Search This Blog

Thursday, June 9, 2016

World's Only Corn Palace - Mitchell, South Dakota

If you read the title of today's post and you were intrigued and confused, then congratulations, you are normal.  If you read today's post and were familiar with the term "Corn Palace South Dakota", then I am the one confused. How do you guys know about something called the Corn Palace?

After leaving the Badlands, we spent the night in Murdo, South Dakota to evade one of the most terrifying storms I have seen.  So much rain, so much lightening, and so many semi's flying by me whipping poor Penny the Penske all over the highway.  The next day we were back on the road, heading East on I-90 with really no planned attractions.  We were just crossing through the entire length of South Dakota before dropping into and spending the night in Wisconsin.  

Penske outside the hotel in Murdo, South Dakota
Co-Pilot settled in for day 3 of the haul 
Thatcher and I had been using walkie talkies to communicate via traffic, directions, coffee, and bathroom breaks.  When he came over the walkie talkie declaring we were close to "The Worlds Only Corn Palace" I was confused.  Apparently not one, but several people mentioned that if we were traveling through South Dakota, we should stop at the palace (Corn Palace that is).  With no planned stops for the day and morale low, we took the short detour off the highway to visit the palace. 

First Impressions:  Let's start by saying duh, it's a tourist trap.  But when you are in the middle of South Dakota with nothing to do, nowhere to be, nowhere to see, it's an excuse to get out and stretch your legs.  And why not?  It is FREE.  Dogs are allowed (even inside the building!).  There are corn dogs.   Those are the only excuses I needed.  Overall, it was a cool building to walk through, buy some corny souvenirs, grab a snack and use the bathroom before continuing East. 

Buildings like the corn palace (yes, there were other palaces..) were built to celebrate agriculture in the mid-west and help stimulate economic growth in Mitchell.  The palace was first built in 1892, but burnt to the ground several times in fires.  

"A-Maiz-ing Corn Palace Facts":  The Corn palace is redecorated EVERY YEAR sporting a new theme.  This year's theme being "Rock of Ages".  There are permanent corn murals inside the building, but the outside murals change each year with the new theme.  600,000 pieces of corn are used to decorate the outside each year.  3,000 bushels of grains and grasses are also used each year: milo, rye, and sour dock.  Thirteen different colors of Indian corn are used to create the mural pictures.  Over a ton of nails, staples and wire are used to fasten the corn and grasses.  Approximately $150,000 is spent each year for redecorating. 500,000 tourists come from around the nation each year.

Informational display about the corn used to make the corn palace 
When we walked in, we were greeted by a lovely corn palace tour guide who showed us around in a quick little tour, giving us the important corn palace facts.  She brought us over to this little booth (above) that showed some of the corn used (and various colors) to create the murals. 

The lobby area has displays, restrooms, and a cafe where you can get popcorn, corn dogs, or other corn based snacks.

Hours:  The World’s Only Corn Palace is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. April, May, September, October and November hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. December-March hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

When you enter the auditorium, you are greeted by a large souvenir shop placed in an auditorium area.  The corn palace is also used for large events like basketbal games and concerts, 

We took some pictures and I had to buy this super soft corny t-shirt, and a post card to laugh at in the future when I find it again. 

After touring the inside, we went outside to see the murals in this years theme:  Rock of Ages.  The corn are cut in half to have a flat surface to nail on the wall, and the murals were very impressive.  We spent some time gazing at corn Elvis, before hopping back in the truck and back on the highway. 

We left the corn palace behind us, and we were back on the highway with a new random funny destination to stop at to break up the drive,  the Jolly Green Giant of Blue Earth, South Dakota. 


  1. I think my life is now complete. Thank you for the virtual tour of the corn palace!

  2. I've been there like twice, it's an interesting place. Not much else there! I didn't know Thatcher was with you! -Alicia @

  3. That's awesome! I recently drove down to Indianapolis from Toronto for the Indy 500, and the only "corny" tourist attraction we saw along the way was the Jame Dean Museum just outside of Fort Wayne. The Corn Palace has now just raised the bar for me in terms of quirky American roadside attractions.


Let's Chat!