Great Plains

For the Hungarian region of the same name, see Great Hungarian Plain.

The Great Plains of the United States of America is a wide open, mostly agricultural area, but also home to the Badlands and Black Hills, where the iconic Mount Rushmore is located.


States and cities of the Great Plains region
North Dakota
South Dakota

Paralleling the Rocky Mountains, this vast stretch of grasslands extends from a tiny pocket of northern Mexico, through Texas and all the way north to the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


Other destinations

An American Bison grazes on the plains


While some on either coast might label this part of the country "flyover country" it is not without charms, especially in terms of nature and wildlife. Mount Rushmore as well as Native American heritage are part of the cultural charms of this region.


English is by far the most spoken and widely understood language. Historically indigenous American languages were spoken by many in this area, but nowadays those that speak them will usually also speak equal if not better English.

Get in

By plane

See also: air travel in the USA

Air-travel is fastest and probably the most practical way of entering the Great Plains region. Many smaller cities in this region are serviced by the Midwestern airport hubs of Chicago, Kansas City, MO, or Minneapolis, Western hub Denver, or Texan hubs Dallas and Houston. From those large airports, smaller commuter flights are available into many small city airports such as Fargo or Grand Forks, North Dakota; Rapid City or Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney, McCook, Scottsbluff and Alliance, Nebraska; Salina, Wichita or Topeka, Kansas; and Tulsa or Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

By train

Amtrak serves part of this region. While trains are often not much faster than buses (if that) and usually not cheaper than flying for all but the shortest trips what they offer in views, legroom and sheer style of travel at least to some more than make up for those downsides and thus Amtrak has posted record riderships for most of the years since 2000.

By car

Most of the region is connected to the interstate highway system. Some roads in rural areas are in a very bad state however.

Get around

By car

Generally by automobile. On the whole, this is one of the worst regions for touring the United States without a car.

By train or bus

Greyhound bus has several routes through here as well and there is very limited passenger rail service.

By air

Many larger cities have regular air-commuter service to larger hub airports. Smaller towns may have smaller commuter flights with more limited service.


The Great Plains is not packed with sights. In fact, it's not packed with much of anything—these are some of the lowest density states in the union, iconic for their wide, flat, open spaces. The largest cities of Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Omaha all have a number of modest attractions, although a visitor to the United States probably wouldn't go out of their way to find them. The one big exception, however, are the Black Hills and Badlands of southwestern South Dakota, which is home to several of quite literally the country's biggest attractions: in particular, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial, as well as an enormous range of rugged and mountainous terrain, filled with Wild West cowboy towns and big game animals.





Stay safe

The Great Plains are the location of "Tornado Alley", a multi-state region where tornadoes are more frequent on average during the spring and summer months. See Tornado safety for more information. While it is somewhat rare for tourists to experience tornadoes, severe thunderstorms containing frequent lightning, strong winds, hail and heavy rains are common during the spring and summer months as well. When weather conditions deteriorate listen to local radio stations for information ("Weather Radio Information" roadsigns are fairly common on interstates) The northern areas of this region are susceptible to blizzards and bitter cold temperatures during the winter; while southern regions sometimes face severe ice events. When driving cross-country in the winter, be prepared as Interstates often close during severe winter weather events.

Go next

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