Steven Mufson in Wall, South Dakota (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

After a long journey from Dickinson, N.D., we arrived late in the evening to our next beds: in log cabins in Wall, S.D. They weren’t on a frontier, though. A large acrylic bison guarded the entrance to the motel and a bear stood watch along the fence. The cabins were just off Interstate Highway 90, and they were lined up in a row along, about 30 of them. And no, it wasn’t roughing it. Our accommodations at the Frontier Cabins Motel came equipped with the same modern conveniences as any hotel. If you prefer, you could also rent a teepee. And there was a hot tub, too. Most important, perhaps, were the coin-operated laundry machines.

We had dinner at downtown Wall’s Badlands Bar, which was still busy at 10 p.m. unlike most towns we’d passed through. We were striking distance from the state’s famous tourist attractions such as Mount Rushmore, the Badlands National Park and Flinstones Bed Rock City, all of which, alas, like the Keystone XL pipeline, we bypassed.