Sioux Falls, East River, is Tea, South Dakota.

The name reminds most of a time to sit and drink a warm cup of Earl Gray.

And the rural location on the outskirts of a major city allows for residents to enjoy their tea without a lot of noise or traffic.

At the same time, Tea residents have the modern conveniences of Sioux Falls, which sets their community up for success in many ways.

When residents have these services, it increases their quality of life by making them feel better in some way.

As a result, crime is less rampant and it is safer overall.

Lemmon, South Dakota
Lemmon, South Dakota

Lemmon, South Dakota

In Lemmon, South Dakota, which sounds like the citrus fruit but is spelled intentionally with two m’s, the residents have a very low chance of getting robbed or murdered.

In fact, here the violent crime rate is 10.4 and the property crime rate is 14.9, which is far lower than the US averages of 22.7 and 35.4 respectively.

Additionally, in 2012, there were no murders, rapes, robberies, or assaults in Lemmon, at all. 

Hot Springs, South Dakota
Hot Springs, South Dakota

Hot Springs, South Dakota

In Hot Springs, South Dakota, you can see an active archaeological dig of wooly mammoths in the entire world.

Hot Springs is an impressive town in the West Riverside of the state south of the Black Hills.

Tourism drives the industry up for 3,498 residents who make Hot Springs their home.

Madison, South Dakota

The city of Madison, South Dakota is in Lake County.

There are 7,249 residents, making this one of the mid-sized cities in this otherwise sparsely populated state.

The crime rate in Madison is only 19.67 per 1,000 people.

Elk Point, South Dakota
Elk Point, South Dakota

Elk Point, South Dakota

With a name like Elk Point, you can expect to see Northern Exposure right around the bend.

At any rate, this town has a crime rate of 23.18 per 1,000 residents and there are only 2,101 residents total.

As a result, you can expect to see about 50 crimes per year in this city in South Dakota.

Mobridge, South Dakota
Mobridge, South Dakota

Mobridge, South Dakota

Mobridge is a city in South Dakota with 3,033 residents.

The crime rate is 41.10 per 1,000 residents.

The northeast neighborhoods are the safest areas of Mobridge for visitors and residents alike.

Clark, South Dakota
Clark, South Dakota

Clark, South Dakota

The rate of violent crime in Clark is 11 per 1,000 residents.

As a result, violent crime in Clark, South Dakota is 76 percent lower than the national violent crime rate.

The areas of Clark that are safer include central and northern Clark.

5 Safety Tips for Traveling to South Dakota 

1. Understand the Speed Limit 

In South Dakota, if you are driving, be prepared to go a lot faster than usual.

In fact, the state highway set the speed limit to 85 miles per hour, which is considered speeding in the other 49 states.

If you tend to drive 50 to 60 mph, not only can going 85 be frightening, but it can also be deadly.

Stay safe and drive slower than the speed limit if you need to to avoid a wreck.

2. Plan for Severe Winter Weather

If you are in the state from October to March, there is a solid chance you might get stuck in a blizzard on the highway.

There are also no gas stations and rest stops on most of these highways as the state has fewer than 1 million residents in total.

You can expect to drive for an hour before you see anything many times.

So do not plan on stopping and waiting out a storm.

Instead, pack winter weather survival gear in the vehicle with you, including tire chains and emergency food supplies to stay safe in any city in South Dakota.

3. Take Cash

The majority of towns in South Dakota are rural and cash only, especially in restaurants and shops.

If you are buying gas, you have better luck with using a card.

However, if you tend to be highly digital, forget about that in South Dakota.

Only two cities in South Dakota have more than 30,000 residents, and most have fewer than 10,000 people.

Plus, there are generally 50 miles or more between towns, which adds to the rural aspect.

As a result, you simply cannot drive to another town only when you want to use a debit card.

4. Avoid Traveling Alone

If you have never traveled to South Dakota, it is a whole new world compared to most of the other states in the US.

The rural cities and gridded road system, which blocks off each road by one mile based on a square mile plot, are easier to navigate than most big cities.

However, if you get stranded you can be in a real pickle.

Avoid traveling by yourself by car across South Dakota if you are in the state for the first time.

Otherwise, once you become familiar with the cities and road system, you will be safer.

And if you are alone, avoid Sturgis and the Black Hills in August.

5. Carry Food and Water

Most South Dakota residents travel with food and beverages and may never eat at a Taco Bell in their lives.

That is because it is not sustainable and convenient to do so when the only fast food place is four hours away by car.

As a result, you want to do the same and keep a cooler with snacks and plenty of water for you and each passenger.

Not only will this ease your mind, but it will also provide ample resources for your trip.

South Dakota Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: South Dakota Safety Review

Safety Index:
South Dakota

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the least safe cities to travel to in the state of South Dakota?

Martin, South Dakota is the least safe city in the entire state.

There are 75 reports of crime per every 1,000 residents in this state.

Martin is located beside a Native American reservation, Pine Ridge, which has a casino that attracts a lot of money and travelers, resulting in more incidents of crime.

However, Spearfish in the Black Hills is also a very dangerous city with an 86 percent increase in crime in recent years.

The rate of personal assault is 2.21 per 1,000 people.

Also, Sturgis, which is the home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally held annually, has a rate of 302.2 per 100,000 people.

Which city in South Dakota has the most people?

Sioux Falls is the most populated city in South Dakota.

There are 180,927 residents in Sioux Falls, which is located in Minnehaha County on the eastern edge of the state.

Where is the safest area for tourists visiting South Dakota?

The safest areas for tourists in South Dakota are those with the most people.

Sioux Falls on the eastern side of the state has shopping malls, restaurants, and hotels.

For comparison, the majority of small towns in South Dakota do not even have a red light.

Rapid City and the Badlands, while the name sounds intimidating, are also safe if you travel during the spring to fall seasons.

Avoid winter when the roads may close, leaving you frozen, literally.

Cows do this all the time there.

4 Comments on 10 Safest Cities in South Dakota

  1. K
    Kate Byrd says:

    As a resident of South Dakota, I can vouch for the accuracy of the list. It aligns with my personal experiences and reaffirms the safety measures in place in these cities. It’s reassuring to see our community’s commitment to safety recognized.

  2. C
    Carolina Trujillo says:

    I appreciate the inclusion of crime statistics and other relevant data in this post. It adds credibility to the information presented, making it easier for readers to make informed decisions about where to reside in South Dakota.

  3. E
    Everlee Olsen says:

    I like that the post doesn’t just focus on crime rates but also touches upon other aspects like community engagement and emergency response times. It offers a holistic view of safety, going beyond mere statistics and giving readers a more nuanced understanding of each city’s environment.

  4. B
    Bethany Carey says:

    This strikes a good balance between brevity and informativeness. It doesn’t overwhelm the reader with unnecessary details but provides enough key points to make a meaningful comparison between the safest cities in South Dakota.

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