May 24-26 Wall Drug, Badlands NP, Mammoth Site, Crazy Horse & Mt. Rushmore

As we drove back south toward Badlands National Park in South Dakota, we kept seeing signs for a place called “Wall Drug.” Billboard after billboard about it. It put Buc-ee’s signage to shame! (Digging further revealed that the signs stretched over 250 miles! Some say Wall Drug spends over $400K on this advertising!) The drug store was purchased in 1931 by Ted & Dorothy Hustead. They wanted to make money, so he had the ingenious idea of offering free ice water to bring customers in. It worked! Today Wall Drug still offers free ice water and also 5 cent coffee, but don’t think one drug store…it is a whole conglomeration of shops to tempt you with all manner of souvenirs. There is a center courtyard with many photo ops to keep the kids entertained.

After the obligatory Wall Drug stop we headed on to Badlands National Park. We were planning on dispersed camping just outside of the park itself. We arrived and discovered it was on a bluff overlooking the badlands. It was quite the drop and I remember praying our chocks would stay in place and we wouldn’t roll off the edge! #Adventure

Pictures just do not do it justice compared to how it looks in person!
Richard and I try to have a”coffee date” every morning…This was an especially awesome spot for it…right next to our camper. Definitely one of our favorite dispersed locations.
The road leading to our dispersed camping spot…it was hard to tell that the dropoff to the Badlands was so close by.
A good natural slide

About 2 hours away from Badlands NP was a place called The Mammoth Site. In June of 1974 (the month and year of my (Jen’s) birth), a heavy equipment operator was digging in order to clear land for a housing development. He hit something hard and got out to take a look. It was a tusk! He was very interested in this and called upon several universities to come and investigate; none were interested. Next, the equipment operator, whose name was George Hanson, invited his son Dan to take a look. Dan had an interest in archaeology and geology and had even taken some classes in the field. He spoke with a former professor and, when the professor saw the tusk, he knew they were on to something big (excuse the pun)…they had unearthed a mammoth graveyard! The man in charge of the project, realizing this was a much bigger investment that a housing development, allowed the Mammoth Site to be born!

Richard was working, so the kids and I explored the site. It was very interesting! There are still archaeologists and students who work there to reveal and maintain the bones.

So far more than 60 Columbian mammoths have been found at the Mammoth Site. As you can see, Columbian mammoths are even bigger than wooly mammoths.

After this our destination (as a whole family) was the Crazy Horse Memorial. They are creating a sculpture in the rock, similar to Mount Rushmore, which is still in progress. When we arrived we found out that admission was $30, and we didn’t have a lot of time. The person at the gate was kind enough to allow us to drive to the parking lot and take some pictures before turning around. We didn’t get to explore further but were thankful to get to grab some photos!

Now, on to Mount Rushmore!

The sculptor of Mount Rushmore…he must have passed his talent on to his son!

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