Our #Vanlife adventure continued with a 165 mile (265 km) drive from Badlands National Park in South Dakota to Devils Tower in Wyoming. This drive kept us on Interstate 90, where the views were nothing to write home (or blog) about. It was a short drive, one we spent doing crossword puzzles, debating on whether or not to stop at Mount Rushmore, and making a quick stop at the famous Wall Drug.
From the moment we crossed the border into South Dakota, we started to see signs for Wall Drug. For the nearly 300 miles (482 km) between the Minnesota border to Wall, South Dakota, there were advertisements galore.
Although I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, there was no way that we were going to miss a stop at Wall Drug. Thankfully, Wall is one of the closest cities to Badlands National Park, so it took no time at all. The main drag of Wall was a cute collection of shops and restaurants in an Old West style.
Wall Drug is a HUGE drug store with a front and back area, each segmented into various shops, almost like a mall in miniature. The front area has gift shops, statues for photo opportunities, dancing robots, candy shops, a restaurant, doughnut stall, clothing store, tourist information kiosk, and a chapel. Oh, and an actual drug store. After walking up and down Wall’s main street, we noticed that all of the restaurants were in the same price range (over-priced), so we ended up eating at the Wall Drug cafeteria, which served large portions and allowed for some good people watching.
The back section of Wall Drug is known as The Backyard and is a little more family friendly. There are statues to pose with, including the ever elusive jackalope (half jack rabbit and half antelope), a plastic stage coach, and a T-Rex. There are more gift shops, an arcade, and a little bit of space for kids to run around. It is also hosts Wall Drug’s “famous” free, cold water fountain. Overall, Wall Drug is not worth traveling to [Editor’s note: I disagree], but it was kind of a fun stop since we were passing through anyway.
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
The remaining 2.5 hour drive was easy going. We had considered stopping at Mount Rushmore along the way, but it was a bit foggy. I had seen too many pictures of people posing in front of a cloud of mist where the faces of the presidents should be, so, we opted to skip the majestic mountain monument and instead went straight to the northeast corner of Wyoming to Devil’s Tower National Monument.
Once we were off the freeway, the road wound through hills that occasionally gave glimpses of the tower. It was so interesting to see the beautifully rolling landscape with Devil’s Tower just thrusting out of the earth as if from nowhere.
We chose to spend some extra cash to camp directly below Devil’s Tower at the Devil’s Tower/ Black Hills KOA. It cost about $30 per night to park in the grass, but we had a picnic table, fire pit, tree cover, and wifi. The site also included access to clean bathrooms, hot showers, laundry machines, a pool, playground, and an on-site restaurant. We are livin’ large!
I have been obsessed with Devil’s Tower since I was a kid. My sister and I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind WAY more often than I would like to admit. Since then, I have been wanting to visit this strange mountain and find out what is really on top of it. Can’t wait!
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