Saturday, July 9, 2011

Things to break the monotony of driving across South Dakota

Any long car trip can get boring quickly and we are always on the lookout for places to stop, get out of the car, stretch our legs, take a little walk, see something interesting and maybe get a snack.  South Dakota needed a few of these 'diversions'.   No need to take offense - we LOVED South Dakota....just the driving can be really boring. (so can Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah...come to think of it every state has some areas that aren't that fun to drive through!)  Our trip back to Missouri on I 90 in South Dakota needed a few stops, so we found a few well known places to visit.

The Badlands - this is an easy loop drive off of I 90.  This is a National Park and charges a fee that allows you access for 7 days (we once again used our Park Pass).  There are sweeping views of the formations, scenic overlooks, a few hiking trails, campground, lodge, visitor center, gift shop and ranger led programs.  Wildlife include bison, black footed ferrets, fox, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, rattle snakes, bobcat, porcupines, coyotes and more.  Some wonderful fossils beds have been discovered here.  Be sure to stop by the visitor center and learn about the digs.

The Corn Palace - Mitchell, South Dakota.  This interesting building is actually a multi-use building for the community.  It hosts shows and sporting events in the arena and has a few 'flea market' type booths open year round.  Many people leave the interstate to see the outside of this well known attraction.

The original Corn Palace, called "The Corn Belt Exposition" was established in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil.
American Pride is the theme this year - baseball, apple pie, flags and more!

The exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created each year. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist.  We were passing through the area at around 10 pm so we only got to walk around the see the outside of the building.  It is very impressive!  Reminded us of the Rose Bowl floats that are all decorated with living plant materials.

Wall Drugs - Wall, South Dakota  'Free Ice Water' was the gimmick that started Wall Drugs on the road to the huge and interesting operation that it is today.  In 1931 the Hustead family was having a hard time making a living in this little own when they placed signs on the highway offering 'free ice water'.  Remember - this was before air-conditioning and McDonalds.  People who were hot and tired from driving across the state (usually on their way to visit Yellowstone) enjoyed the water...and bought ice cream and other supplies, keeping the Husteads in business.  The next year they had to hire more help and the business has been growing since then! 
Lots of little shops and interesting things to see
The elusive 'Jackalope'
A bison you CAN pet!

There are small stores that are connected in an interior mall space, a cafe that seats 530, one of the largest private collections of western art, 10 cent coffee, a fun area for kids to run, climb and play, and of course the free ice water!  You never know what you will find or see here - well worth a visit!

Jurassic park?
Lots of photo ops

No comments:

Post a Comment