We’ve all heard of weird roadside attractions before, but did you know that South Dakota actually has quite a few of its own? And I’m talking weirder than “The World’s Largest Ball of Twine” sort of weird. These places are very strange and will probably cause you to take a second glance just to make sure you’re believing what you’re seeing. These eight roadside attractions are just that crazy:
1. The Giant Prairie Dog
This hefty rodent weighs a whopping six tons. He stands alert in front of the Ranch Store near the Badlands National Park. Why build a giant prairie dog in front of your store? I mean, why not? He's been standing guard there for decades.
2. Petrified Wood Forest
This forest doesn't really look much like a forest at all, rather an interesting formation of rocks. They aren't actually rocks, but solidified wood from trees that grew in South Dakota hundreds of thousands of years ago. With the proper conditions, they mineralized and turned as hard as rock, but are basically fossilized prehistoric trees. You can visit these trees in Lemmon, SD.
3. Porter Sculpture Park
This giant metal dragon is one of the more tame pieces at Porter Sculpture Park. There are very weird, sometimes creepy and venturing into the category of macabre, pieces here in this roadside attraction. For example, they have "Vulture Row," a series of vultures on trees that are pretty much threatening to kill you as you walk down the path. Some hold anvils over your head, others giant hammers. This place is totally bizarre to say the least. It's located right off of I-90 near Montrose.
4. Art Alley
When driving in Rapid City, you rarely look down any of the alleyways, but this alley is sure to catch your eye. Due to a loophole in land ownership, this alleyway has been transformed from dull to bright and colorful. Tons of artists, if you can call all of them that, make their mark on this alley all the time and it's constantly changing. This place really stands out! You can see it while driving down 7th Street in Rapid City.
5. Wall Drug
The Wall Drug is one of the most famous roadside attractions in all of the United States. There are just so many wacky things to see there. The first that will get your attention is, of course, this giant dinosaur (okay, and all the signs that line the interstate). But that's just the beginning. Right outside the store's door is a giant Jackelope with a saddle to ride on. They have stuffed bucking horses you jump on and get a picture with, as well. And the inside? Well you'd have to go in to see for yourself. It's way different than any other small town drug store by a landslide! It is located in Wall, SD, of course, right on Main Street.
6. Cosmos Mystery Area
This small tourist trap will have your head spinning. The way these shacks are built will confuse and amaze anyone walking through them. Uneven floors and places where when two people switch places they change sizes makes the Cosmos Mystery Area very fitting of its name. It's a total mystery, and something out of this world. You can check it out for yourself on Cosmos Road in Rapid City.
7. Walking the Dinosaur
Now this is something you don't see every day. Someone is taking their dinosaur out for a casual stroll on the prairie! This gentle giant can be seen on its walk off of the interstate near Murdo, SD.
8. The World's Largest Pheasant
Pheasants are a pretty common sight in South Dakota, but one this big is definitely a little out of the ordinary. This majestic sculpture stands proudly in Huron, SD. This town boasts some of the best pheasant hunting in the country so understandably they'd make it known that you can very easily find pheasants here. I wouldn't try hunting this one, though. You'd have to have one big bird dog to retrieve it!
Some of these would definitely startle me a bit if I happened to drive by them, others would probably make me so crazy with curiosity that I would just have to pull off and visit them! Have you seen any of these yourself? They’re great to look out for and spot on a road trip, and if you’re looking for drives that are scenic (in ways other than with unusual sculptures, that is), try
these scenic byways in South Dakota. Summer is the perfect time for a drive!