South Dakota: Wall to Rapid City
Part of: Old West Road Trip
*Friday, May 22, 2009
Wall, SD to Rapid City, SD
56 miles (50 minutes)*
David got up early to explore "downtown." Here's his video tour.
When I got up not too much later, we had a decent breakfast at the Cactus Cafe, then headed across the street to the famous Wall Drug.
Wall Drug was more fun than I expected. It is kitschy to the extreme, but that's its charm. It started when Ted and Dorothy Hustead bought a small drugstore in 1931, during the Great Depression. Business was bad until Dorothy came up with the idea of offering free ice water to travelers - turns out she was a marketing genius. Signs were put up on the highway and Wall Drug grew into the sprawling shopping center and tourist trap it is today.
The Husteads seem to have saved and framed absolutely every bit of memorabilia relating to their store, their family and local history. It was everywhere, and actually the most interesting part of the place.
After all that excitement, we packed up and headed back to Badlands National Park, where we drove another short section of the loop. The light was harsh by the time we got there so the pictures aren't great, but we had a good time.
Then we drove the hour or so to Rapid City, where we decided to take the rest of the day off from sightseeing. We had a delicious lunch at Fuddrucker's by the mall then checked into a Fairfield Inn, which was nice but right next door to a big waterpark so there were a whole lot of kids! David headed out to explore the local Cabela's while I relaxed in the hotel's A/C with a book.
Rapid City wasn't as nice as Sioux Falls at the other end of the state, but it is really handy for the main attractions of western South Dakota, such as Mount Rushmore, Deadwood and the Black Hills. The next day we saw all that, plus some nice unexpected sights. Photos coming in a few days.