Scenic and the Badlands

Until just recently, you could have bought the entire town of Scenic, South Dakota, for under $800,000. It was once a Wild West town, founded in 1906, and comes with a saloon, dance hall, museum, bunkhouse, two stores, a train depot, and two jails, although we saw only one. Population: nine.
However, a Filipino church called Iglesia Ni Cristo, or Church of Christ, just beat you to it.

We first heard about Scenic from a New Zealand couple at breakfast in Rapid City one morning. Intrigued by photography potential, we drove out on Highway 27 to get a look. Here’s what we found:

Longhorn Saloon

The Longhorn Saloon. When I took the photo, I didn’t take time to read the sign. Was startled to later read, “Indians Welcome. . . Lakota,” then indecipherable words. I don’t know if that meant only those tribes were welcome? Lakota refers to part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes and speak Lakȟóta, one of the three major dialects of the Sioux language.

In case you were wondering, those are indeed skulls on top of the place.

Longhorn Saloon closeup

I thought Longhorns were only in Texas, but I’m no ranching expert.

Next up, the jail.

Scenic jail

I think it looks more like a dog kennel.

Scenic general store

A general store.

Scenic has been owned for years by former rodeo queen Twila Merril, who was originally asking three million for the town. After a story about the sale appeared in the Rapid City Journal, CNN, ABC News, Forbes and Time covered it.

Scenic bldg

I’m not sure what this building is, but I like the way it looks against the prairie. This shows just how remote the area is. After all, it’s located next to this:


The Badlands of South Dakota. A beautiful, desolate place. The best time to take photos is at sunset, but we had limited time, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t want to be there near dark. We saw only a handful of cars the whole time we were there, and it’s nothing but highway and rock formations. I’ve been a city person for so long, all the wide open spaces kind of spook me now. That doesn’t stop me from appreciating the beauty, though. . . .


badlands road

badlands fence



About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
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18 Responses to Scenic and the Badlands

  1. Ms. Spock says:

    Stunning formations, top-notch photography. Thanks!!

  2. Randy says:

    Very nice images, Carole! re: the spooky part … you can take the girl out of South Dakota … but you can’t take South Dakota out of the girl! Keep them coming!

    • Haha! Randy, I was seriouly weirded out when we landed in Rapid City. So. . .much. . .space. I thought there would be more around there after all these years. The low traffic was pretty nice, though. 🙂

  3. Caroline says:

    Stunning photos.
    Imagine, buying a whole town. That prison … There is a movie called Badlands, right?

  4. Susan says:

    Well Carole, those skulls’ horns would have to be a heck of a lot bigger and longer to qualify as longhorns ! Longhorn cattle are known to be pretty hardy stock, but don’t think they’d have survived a brutal Dakota winter. However, obviously THESE cows didn’t either ! ! ! (LOL)

  5. jacquelincangro says:

    $800,000 is about the price for a 2 bedroom apartment here in Brooklyn. Imagine getting a whole town for that price. What a deal! 🙂

  6. Lady Jennie says:

    Wooooooow! One day I’m going to take my kids there. I feel the same way – I’m a city person.

  7. Thank you for sharing these great photos. I just wanted to let you know that Rapid City has a great trip planning web site if anyone ever makes it out west. – In Rapid City you can have all the comforts of home and experience the majesty of Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park.

  8. flyinggma says:

    Love the old town. I told my husband about it and his suggestion was to buy our own farm around here and build our own town. I told him we wouldn’t have the Badlands for a backyard. That left him speechless.

  9. Tom says:

    cool posting to your blog Carole. Thanks!

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