Wall, SD is a tiny town on the southern edge of the South Dakota Badlands, an area of desolate beauty, abundant wildlife, and ancient fossils. The town of Wall was incorporated in 1908, but wasn’t really put on the map until 1931, when a pharmacist named Ted Hustead and his wife Dorothy purchased the town drug store, and tried to make a go of it in the midst of the Great Depression. They watched as car after car passed them by without stopping until Dorothy came up with the idea of offering free ice water to the hot and thirsty travelers. Her ploy worked, and today the facility has grown from a small local pharmacy to Wall Drug Mall, an internationally known tourist destination.
Some may describe Wall Drug as a tourist trap, and it may well be one. But it is one of the best the world has ever seen. Two million people each year visit from all over the world. The area around Wall abounds with interesting things to do and places to see. The Badlands are a marvel to behold, there are a number of wildlife refuges where you can observe buffalo, antelope, mule deer, and the ubiquitous prairie dogs. Mount Rushmore is a short drive away. But Wall Drug has become a destination in itself.
Don’t be fooled by the name – this isn’t your ordinary drug store. This place is a collection of shops offering everything you need or want. And things you never knew you needed or wanted. Jackalope, anyone? You can purchase clothing, jewelry, art, leather goods, or hundreds of souvenirs. Once again, jackalope, anyone? There’s a restaurant that seats hundreds, with art displayed on the walls. The baked goods are fresh and homemade, and the coffee still costs just a nickel a cup!
The Backyard, as they call it, is the perfect place for the kids to let off some steam after being cooped up in the car. Let them play in the Train Station Water Show, which features splashing jets of water. Pose in front of the giant dinosaur, or jump on the huge Jackalope statue, saddled up and ready to go. Or your family can simply enjoy a quiet picnic in one of America’s most iconic roadside attractions. But be aware that the Backyard is open seasonally. Those South Dakota winters can get awfully cold!
Wall Drug is located just 55 miles east of Rapid City in I-90 at exits 109 and 110. It’s a excellent jumping off point to learn about, and visit, the amazing attractions in the area.