If you are traveling across South Dakota on Interstate 90 (which if you are traveling East or West through the state, you most likely are, since the 90 is the only big freeway), your journey will take you directly past Ranch Store.
Located roughly a mile off of the freeway, and only a few miles from Badlands National Park, Ranch Store is easy to pass by. There is nothing really on the outside to tempt you in from the road, nor is it widely advertised. We only knew to stop there because my sister had been through South Dakota before and had heard of it somehow. Even then, none of us actually knew what it was. But she wanted to check it out, and we are always game for anything.
This gigantic 6-ton prairie dog out front was a good sign though.
Upon entering, you find yourself in a gift shop/market. The store is full of souvenirs and refreshments, and is actually a great place to pick up supplies on your way into Badlands National Park.
But the real reason to go to Ranch Store is…..the prairie dogs!!
Located next to the general store is a large colony of prairie dogs, and visitors are permitted to walk around and visit them. And for a small fee ($0.50 at the time of my visit, though I hear it is now $1) you can purchase a bag of unsalted peanuts to feed them!
I have since started referring to it as the best $1 I’ve ever spent.
These are seriously some of the most ridiculously adorable creatures on the planet. And since these guys are used to humans being around, they don’t run away or hide when you come near. If you are calm and patient, they will even eat the peanuts straight out of your hand!
I probably took about 100 photos of them. I couldn’t resist their cuteness. Those faces! Those fat bodies! Those little hands!!
Is this love? I daresay it is.
Here’s some more prairie dogs for your daily dose of cute.
The Ranch Store is open from late May through mid September.
Located on exit 131 off Interstate 90, 1.35 miles south on Loop 240.
Store Hours: 8am to 6pm
Picnic tables and refreshments available.
For additional information, check out the Ranch Store website.
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