Relieve midterm stress, visit parks


Dakota Nature Park

Jacob Boyko, News Editor

Are you drowsy throughout the day? Are you feeling drained and overwhelmed thinking about your next exam? Is your skin tone several swatches lighter than the last time you wandered into the paint aisle at Home Depot? Are you having trouble recognizing the sad, ghostly apparition staring back at you when you look in the mirror? 

Through all of the stress of the midterm season, many students (and faculty for that matter) shift their focus away from their personal well-being toward the rigorous, unforgiving academic calendar. It’s important to remember to take steps to promote a healthy you—inside and out. 

The Brookings area is home to several great outdoor spaces where the stressed-out college student can get out, breathe fresh air, lessen anxiety and just feel better. After all, it’s science!

Dakota Nature Park

If you’re short on time, the Dakota Nature Park just south of town is the perfect place to break the monotony. The 135-acre park offers equipment rentals for guests: mountain bikes, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, snow shoes and fishing poles can all be rented for $7 per hour. 

Note that a credit card and photo ID are required. The park features trails that wander through the woods and trace the shores of the ponds. You’ll want to have a phone or DSLR camera ready, because you’re almost guaranteed to find something picture-worthy with the picturesque scenery and abundance of wild animals, plants and flowers you’ll encounter. 

To find Dakota Nature Park from campus, follow 22nd Avenue south past Hy-Vee and turn right on 32nd Street.

Sexauer Park

While the name may be funny, the amenities this park offers are nothing to laugh at! If you’re looking for a park within walking distance from your dorm where you can unwind, Sexauer may be the place to go. 

The park features a sand volleyball court and a large open green area on one side of the creek, and a walk over the bridge will take you to a quiet campground with towering cottonwood trees. The park also features picnic tables, fire pits, restrooms and spots for RVs and tents with electrical hookups. 

The campground is friendly to drop-in campers, but reservations are recommended. Call the parks and recreation office at (605)-692-2708 to reserve a space. Tents are $10 per night and RV pads are $25 per night. 

To find the park, follow 6th Street west from campus and turn right on Western Avenue.

Oakwood State Park

If you’re heading out to Oakwood, plan on being gone for at least a few hours. That’s not just because of the 20-mile-drive; once you arrive at the series of glacial lakes, Native American mounds, lush forests and miles of trails, you’ll want to spend the rest of your day taking in the sights and sounds. 

Since you’ll be remote, remember to pack a lunch and bring plenty of water. One of the most scenic hikes is the trail to Scout Island. Decades ago, it was detached from the mainland, but it has since been connected via a narrow trail. On your hike to Scout Island, you’ll spot pelicans, ducks and deer as well as a series of interesting plants, trees, fungus and bugs. 

You can also rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards for your day at the park. If you want to turn it into a weekend adventure, Oakwood has several cabins available to rent as well as a campground for RV and tent campers. 

Visit and click on Oakwood State Park to find out about availability. Entry to the park is $8 per vehicle, or free if you hold an annual pass for South Dakota state parks. Campsites with electrical services are $26 per night. Use a GPS service as you drive to the park.