Do you have one day to spare? Take a road trip.

My friend Ashis and I were bored one Saturday morning and decided to drive outside of town. Since we were both very adventurous, we thought of just taking a long day trip going from Brookings, South Dakota to Minnesota, then to Iowa, then back to Brookings. We immediately googled places we could stop by along the way — and we found three interesting locations.


Also: See my other travel adventures here.

With a sun-shiny summer day blessing us, we headed east for an hour drive to Pipestone National Monument, in Pipestone, Minnesota. It is an area that preserves the American Indians’ century-old pipestone quarries in a natural prairie setting.

It is a hidden paradise covered in lush greens.

Pipestone National Monument 1

Where a creek runs through it…

Pipestone National Monument 3

The trail to the falls is pretty. You see this old stone face.


And you reach the waterfalls, with an understated beauty of the rock formations.

Pipestone National Monument 4

Pipestone National Monument 5

There is a beautiful walking path that passes many of the quarries.

Pipestone National Monument 6

Looking through the little peephole at the Oracle was amazing.

Pipestone National Monument 7

The visitor center has everything explaining the history of Pipestone.

Pipestone National Monument 8

Note: Be sure you watch the 20-minute movie as you enter the visitor center. It will give you an understanding and appreciation for what you will see or have seen in the park.

After the Pipestone National Monument, we then head southeast to the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. It was approximately a 3-hour drive. Some call the grotto the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Others call it the “Miracle in Stone.”

When we saw the grotto, we were in awe! It was very beautiful!

Grotto of the Redemption 8

We wandered around…there was no admission fee, which was good.

It is made of rocks, gemstones, corals, etc. from all over the world.

Grotto of the Redemption 2

Photos do not do justice to this most incredible creation of a priest who kept a promise he made to the Blessed Virgin, that is to build a shrine as a thank you for his miraculous recovery from pneumonia.

Grotto of the Redemption 6

The priest began work in 1912 and continued until his passing in 1954.

Grotto of the Redemption 1

Each grotto was artfully and beautifully designed.

Grotto of the Redemption 4

Architecture is unusual and made from geologic remnants from all 50 states.

Grotto of the Redemption 7

From a distance it looks a little rough, like a pile of rocks. Go closer and it is truly unbelievable.

Grotto of the Redemption 10

Truly unique that you will not see anywhere else.

Grotto of the Redemption 9

The Grotto of the Redemption is located at 300 N Broadway Ave, West Bend, IA 50597. You will never regret visiting the place.

Grotto of the Redemption 11

After spending a great amount of time at the grotto, we decide to head further south and visit Pocahontas, Iowa. We were both curious to see the giant statue of Pocahontas, representing the famous Indian princess. After just 40 minutes of driving, we saw Pocahontas built along the road.

There she is, posed to welcome the weary traveler into town.

Pocanhontas statue 1

So close to the road that you can stand in the highway to take a picture.

Pocanhontas statue 2

We did not spend so much time in Pocahontas, Iowa. We thought of visiting another place before heading back to Brookings, but we changed our mind. It was getting dark and we still have a long way home.

Was the day trip worthwhile? Definitely. I will do it again, if I get the chance.

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Also: See my other travel adventures here.