Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sica Hollow State Park

Although not large in acreage, Sica Hollow State Park is a treasure trove for photographers.

Located in the northeast corner of South Dakota, Sica Hollow is 15 miles northwest of the town of Sisseton off Highway 10. As with all of South Dakota's state parks, there is an entrance fee.

A paved road winds through the "hollow" or small, heavily-wooded valley. Early Native American legends named it "Sica," which means bad or evil. Strange phenomenon is said to happen here, including glowing swamp gases from rotting stumps and gurgling red water running through the bogs.

Small waterfalls, wildflowers and beautiful autumn foliage are the main photographic attractions here. Intimate stream closeups are easy to find in the bottom of the hollow and especially around the main picnic area.

The "Trail of The Spirits" is part of a 15-mile trail system throughout the park. Following the trails up and out of the valley provides opportunities to photograph virgin prairie. Watch for groups of horseback riders who share the trails.

Smaller wildlife is abundant here, but often hard to spot due to the thick foliage. Tracks and other evidence of their passing are often easier to find. A racoon visited this spot before I did.

In fall, I've found numerous harmless garter snakes around the streams.

Speaking of autumn, this is one of those legendary local spots for brilliant displays of fall leaves. Mid-September to early October is usually peak time for colors. "Leaf Peepers" travel from miles around to view the changing of the seasons.

History buffs will still find remnants of the settling of this area of the state.

More information and maps can be found at

While you are in the area, just west of the town of Sisseton is Nicollet Tower, a large wooden structure that provides a great overview of the Coteau Des Prairies, or "hills of the prairie."

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