Road to Nowhere

Cutting across America’s heartland, US‑83 remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Standing Rock Indian Reservation: Mobridge

Since US-83’s route across northern South Dakota doesn’t offer much stimulation for the senses, if you’ve got the time to spare, detour west along the Missouri River, leaving North Dakota via the Lewis and Clark Highway, Hwy-1806. This scenic route brings you across the middle of Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which falls mainly in South Dakota but stretches about 30 miles over the border.

On Hwy-1806, at tiny Kenel, a historical marker points out the site of fur-trading Fort Manuel, where Lewis and Clark’s guide Sacagawea may have died of fever in 1812, at the age of 25. South of Kenel, the road runs straight south, away from the winding Missouri River and toward imposing 2,200-foot Rattlesnake Butte. After 26 miles or so, you’ll cross on sweeping bridges into Mobridge (pop. 3,465), the biggest town between the North and South Dakota capitals.

Mobridge, once a village of the Arikara tribe, is heavily dependent on the anglers who come to pluck the lunkers, walleye, and even 20-pound northern pike from Lake Oahe. The area’s earlier history and Native American culture are celebrated on the walls inside the Scherr-Howe Event Center (212 N. Main St., Mon.-Fri., free), where bold 16 by 20-foot murals depict Sioux history and culture. These murals were painted as part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration by native Yankton Sioux artist Oscar Howe (1915-1983).

The most interesting food option is Rick’s Café (117 N. Main St., 605/845-5300), in downtown Mobridge, famed for its award-winning chili and burgers. The Wrangler Inn (820 W. Grand Crossing, 605/845-3641, $79 and up), a half mile west on US-12, is the best overnight stop on the stretch, with two dining rooms and a heated pool.

Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Kenel
Mobridge
Scherr-Howe Event Center (212 N. Main St.)
Rick’s Café (117 N. Main St.)
Wrangler Inn (820 W. Grand Crossing)