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Giant Jackalope stands in the parking lot of the former Wall Motel, now a chainsaw-art emporium.
Giant Jackalope stands in the parking lot of the former Wall Motel, now a chainsaw-art emporium.

40-Foot-Tall Jackalope

Field review by the editors.

Wall, South Dakota

The Jackalope -- half jackrabbit, half-antelope -- appeared in the American West soon after the arrival of the first tourists. Gift shops sold postcards and trophy heads of the elusive creature. Some Jackalopes grew to an immense size before they were saddled and stuffed.

Humans shrink to bug size on the Jackalope balcony.
Humans shrink to bug size on the Jackalope balcony.

But no Jackalope is bigger than the 40-foot-tall mega-bunny in Wall.

Built in the autumn of 2022, the Wall Jackalope is the apex (thus far) of the South Dakota chainsaw-carving skills of Jarrett and Jordan Dahl. Previous creators of a 23-foot-tall Bigfoot in Keystone and a 30-foot-tall Smokey Bear in Hill City, the Dahls are usually too busy carving to talk to travel writers, but brother Jarrett put down his chainsaw to answer a few of our questions.

The giant Jackalope was built, Jarrett said, because the Dahls wanted to open a chainsaw-carving gallery in Wall. They needed something to draw visitors' attention to the property, and they wanted something that symbolized the town. Wall is known for Wall Drug, and Wall Drug is known for its outdoor saddled Jackalope photo-op, so... the Dahls built a giant Jackalope (We are thankful that they didn't choose to supersize Wall Drug's nightmarish original Singing Sam).

Big bunny fur is made of barked logs.
Big bunny fur is made of barked logs.

Unlike the Dahls' Bigfoot and Bear, the Jackalope is not just a sculpture, it's a building -- with an internal staircase and an outdoor balcony. It is kin to a lost race of giant roadside creatures, a short-lived Los Angeles novelty animal-architecture craze that produced giant dog-buildings, owl-buildings, and pig-buildings, and whose best examples were all bulldozed nearly 100 years ago. Jarrett, born in 1985, seemed unaware that he and his younger brother were reviving this classic roadside construction style. To them, a giant Jackalope building just seemed like a cool idea -- and it is.

Jackalope and wood spirits flank the indoor staircase.
Jackalope and wood spirits flank the indoor staircase.

Jarrett said that it took only 21 days to build the Jackalope, and credited much of its success to the carpentry skill of Abby Peterson, whose giant Sasquatch in Georgia inspired the Dahls to get into the business of Goliath-size art. 60,000 nails went into the Jackalope, and 3,000 different pieces of wood: ponderosa pine, oak, and cedar, which gives the interior a pleasant smell. No computers were used in its design. "We just sketched it up," Jarrett said. "There's no way to know exactly what you're doing, so you end up winging a lot of it." The word "Believe" is prominently carved into the front of the balcony, and is open to interpretation. Perhaps it means that one needs a lot of optimism to build a 40-foot-tall Jackalope.

The interior, entered through a door in the creature's belly, is filled with carved Jackalopes, painted murals of Badlands vistas (and more Jackalopes), twisted branch balustrades, and 71 "wood spirits" carved into the support beams and railings. "We hid a few of them pretty good," said Jarrett of the spirits. "We might give a prize to someone who can find all 71." After climbing the various stairs and landings to the outdoor balcony, visitors have a clear view of the Wall grain elevator and the community gym across the street.

Jarrett said that he and his brother plan to keep the Jackalope open nine months out of the year, but if business is good -- and there's no reason why it shouldn't be -- the Jackalope might be open year-round.

Outdoor chainsaw carvings often succumb to bugs, rot, and weather, so building a giant hollow wooden animal in South Dakota may seem foolish. Jarrett insisted that the Jackalope has been built strong, with creosote-treated footings to deter decay, a tough skeleton of logs and telephone poles, and "fur" of bark-seasoned wood. "We're pretty confident," he said, "that it's gonna last a very, very long time."

40-Foot-Tall Jackalope

Address:
518 Glenn St., Wall, SD
Directions:
I-90 exit 110. Drive north on Glenn St. for a half-mile. Jackalope on the right, just north of 6th Ave.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Wall Drug StoreWall Drug Store, Wall, SD - < 1 mi.
Yard Full of Animal SculpturesYard Full of Animal Sculptures, Wall, SD - < 1 mi.
Wall Drug DinosaurWall Drug Dinosaur, Wall, SD - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Statue #23: Benjamin Harrison, Rapid City, SD - 49 mi.

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