Home » 2000 Cross Country Road Trip

Wall Drug, SD

Monday, July 31, 2000 - 4:00am by Lolo
80 miles and 1.5 hours from our last stop


The kids, especially Tommy, love to shop, so when we told them about Wall Drug they were pretty worked up. We didn't have any choice but to tell them. It's impossible to sneak through South Dakota without seeing the hundreds of signs lining the highway, counting down the mileage to Wall Drug and trying to lure you in with the promise of free ice water--pretty good marketing ploy. The Husteads started it back in 1931 in an attempt to get cars to come off the highway and shop in their drug store. It worked. Today it's the largest drug store in the world.

Kids at Wall Drug 'Mount Rushmore'Kids at Wall Drug 'Mount Rushmore'You could buy everything there. They had camping supplies, jewelry, cowboy clothes, rattlesnake ashtrays, tacky souvenirs, and thankfully, hat pins to add to our collection. Even better than all the nosh they were selling, were the free attractions. There was a life-sized Cowboy Orchestra that played every 15 minutes, a shooting gallery, a miniaturized version of Mt. Rushmore, and my personal animated favorite--a giant 30-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex that scared the you-know-what out of us every 15 minutes even though we knew it was coming.

The whole Wall Drug experience was unbelievable. With all the natural wonders we were seeing, it was good to throw in a little culture once in awhile.


Anyone that has traveled across South Dakota on I90 is sure to have seen the hundreds of signs advertising free ice water at Wall Drug. The story of what has now become one of South Dakota's main visitor attractions began in 1931 when Dorothy and Ted Hustead purchased the only drugstore in the small town of Wall, at the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. After 5 years of tough times during the Depression, Dorothy had an idea to get people to stop in their store: put up signs on the highway advertising free ice water. That simple concept, combined with great service and good prices, has helped the Hustead's grow their business into the world's largest drug store.

Wall Drug T-RexWall Drug T-RexToday the store is a giant block-long emporium which draws more than 20,000 visitors a day in the summer. Besides being a store selling everything from Western wear to camping supplies to Indian jewelry, it is also a museum displaying thousands of historical photographs and memorabilia of its history and the region's. Even more of a draw are the free attractions, such as the life-size animated Chuck Wagon Quartet, the 30 foot high animated T-Rex that comes to life every 15 minutes, a replica of Mt. Rushmore, a shooting gallery arcade, and much more. There's even a dining room serving great country food that seats over 500 people.

Today the signs telling how many miles to Wall Drug not only extend for hundreds of miles along I90 in South Dakota, but they are found in numerous places around the world, including the North Pole, India, Kenya, Paris, etc. Some of these signs were put there by Wall Drug but many others by happy customers just wanting to spread the word.

Jim on May 6, 2013

Congrats again on a wonderful site. I will eventually read every word.

But I just had to chime in again here at Wall Drug. My son Brian loves this place. We always stop here. Itsa good place to just get off the road for an hour or two, stop for lunch, walk thru the various buildings and hike up and down the main drag.

One year, when Brian and I did a week in yellowstone driving , my 68 Camaro convertible, we overnited here at one of the hotels.

Reading this whole trip has been wonderful and fun. A chain of dakota newspapers is one of my biggest customers, and twice a year, I head out from chicago in the motorhome to spend a week saying hi to where much of our money comes from. Love the dakotas! The badlands are my favorite, and TR national park is right up there. There is a really fun 2 lane that goes south from TR down to the rapid city area in SD.

Next time you are in jamestown, skip the KOA, it sucks. On the way into town, you'll see "the worlds biggest bufalo"
Under the bufalo is an old fashioned wild west town. Next door is a really cool old west museum. and next door to that is a decent campground. Just get off the interstate after you pass the big bufalo and head up the hill.


Herb on May 8, 2013

Thanks for the advice Jim on a better campground. We will definitely have to check it out.

A 68 Camaro Convertible sounds like a great way to see the sights... I'm still not giving up trying to replicate many of our trips with my Honda ST-1100 motorcycle. We'll see how my back holds up.

Finally, if you do ever read every word, please let us know. There are a few people who claim to have done the same,,, and I'm not sure that even my boys are part of that "exclusive" club.

Safe travels,


Wall Drug location map in "high definition"

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