Day 21 – More Than Expected From South Dakota

Sunday, September 12, 2010
Miles To Date: 
2 395

We woke up this morning relieved that we could finally leave the horrible motel we stayed in! We started the day by checking out the namesake of Sioux Falls; the Falls itself. This was better than expected, and was a decent sized waterfall set in lots of the red clay we saw at Pipestone.

After, we set off for our accommodation at Badlands National Park. Our first unplanned stop enroute was at ‘The World’s Only Corn Palace’ in Mitchell. We saw signs a few miles before and were intrigued by what we read. It turned out this was a building completely devoted to corn (obviously!), where giant murals were made from corn-on-the-cobs, and various corn related items were displayed. This was a bizarre site – only in the USA! The locals completely redesign the murals every year at a cost of $130,000, while the palace has been through three incarnations since the late 1800s. On the way out of the town we filled up at a petrol station offering student discount – something they definitely wouldn’t have at home!

Next we drove to Chamberlain where the Akta Lakota Native American museum is located. This was on a small reservation where only natives are allowed to live. The museum was small but nicely done and had some interesting pieces from the last 150 years or so. These included many hunting tools, furs and garments. It was interesting to learn about how they were persecuted by the white man and eventually massacred until they would surrender their lands. The town itself was right on the Missouri river which allowed for some great views, especially with the perfect blue skies and temperature around 28 degrees.

Our final stop was another unplanned visit that we only discovered from motorway signs. It was at a ghost town from the 1880s ‘wild west’ period. This was very interesting and was an entire village composed of around 30 original buildings, each with original artefacts in them. We found some tiny kittens in one of the buildings which Lauren was very happy about! There was also an exhibit devoted to the film Dances With Wolves, which was filmed almost entirely in South Dakota.

After all this we made it to our motel in a tiny village called Interior about half a mile outside of Badlands National Park. The population is just 67 and no one under the age of 18 even lives here! We ended up having dinner in the only bar/restaurant in the area where we sat eating pizza (and I had a beer) with some local cowboys. They offered to buy us drinks to make us stay but we politely declined since we have an early start tomorrow to see the sunrise (which is apparently amazing here over the park).

Photo(s) of the day: some rather happy corn outside the corn palace and the 1880s wild west town.