If you are traveling to Yellowstone from Minneapolis (and we were), you pretty much have to make the trek from Sioux Falls to Rapid City. It isn’t the most entertaining drive, but it is far from the worst (ahem, Texas, I’m looking at you).
We decided to get up early so we could stop at Falls Park and get some better photos of the falls with the sun shining on the water. Seemed silly to be in a town called Sioux Falls and not leave with good photos of the falls, right? So, the alarm was set for 6. Great plan, except for one thing. We forgot to check what time the sun would rise that day. Rookie mistake. When we arrived at the park, the sun was up but not high enough to highlight the falls. So, we started our drive feeling like tired idiots.
A short drive from Sioux Falls is the Porter Sculpture Park. The drive was just long enough to give us an inferiority complex because we didn’t have an RV. Seriously, there were RVs everywhere. And semis. We felt like ants in our tiny little sedan. Just waiting to get squashed. Anyway, if you enjoy sculpture, the Porter Sculpture Park is a must stop. There are over 50 sculptures, all just sitting in a field on the side of the road. Plus, there are poems to go along with some of the sculpture. All of the work is done by a guy named Wayne Porter. When we visited, he was even the guy collecting the admission fee. Based on the poetry, I’m not sure how happy Wayne is, but his art sure is interesting to look at.
Further down the interstate, is the Mitchell Corn Palace. We have no idea why this became a tourist attraction. I guess maybe because it is a break from the unrelenting billboards plastered all over the side of the road in South Dakota? I can’t think of any other reason why anyone would want to stop here.
After that, there is a really nice rest stop that is great for a picnic lunch. The rest stop is near Chamberlain. It apparently contains a Lewis & Clark information center, but we didn’t visit it. Outside is a huge 50 foot tall sculpture called “Dignity: Of Earth and Sky” intended to be be a tribute to the Dakota and Lakota people. It is visible from the highway, but worth a quick up-close look too.
Further down the interstate, past some grain silos that are so big they look like they belong on Mars, is the Badlands. Wow. Just wow. The looked amazing even on a hazy day (stupid wildfire smoke).
If you are anywhere near the Badlands, you must, must, must do the loop through the park. Talk about stunning scenery. Talk about amazing wildlife.
There was even something called Robert’s Prairie Dog Town full of cute little prairie dogs chattering away. It was interesting to observe that some of them did not appear at all afraid of humans while others would start up a warning cry if we got too close.
If you are stupid like us, you will stop at Wall Drug after you wrap up your time in the Badlands. Don’t. Just don’t. It seems like a must stop because there are more billboards for Wall Drug than people in all of South Dakota, but I’m telling you there is absolutely no reason to stop there. Well, they are supposed to be famous for their donuts and 5 cent coffee (at least according to the billboards) but the place was such a madhouse we didn’t find either one of those things.
And, if you are really stupid, you will allot some time for the street art in Rapid City. Again, don’t. We love street art, can almost always find something to enjoy about street art, and we were horribly unimpressed. We should have spent those 10 minutes in the Badlands playing with the prairie dogs …. (joking, I think it took us all of about 3 minutes to look at the “art”).