On the Road with Tom and Gloria travel blog

Stop halfway from Sioux Falls to Rapid City

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Entrance to secure area


Missile "Hidden in Plain Site"

Viewing enclosure

An OK stop - not a must


Claim to fame

Before leaving Sioux Falls this morning, I stopped at the Fairgrounds to say hi to Maxine and Alan. They were the park hosts when I had my RV there during the first month of Tom's hospital stay. They looked out for me and even offered to drive my motorhome to Texas when the weather turned wintry . I was shocked to hear that Maxine is in the hospital and things are not looking good. Alan was happy to hear from me and filled me in on all that has happened . Sad, sad, news.

I got on I90W and was happy to get out of the car and stretch my legs at Al's Oasis in Chamberlain. It's a perfect place to stop - halfway to Rapid City.

My overnight destination was Wall, but 10 miles or so before getting there, I stopped at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site . I went on the 1pm tour and thought it quite interesting. It's a fairly new Park Service Site ( 1999) so there is no real Visitor's Center. I had to get off the highway at the exit for the Badlands ( tomorrow's drive) , pick up my ticket for the 1pm tour, then drive 4 miles down the road, take the tour, then drive another 4 miles down the road to see the underground training missile.

According to the literature, the ICBM was developed in the 50's as part of air-land-sea based nuclear weapons. The missiles were in unstaffed silos and, if necessary, would be launched by crew who were miles away. A missile was never launched during the Cold War. There are no longer any active ICBM missiles in South Dakota but there are still 500 nuclear missiles around the upper Great Plains.

I chose to spend the night in Wall because it is a perfect starting point to explore the Badlands tomorrow. After checking into the hotel, I walked to the famous Wall Drug. In 1936 the owners of what was then a small town pharmacy came up with an ingenious idea to get people to stop there. They knew that travelers going through the dusty prairie would be thirsty so they put up signs all along the highway advertising free ice water. Today , besides free water, coffee is a nickel and veterans get free coffee and donuts. Wall Drug is now a whole block filled with shops and bad food and , personally, if it wasn't for the location for the north entrance to the Badlands, I would pass it up.

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