Tomahawk Trading Post, Lupton, Arizona.
Tomahawk Trading Post, Lupton, Arizona.

Big Teepees

Attractions shaped like Indian teepees (AKA tepees, tipis) can still be found along America's backroads and highways, although in greatly reduced numbers from their heyday a half-century ago. Today's sheer variety of fantasy theme dining and sleeping -- in fake space ships, caves, trees, medieval castles -- discourages the impolitic act of building new teepees for commerce.

That doesn't stop wigwam enthusiasts from preserving and restoring the remaining ones. Wigwam Village motels, with their giant gift shop teepee and surrounding semicircle of teepee rooms, can be found in Arizona, California, and Kentucky.

A lesser known lodging, the Tee Pee Motel, survives as eleven units on US 59, in Wharton County, Texas. Built in 1947, abandoned in the 1980s. The sign was repaired and the tee pees repainted in 1996 when the motel was used as a set in a remake of Lolita, but then it was abandoned again. When Byron Woods won $49 million in the Texas lottery, he bought the abandoned motel as a gift for his wife, and the Tee Pee Motel was restored and re-opened for business in 2005.

Twin Teepees, Seattle, Washington.
Twin Teepees, Seattle, Washington.

Teepee souvenir stores cling to life along the old US highways. Some are doing better than others. The TePee in Cherry Valley, New York, bypassed on Route 20 decades ago by faster highways, may hang on simply because it lies sort of midway between Secret Caverns and the Cardiff Giant (and the somewhat less interesting Baseball Hall of Fame). In nearby Howes Cave, a Native American museum flies in the face of conventional teepee wisdom, and appears in the lumpy shape of a local Indian lodge. Historically accurate? Yes. But we didn't stop to take a photo...

On an Indian reservation in Lupton, Arizona, the Tomahawk Indian Store rears up along a canyon wall, flaming yellow and promising an all-out massacre on your wallet. It's big, as teepees go, and apparently sanctioned by the tribe, so you can feel less guilty about shopping there.

In the northern part of Seattle, Washington, along a developed strip of highway, the Twin Teepees restaurant was a popular local landmark until it was torn down in July 2001.

Remnants of an "Indian Village" can be seen along US 24 outside Lawrence Kansas, including a 50-ft. concrete teepee.

In Medicine Hat, Alberta, a 20-story tall "World's Largest Teepee" is a stylized, skeletal framework of white poles ascending to create the familiar cone shape.

You can spend a night in an actual Sioux teepee at the Minnekahta Tipi Village at Allen Ranch in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Each teepee sleeps six.

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Giant Tee Pee

Tomahawk Indian Store

Address:
Grant Rd, Lupton, AZ
Directions:
Tee Pee Trading Post. West of Lupton on the Arizona side of the AZ-NM border. I-40 exit 359 (Grant Rd).
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Wigwam Village Motel #6

Address:
811 W. Hopi Drive, Holbrook, AZ
Directions:
On the south side of US Hwy 180 (old Route 66) between 7th and 8th Aves.
Hours:
Office opens 3 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
928-524-3048
Admission:
Free to look.
RA Rates:
The Best
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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Wigwam Village Motel #2

Address:
601 N. Dixie Hwy, Cave City, KY
Directions:
I-65 exit 53. Drive east about a half-mile, past the fast food places, to US Hwy 31 W. Take the first left and Wigwam Village is a mile or two on the left.
Hours:
Seasonal. Call before visiting off-season. (Call to verify)
Phone:
270-773-3381
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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Tee Pee Motel

Tee Pee Motel & RV Park

Address:
4098 E Business 59R, Wharton, TX
Directions:
Tee Pee Motel & RV Park. North of town on Hwy 183 (Old US 59). Take Hwy 59 South from Houston. Look for the first Wharton exit, Business 59. Motel is about a 1/2 mile on the left.
Phone:
979-282-8474
Admission:
Nightly rates.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

World's Largest Tee Pee

Address:
Allen Roe Rd SE, Medicine Hat, AB, Canada
Directions:
Visible west from the Trans Canadian Highway, north of Medicine Hat, exit south on S Ridge Dr., turn right on Gehring Rd, then right on Eagle Birth Rd.
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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