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South Dakota State Arboretum

The arboretum features 45 acres of tree and shrub collections and approximately 1.6 miles of trails that are open and accessible to the public from dawn to dusk.

Come and explore our beautiful arboretum!

Our 45 acre arboretum is free to explore for our guests, with some additional opportunities that are not available in the formal garden areas such as:

  • Jogging and bicycles are allowed and encouraged on the arboretum trails. 
  • Pets are allowed, however must be cleaned up after and kept on leash at all times.
  • It is permitted to explore and examine plants off trails;  however please be cautious of your own safety. 

With these in mind, please also consider:

  • Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the arboretum. 
  • Please still be respectful of all other garden rules that apply throughout McCrory Gardens, such as no climbing, no removing plants, etc.

A Brief History

Our arboretum, located on the north side of McCrory Gardens, was designated the South Dakota State Arboretum in 1988 and has a long history of ornamentals research, beginning with the work of some of our earliest researchers, Sam McCrory and N.E. Hansen. Hansen alone was responsible for over 50 ornamental plant introductions to the early Green Industry in this country. More recently, work by Norm Evers and others resulted in the introduction of many new plants including Aesculus x ‘Homestead’, Forsythia x ‘Meadowlark’, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Nugget’, Pinus mugo ‘Tannenbaum’ and 'Thuja occidentalis ‘Rushmore’.

We have been a part of the NC7 Ornamental Plant Evaluation Project for over 40 years and have evaluated dozens of different plants during that time. In addition, we routinely trial new selections of trees and shrubs to test their adaptability to our growing conditions.

In North America, there are approximately 650 native tree species north of Mexico. Over 100 additional species have been introduced and have naturalized. Of this number, only a handful are native to or have become naturalized to the northern Great Plains. In the Arboretum, we are trying to expand the number and quality of species that can be successfully grown in the northern Great Plains. There are numerous species and cultivars that have not been evaluated; many are native to harsh environs similar to South Dakota. Species native to Northern Asia have particular value. The Arboretum serves as a long term evaluation site for these selected species.