It would be very difficult not to notice this giant concrete prairie dog while you are driving down the road in Cactus Flat, South Dakota, on your way to Badlands National Park. I immediately pulled into the parking lot of the Ranch Store and one of my daughters and I hopped out of the car to get a picture. (Everyone else was half asleep.) But what really hooked us and convinced us to stay a while was the actual prairie dog town located there.
My kids and I agree that prairie dogs are simply the cutest wildlife there is. And these prairie dogs are used to being around humans, so they don’t get frightened easily. When Corinne and I didn’t return to the car after a while, the rest of the family got out to see what had detained us.
The Ranch Store sells unsalted peanuts to feed to the prairie dogs for a reasonable 50 cents a bag. We had arrived early, before the store opened, so my kids scrounged around to find some uneaten peanuts to feed to the prairie dogs.
We couldn’t get enough and eventually we stayed long enough that the store opened and we went in and bought some prairie dog food and some souvenirs. And eventually I was able to convince all three kids to pose for a picture with the giant prairie dog. What was an entirely unplanned stop turned out to a really fun and memorable destination.
Have you encountered unexpected fun destinations on your travels? Please tell us about them in the comments!
Ready to visit?
The Ranch Store of the Badlands
S Dakota 240
Cactus Flats, SD 57567
Directions on website
Open late May through mid-September, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.