Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Summer Road Trip Part 2: Exploring South Dakota

On Day 3 of my road trip, we started the drive early in the morning because it was a 4.5-hour drive to the first stop heading north to South Dakota. The World Famous Corn Palace was the first destination in Mitchell, South Dakota.

The Corn Palace, South Dakota: (Mile 900 to 1243)

Corn Palace
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The Corn Palace attracts over a half million tourists every year to see the original corn murals. The only corn palace in the world was established in 1892 on Main Street in Mitchell.

I honestly didn’t know much about the Corn Palace before arriving but my friend Brian said it was a must-see attraction. I am a sucker for a roadside attraction so I am very glad we did make the stop.

Corn Palace
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The palace was started as a gathering place where city residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival with an extraordinary celebration to climax a crop-growing season and harvest.

This tradition continues today with the annual Corn Palace Festival held in late August each year. A visit to the Corn Palace is a short one and only takes an hour or two so.

The outside walls are redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. The artists use 12 different colors or shades of corn to decorate the palace with a different theme chosen each year.

The decorating process starts in late May with the removal of the rye and dock. The corn murals are stripped at the end of August and the new ones are completed by the first of October.

Corn Palace Murals
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

The mural designs are created by Dakota Wesleyan University students enrolled in Digital Media and Design courses under the guidance of Associate Professor, Kyle Herges. It was amazing to see the intricate designs made of corn on all sides of the building.

A gift shop gives you the opportunity to buy all things “corn” souvenirs. For each leg of the trip, I chose to buy old-fashioned postcards to send off to see friends and family to chronicle the trip with a little bit of nostalgia.

Chamberlain, South Dakota

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

After I took many photos of the palace we were back on the road. We headed to the next stop in Chamberlain, South Dakota. There we saw the Native American woman statue called Dignity of Earth and Sky.

The soaring sculpture stands high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River and the view is spectacular. The sculpture depicts a woman is wearing a star quilt that is the color of the water and the sky. The statue is 50′ tall and weighs 12 tons. It is made of hundreds of pieces of stainless steel.

Sculptor Dale Claude Lamphere worked on the Dignity of Earth and Sky in 2015.

“My intent is for the sculpture to stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred and in a sacred place.” – Dale Claude Lamphere

I could have stayed and looked at the sculpture all day. We had perfect weather to see and photograph the art piece. But the road trip had to continue toward the Badlands.

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Amy Harris
Amy Harris is a writer and photographer who has been traveling for 20 years and flown over 2 million miles to visit over 80 countries on 6 continents. She is a freelance photographer for Invision by Associated Press, AP Images and Rex/Shutterstock. Her work can be seen in various publications and websites including: Rolling Stone, AP Images, National Geographic Books, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Forbes.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guides, JetStar magazine, and Delta Sky Magazine.

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