Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news

As part of our journey through the north central states, we stayed one night in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, preparing for a trip to Mount Rushmore the following day. When I was investigating different things to do on our road trip via Roadtrippres.com, one of the suggested stops was at the Geographical Center of the United States. Being the map-geek that I am (I’m trying to visit every COUNTY in the United States!), I knew this was one I wanted to visit

(SEE ALSO: Roadtrippers.com – a way to find unique destinations on your road trip)

Approaching the Geographic Center of the United States monument

The monument for the Geographic Center of the United States is in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and is easy to find – right on the southern bank of the Belle Fourche River on highway US-85.  We pulled in and made our way behind the building

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-sign

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-monument

My son on the Geographic Center of the United States monument. They have flags for all 50 states and for some reason Canada as well?!

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-monument-3

The marker at the monument site

 

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-monument-2

Flags for the Geographic Center of the United States monument

There are many different ways that you could determine the geographic center of the United States, and the method that was used was to imagine the entire United States made out of a uniform thickness of cardboard – this is the spot where it would equally balance.

Finding the REAL Geographic Center of the United States

As I was standing there, I thought to myself – there’s no way the ACTUAL center just happened to be hear in a nice town right in a great spot for a monument on the banks of the river.  So I went inside the visitor’s center and asked, and apparently they get asked about it enough to have a brochure ready-made to hand to me.

Since I knew that I couldn’t settle for the “sucker’s” geographical center of the United States, we headed back north of town.  We had actually passed the turn off for the REAL geographic center of the United States on our way into town on US-85 South – it’s about 14 miles north of Belle Fourche.

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-turnoff

The turnoff from US-85

I had seen that sign as we were coming into town – should have turned off and saved some backtracking….

About 8 miles down a dusty, gravelly road, you will see a barn to your left, and a flag in a field to your right.  That is the actual center.  There is a cairn and a logbook in a plastic container that you can sign.  I thought it might be a geocache?

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-real-monument

There’s a fence separating the flag (and survey marker) from the road.  I wondered if it was fine to cross it?  I saw the following sign and took that as my “permission” 🙂

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-foot-traffic-sign

We crossed the fence right here

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-boys-fence

 

And then made our way out to the survey marker

 

 

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-boys-flag

Success!

 

geographic-center-of-the-united-states-survey

The actual survey marker at the REAL geographic center of the United States, dated 1959

 

It was a fun journey, and I’m glad that we didn’t stop at the marker at the park in town but instead made our way out to the REAL geographic center of the United States!  Have you been to Belle Fourche?  If so, did you stop in town, or did you make your way out to the REAL geographic center of the United States?

bloom-image-never-miss-a-post

Sign up for our once-daily email with the latest tips and tricks on how to travel for free / cheap. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!