The Drive is Part of the Fun…Right? I-90 Roadside Attractions
Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Over a span of a couple of years, my husband and I found ourselves on the same stretch of I-90 crossing Minnesota and South Dakota multiple times. In fact, we passed over that same stretch of road eight times in less than two years. It’s gorgeous country, but as some may know, it’s also very remote. However, it’s not devoid of several places to stop, stretch your legs, visit some iconic sites and maybe even stay the night before heading on to your final destination. So, for anyone travelling across this stretch of I-90, here are a few fun places to check out.
If you have ever found yourself on this stretch of highway, you can’t miss the Wall Drug billboards that stretch about 650 miles from Montana to Minnesota. Signs tout free cold water, five cent cups of coffee, moccasins, apparel, dinosaurs, boots, jewelry, food and activities for the entire family to enjoy. After passing the town of Wall several times, I finally convinced my husband to stop on one of our trips through. Regardless of the size of rig, getting in and out of town and finding parking is easy. A quick satellite view Google Map search revealed a large parking lot for campers and RVs on the corner of West 6th Avenue and Floyd Street. There are several gravel lots to park in as well off Floyd and West 7th Avenue as well as off Main and 5th Street. We chose our lot, turned on our generator for our pups and headed into town. Most of the downtown area is Wall Drug, but there are several other stores and restaurants that are worth visiting. We explored Wall Drug, bought our obligatory souvenirs and headed across the street for lunch at one of the local diners. For those looking to get a little more adventurous, there is some BLM land off Route 240 heading south right out of town. It’s along the Wall and offers some spectacular views! Before heading back there, we recommend dropping your rig in town and taking your toad to check it out first. The first time we went to boondock at the site, BLM had closed the area. Our next trip through about six months later, the area was reopened. Look for the cell phone tower and you’ll see a gravel and dirt drive off to the left. The fence can be pulled off to the side (close it after you’ve gone through) and find your boondocking piece of paradise. Beware of mud, especially after rains and some of the “roads” back in the area can get pretty tore up, which is why we recommend leaving the rig in town before hauling it back there and getting stuck. Google Maps is pretty good getting you to the turn off for the land; look for “Badlands Boondocking Area.”
Another stop on I-90 is 1880 Town. It’s about an hour west from Wall and offers easy on and off access to I-90 as well as a RV parking lot across the street. Again, after much begging and pleading, I got my husband to stop here on one of our passing throughs. Some of the more interesting things to look at in 1880 Town are the 14-sided circle barn (where the tour starts) and movie props from Dances with Wolves. The town offers more than 30 buildings from 1880 to 1920. Some are authentic and were moved to this area to preserve them and other buildings are reproductions. One of the buildings houses a Casey Tibbs exhibit, who was a 9-time World Champion Rodeo Cowboy. Most all of the buildings hold antiques, relics and information on the building, where it was originally located and how it was used. Artifacts help bring the story to life. Sadly, some of the buildings are in desperate need of repair and most everything is covered in layers of dust; hardly avoidable in the barren lands of this area. If you build up an appetite, look no further than the 50’s Train Diner outside the front entrance just be sure to check their hours of operation. Unfortunately for us, we enjoyed 1880 Town a little too long and the diner was closed by the time we were ready to eat.
Driving along this stretch of I-90, you may see horns stretching up into the sky. No, the earth didn’t grow horns. They are the horns of a 60-foot-tall metal structure of a bull’s head in Porter Sculpture Park. This park in Montrose, South Dakota holds some 50 sculptures made by Wayne Porter. Dog friendly and spanning across 18 acres, this is a great place to stretch your legs and get some unique pictures of some unique art such as the giant pink rocking horse, the winged dragon and even a fish bowl. Unable to walk the park but still want to explore? No worries, they offer golf carts for the walking-impaired.
Corn Palace is a free attraction that is located in Mitchell, South Dakota and houses annual rotating murals made from 12 different colored corn kernels and corn cobs. Originally started in 1892, the Corn Palace was designed as a place for the community to gather and celebrate the fall festival which was a celebration of the end of the crop growing and harvesting season. Over the years, the building has expanded, offering a place for dances, meetings, shows, graduations and basketball tournaments. While still a place for the community to gather, the Corn Palace offers impressive designs, all done in corn, that can be found on the inside and outside of this building that over 500,000 tourists enjoy on an annual basis.
Though a somewhat barren stretch of land, there is still plenty to see and do in this gorgeous countryside. There are several more roadside attractions outside of the few we mentioned here such as Al’s Oasis, Pioneer Auto Show, Dinosaur Park, Pioneer Village, Jolly Green Giant Museum and Storybook Island. Have a favorite you recommend? We’d love to hear about it! Publishers@rvdestinationsmagazine.com