South of Pierre, US-83 crosses the Missouri River, then takes you into Fort Pierre (pop. 2,078). It’s not much now, but it has a rich history. As far back as 1832, it was known as Fort Pierre Chouteau, an American Fur Company trading post, and before that it was Ree and Arikara indigenous lands. Located at the mouth of the Bad (Teton) River, Fort Pierre once was a thriving port, but it is better known as the site where Joseph La Framboise, a fur trader, stopped and erected a driftwood shelter out of necessity, establishing the area’s first nonnative settlement.
Immediately south of Fort Pierre, typical South Dakota topography resumes: rolling black and green hills and twisting creek beds beneath sharp vertical drops of million-year-old geology. Spreading along both sides of US-83, the 116,000 acres of the Fort Pierre National Grassland are home to deer, rattlesnakes, antelope, and the most extensive prairie dog towns in the region.