Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wall Drug and the Badlands

Every year around Labor Day weekend I make my annual trip home to South Dakota.  Late August found me following I-90's endless ribbon, across Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming until finally this:

Almost home!

Hey, it's the South Dakota state line!  Yahoo - I'm almost home! 

World famous Wall Drug

During the week I spent at home, one of the first places on my "must visit" list was the Badlands.  But you can't take a trip to the Badlands without stopping by the town of Wall and the world-famous Wall Drug Store!  So my parents and I dropped in for lunch and a quick tour.

Western character

Wall Drug was created by Ted Hustead, when he bought the small drugstore in 1931.  To entice travelers to stop at this tiny town, his wife suggested offering free ice water.  From that point on business was brisk.  The drugstore has grown into a cowboy-themed shopping mall featuring a western art museum, chapel, restaurant (buffalo burgers are their specialty), and dozens of kitschy animated western scenes.

Any kind of shop imaginable!

Besides free ice water, Wall Drug's claim to fame is the many billboards lining I-90 in both directions, through South Dakota and into the neighboring states.  There's even Wall Drug signs in many US states and other countries, all noting the mileage to this famous tourist attraction.  Wall Drug also offers free bumper stickers (with slogans such as "Where the heck is Wall Drug?") to anyone who asks.

I found a friend

As a kid growing up nearby, I loved stopping by Wall Drug.  It was good fun to put a quarter in and listen to the animated cowboy orchestra sing.  Or watch the animals play poker.  Or strike a pose by one of the wooden western figures.

Hot poker game

But the best part was outside....in the Wall Drug "backyard."  Here one could find a life-sized stuffed buffalo, or a larger than life rabbit, a covered wagon that kids could scramble on, or.....you could ride the famous jackalope!

Ridin' the jackalope

What can I say?  I'm just a kid at heart!

Yes, some may dismiss Wall Drug as just another gimmicky tourist trap, but I happen to love it's charming corniness. 

Badlands overlook

After getting my Wall Drug fix for another year, my parents and I drove the short 20 miles to Badlands National Park.  Our mid-afternoon arrival on a sunny, hot day didn't make the best conditions for photography.


But the dramatic eroded hillsides are picturesque no matter the time of day.  My dad willingly drove the main Badlands Loop Road, from the Pinnacles entrance to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, pulling off whenever I spotted something to photograph.

Painted hills

It was a blazing hot day, so my parents often stayed in their air-conditioned car while I hopped out to capture the scenery.

Lone sunflower

Despite the hot, dry weather, a few yellow wildflowers were still blooming.  I also enjoyed the wide-open panoramic views from some overlooks.  You could see afternoon clouds building across the horizon.

Afternoon clouds building

The Badlands is also known for it's prolific wildlife - buffalo, antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs!  Prairie dog towns litter the landscape, and the little critters are fun to watch.

Prairie dog trio

I was hoping to capture some images of these cute little rodents.  But the first place my dad stopped, the prairie dogs scampered down their holes the minute I got out of the car.

Prairie dog kiss

Driving a little further, my dad noticed a prairie dog town that was right up to the road's pavement.  Prairie dogs were sitting at the very edge of the road.

Fat little guy

Parking the car right next to their holes didn't faze the prairie dogs in the least.  I discovered as long as I didn't leave my dad's car the prairie dogs stayed put.  So I stuck my camera lens out the window and fired away.


Oh I got some great photos!  The prairie dogs had some cute poses.....so much fun to watch!  My dad even spotted a meadowlark in the grass, and I was able to capture several images of it too.

I really liked this scruffy one

Wide-open spaces, a quirky drugstore, and super-cute grassland critters - my South Dakota trip was off to a great start!

But even better, I was about to meet another long time blogging buddy.  Stop by my next post to find out who!

Sharing with:  Saturday's Critters


  1. Great photos and great memories of our trip to a wall Drugs and the Badlands. Loved the Prairie Dogs and you on the Jackalope. Almost bought a Jackalope souvenire but didn't quite make the purchase. Brought a postcard home instead :)

  2. What a wonderful trip this isfor you and great memeories for you along the way. You are like a little kid in the frug store adn haaaving great funmm and why not. The prairie dogs shots are all fantastic and posing well for you.

  3. wow what a hilarious trip to badlands .i can see why do they are called so .but still they are beautiful part of nature .

    your ride on the Jackalope displays your inner child so beautifully .
    loved your capturing of rodents .
    thank you for making your friends a part of your adventurous trip dear

  4. Muito boas estas fotografias e gostei de ver a minha amiga a se divertir.
    Continuação de uma boa semana.

  5. Linda, you make the Bad Lands look quite GOOD. Thanks for taking me along.

  6. Loved this post and the photos. I have to confess though I've never heard of 'world famous' Wall Drug although I do know about the natural features like The Badlands (enjoyed the Terrence Malick 1973 film with the same name) Mount Rushmore (North by Northwest) and Prairie Dogs (Disney educational films and cartoons)
    If I ever watched a film shot at Wall Drug I must have forgotten that bit but it does look interesting. Maybe great natural features just stick in the mind more with a bigger wow factor but I enjoyed seeing where you grew up.

  7. Hello, Wall Drug looks like a fun place to visit. The North Dakota and Badlands scenery is beautiful. I like the cute prairie dogs and the meadowlark. Wonderful series of photos. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

  8. Prairie dogs are awesome! (I bet the farmers are not so fond of them though!

  9. I forgot to say...you look like a big happy kid reliving your childhood!!!! ;-)

  10. I absolutely love this post, Linda! I love all your photos from the nature ones to the store fronts...and I thoroughly enjoyed this tour! Other than photos of nature, I love to see store fronts, restaurants and towns in different parts of the world and you have made my day today. So thank you so much for sharing! :)

  11. Looks like a great trip so far. And yes, I-90 does go on forever!

  12. I remember Wall Drug, and all those billboards we starting seeing as soon as we entered South Dakota! We took the kids west in 1990, the Badlands, Yellowstone, and north into the Okamogan Valley in B.C. Beautiful country!

  13. Wall Drug looks like fun. Love the prairie dog pictures!

  14. Wonderful to take the trip back home with you. I've fallen in love with the prairie dogs.

  15. Nice pictures and interesting reporting

  16. My first view of the Badlands (and Wall Drug!) - a bit different from the West Coast Mountains!

  17. What a spectacular place! Looks like so much fun.

  18. Wow! This is fabulous scenery. I've heard all my life that it was gorgeous up that way, but never got to see it for myself. Thanks for taking us along. Everything looks wonderful, especially that drug store. What fun!

  19. Been a while it's been a while since I've traveled that route. All great captures, but you on the jackalope really made me smile.

  20. Badlands is very spectacular. The landscape is just incredible.

  21. Hello Linda, I wanted to stop back and say thanks so much for linking up your cute critters and post. The prairie dogs are so cute and I loved the Meadowlark. Happy Sunday, enjoy your weekend!

  22. Hi! It's nice you can enjoy both Badlands and the Wall Drug. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.  I wish I could go there. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Linda, I burst out laughing when I saw you riding the Jackalope! You looks so happy to be back in your childhood surroundings! Glad you didn't get to close to those Prairie Dogs - I hear they carry Bubonic Plague!

  24. I sadly missed Wall Drugs on my trip to SD! We did see the badlands National park, however--it was one of my husband's favorites

  25. That drugstore would be so fun to visit. Loving the Jackalope - You looked to be having such fun. - Totally in awe of the badlands rock formations. Also loved the cute prairie dogs.

  26. Enjoyed the drugstore travelogue, but really, you had me at Badlands National Park!

  27. The prairie dogs are adorable and the landscape is stunning.


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