Geography of Hanson County, South Dakota

Geography of Hanson County, South Dakota

Hanson County is a landlocked county located in the southeastern part of the state of South Dakota, United States. It is known for its rolling plains, agricultural landscapes, and small rural communities. Covering an area of approximately 434 square miles, Hanson County is characterized by its flat terrain, with few notable geographical features. However, its rich agricultural heritage and charming towns make it an integral part of South Dakota’s rural landscape.

Location and Borders

According to Usvsukenglish, Hanson County is situated in the southeastern region of South Dakota, bordered by the counties of McCook to the north, Hutchinson to the west, Davison to the south, and Miner to the east. The county seat is the city of Alexandria, while other significant towns include Emery and Fulton.

Topography and Terrain

The topography of Hanson County is primarily characterized by its gently rolling plains, which are typical of the Great Plains region. The county lies within the Central Great Plains ecoregion, known for its expansive grasslands and agricultural fields.

The terrain of Hanson County is relatively flat, with elevations ranging from around 1,300 to 1,500 feet above sea level. The land is predominantly used for agriculture, including the cultivation of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa.

While there are no significant natural features such as mountains or rivers in Hanson County, it is dotted with small creeks and intermittent streams that drain into larger water bodies in neighboring counties.


Hanson County experiences a continental climate, characterized by cold winters, warm summers, and relatively low precipitation throughout the year. The region’s climate is influenced by its inland location and its position in the northern Great Plains.

Winter temperatures in Hanson County can be cold, with average highs in the 20s to 30s Fahrenheit (-6 to -1°C) and lows in the single digits to teens Fahrenheit (-13 to -7°C). Snowfall is common during the winter months, with occasional blizzards bringing significant accumulations of snow and strong winds.

Summer temperatures are warm, with average highs in the 80s to 90s Fahrenheit (27 to 32°C) and lows in the 50s to 60s Fahrenheit (10 to 20°C). Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, bringing periods of heavy rain, lightning, and sometimes hail.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons in Hanson County, with mild temperatures and changing weather patterns. Springtime brings the onset of warmer weather and the emergence of new plant growth, while fall is characterized by cooler temperatures and the changing colors of foliage.

Rivers and Waterways

Hanson County is sparsely populated with water bodies, but it is drained by several small creeks and streams that flow into neighboring counties. These waterways are tributaries of larger rivers such as the James River, which flows to the east of the county.

One notable creek in Hanson County is Turtle Creek, which meanders through the central part of the county before flowing into the James River. While not navigable, Turtle Creek and other small water bodies provide habitat for wildlife and contribute to the local ecosystem.

Lakes and Reservoirs

Hanson County does not have any natural lakes or reservoirs of significant size. However, there may be small ponds or stock dams scattered throughout the county, primarily used for agricultural purposes such as irrigation and livestock watering.

Parks and Recreation Areas

Due to its primarily rural and agricultural nature, Hanson County does not have any designated parks or recreational areas. However, residents and visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and hiking in the open countryside.

Additionally, neighboring counties may offer recreational opportunities, including state parks, wildlife refuges, and other natural areas. Lake Vermillion Recreation Area, located in neighboring McCook County, is one such destination that offers camping, fishing, and hiking opportunities.

Agriculture and Economy

Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Hanson County, with the majority of its land used for farming and ranching. The county’s fertile soils and favorable climate support a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and alfalfa.

Livestock farming, particularly cattle and hog production, is also significant in Hanson County. Many farmers raise livestock for meat production, while others focus on dairy farming or poultry production.

In addition to agriculture, Hanson County’s economy may also include small businesses, service industries, and manufacturing, although these sectors are less prominent compared to farming and ranching.

Historical Sites and Landmarks

Hanson County has a rich history dating back to its settlement by European immigrants in the 19th century. While it may not have many prominent historical sites or landmarks, the county’s small towns and rural landscapes reflect its agricultural heritage and pioneer roots.

One notable historical site in Hanson County is the Hanson County Courthouse, located in the city of Alexandria. Constructed in the early 20th century, the courthouse serves as the seat of county government and is a symbol of local governance and community pride.


Hanson County, South Dakota, is a rural and agricultural region characterized by its rolling plains, modest waterways, and small towns. While it may lack the dramatic landscapes or prominent features found in other parts of the state, Hanson County offers a peaceful and picturesque setting for those who appreciate the simplicity of rural life.

With its fertile soils, favorable climate, and strong agricultural tradition, Hanson County plays an essential role in South Dakota’s agricultural economy. While it may not be a destination for tourists seeking outdoor adventure or cultural attractions, it provides a welcoming home for those who value the quiet beauty of the countryside and the sense of community found in small-town America.