Off the Beaten Path in Western South Dakota

western south dakota things to do

south dakota buffalo

Wall Drug

wall drug south dakota

the rockhound shop wall drug

  • Homemade ice cream and donuts, 5 cent coffee, free ice water, featured on CMT and in People Magazine, Western art gallery, Western wear, the signs say it all and can be found throughout the world. Signs displaying the miles to Wall Drug have been placed in Amsterdam, London, and Morocco. 

jackalope

  • South Dakota’s famous Wall Drug transports visitors to the Wild West with “live” displays, decor, and interactive experiences. Inside Wall Drug is an emporium, restaurant, drug store, chapel, Western art gallery, cafe, and mall selling souvenirs, clothing, art, pottery, jewelry, books, leather gifts, art, camping supplies, and more. The backyard with train station shows and picnic area leads to another mall with a mine your own gems station, parlor, saloon, T-Rex (beware it’s feeding time every 12 minutes!), and toy store. Across the street from Wall Drug are additional stores, outlets, saloons, and restaurants. Here is a map of the South Dakota roadside attraction we’re still searching for words to describe. 

wall drug pharmacy

wall drug travelers chapel

Badlands National Park

the badlands

bandlands wildlife

  • It rained our drive from Rapid City to the Badlands National Park, but the sky cleared just as we arrived, creating the perfect time to visit. The colors are most vibrant when the sediment is wet from early morning dew or a rainstorm. Entering the park on SD 502 to Sage Creek Rim Road, we were greeted with a herd of buffalo near the Sage Creek Basin Overlook. 
  • Badlands National Park consists of 3 units. North Unit is the most popular containing the Badlands Loop Road. Palmer Creek Unit and Stronghold Unit are located inside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

badlands national park

mitch at the

Traveling Gingerbread Note: After exiting the park continue East to Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Giant Prairie Dog Statue, and Badlands Distillery LLC.

Mount Rushmore National Monument

mount rushmore national memorial

  • Mount Rushmore National Monument was designed by Gutzon Borglum and carved by 400 workers in 14 years. Gutzon Borglum chose the 4 presidents that (in his opinion) impacted the United States’ most important historical events. The original plans included a body for each president, but with his passing and no additional funding the monument will remain incomplete. The memorial is free to enter and parking is $10 per car. 

mount rushmore closeup

  • Along Route 16A, Iron Mountain Road, in Keystone approaching Mount Rushmore there are many shops and restaurants selling everything from taffy and t-shirts to Old time photos, ziplines, and chainsaw carvings. 

Traveling Gingerbread Note: On our visit some of the gates were open and didn’t require a paid ticket to exit. 

Crazy Horse Memorial

crazy horse memorial entranve

  • Crazy Horse Memorial is in progress to become the world’s largest mountain carving. The hairline to the chin of the Crazy Horse measures 87.5 feet compared to a president on Mount Rushmore measuring 60 feet. It is privately owned and funded by visitors’ admission costs and items purchased on the property.
  • Above is the free view of Crazy Horse from the parking lot entrance. The top of the sign is the proposed finished carving. 

crazy horse carving

  • The cost to enter the complex is $12 per person or $30 per car. Inside the complex is a 1/34 scale model of the finished memorial, restaurant, bronze showroom, Native American Educational and Cultural Center, Indian Museum of North America, sculptor’s workshop and log home, and gift shop.
  • A bus takes visitors to the bottom of the mountain for an additional $4 per person for the view pictured above. Walking to the bottom of the mountain is prohibited. Van tours to the top of the mountain are also available. 

The Traveling Gingerbread Note: We recommend visiting in 2030 when Crazy Horse is expected to be finished. The free view from just outside the parking lot was very similar to the view at the bottom of the mountain $16 per person later. 

The Mammoth Site

the mammoth site

wooly mammoth skeleton

  • Bones of more than 6 mammoth were discovered at The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs while excavating for a housing development in 1974. One year later the site became a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, educating, and investigating the Ice Age.

*Rapid City*

Storybook Island

yogi the bear

entrance to

  • Storybook Island is free and open 9:00am – 7:00pm every day during the Summer. The park was created to spark imagine in those young in age and young at heart. Train ride and carousel tickets are available for all ages, $2 per ticket. The park features storybook characters such as Yogi the Bear, Raggedy Ann, Jack and the Beanstalk, Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty, Snow White, Jack and Jill, Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians, Wizard of Oz, Little Bo Peep, Noah’s Ark, Peter Pan, and more.  

storybook island wizard of ox

snow white and the

Dinosaur Park

brontosaurus rapid city

  • Dinosaur Park, open since 1936, has 5 life size concrete dinosaurs. The Apatosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Brontosaurus are across the parking lot on a sandstone ridge with a view of up to 100 miles. The remaining 2 dinosaurs are in front of the visitor center, cafe, and gift shop. Fossils were first discovered from these 7 dinosaurs in South Dakota. The park is free to enter and open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm.

t-rex rapid city dinosaur park

The Berlin Wall Memorial

the berlin wall memorial rapid city

berlin wall in rapid city south dakota

  • In the 1990’s a traveling Berlin wall was on display at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. The exhibit was so popular the county commission purchased a piece of the wall to put on display permanently in Memorial Park.

City of Presidents Walk

rapid city presidents walk

  • 42 life size presidents are on display throughout downtown Rapid City along Main Street and St. Joseph Street from 4th Street to 9th Street. Here is a map of the presidents and their locations. 

Art Alley

art alley map

art alley in south dakota

  • Art Alley is located in the City of Presidents Walk between Main Street and St. Joseph Street and 6th Street and 7th Street. One of the rules of Art Alley: make an equal or greater effort as what you’re painting over.

art alley

*Lemmon*

Petrified Wood Park and Museum

lemmon's petrified wood park south dakota

south dakota petrified wood park

  • The Petrified Wood Park in Lemmon was constructed in the early 1930’s from nearby petrified wood, fossils, dinosaur and mammoth bones, and rocks. The park is the size of one city block and contains structures up to 20 feet tall. Entrance to the park is free.

petrified wood castle in lemmon

Boss Cowman Square

bossman cow square mural in lemmon

bossman co

  • The sculpture pictured left, representing Ed Lemmon, was made from scrap metal donated by local farmers. Ed Lemmon ran an 865,000 acre ranch on Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and played an important role in the development of the northern Great Plains. He led one of the United States’ largest cattle roundups, found several towns, and was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

scrap metal branco in lemmon

  • Scrap Metal Bronco (Buster) is located at 209 3rd Street West.

July 2020

Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

The Traveling Gingerbread is a place for us to share budget travel tips for people with full time jobs, fun facts, itineraries, and where to find the best craft beer. We have been traveling together since 2013. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, experiences, and local breweries. We can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. In 2019, we brewed our first beer and were hooked, although, we have no intentions of brewing more than small batches. We'll continue our self appointed roles of professional testers and creating craft beer trails.

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