City Escape: Rapid City, South Dakota

Text: James T. Parks • Photography: James T. Parks

The Black Hills of South Dakota are one of the most impressive and interesting riding venues in the U.S. Dramatic scenery, iconic national sites, a plethora of roadside attractions, and beguiling byways are big draws. The best time to go is early or late summer.

Length

Approximately 227 miles

Meet-up Spot

Starbucks, 1705 W Main St, Rapid City, SD, (605) 341-0459

Lunch Stop

Sage Creek Grille, 611 Mt Rushmore Rd, Custer, SD, (605) 673-2424, serves an assortment of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Scenery (5 out of 5) 

The Black Hills are actually a small, isolated mountain range thrusting up from the Great Plains. The craggy but richly floral terrain is a feast for the eyes.

Traffic (2 out of 5) 

Traffic can be heavy in the vicinity of Mt. Rushmore and other tourist attractions, especially during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held the second week in August.

Difficulty (4 out of 5) 

In some areas the route challenges riders with narrow roadways and tight curves.

Road Conditions (5 out of 5) 

The pavement generally is in good to excellent condition.

Points of Interest

  1. Deadwood, SD. This historic Wild West town has been restored to its former glory. The town’s Mount Moriah Cemetery is the final resting place of western legends Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. www.cityofdeadwood.com
  2. Spearfish Canyon. Over the eons, Spearfish Creek has carved a dramatic high-walled canyon, home to an enticing selection of plants and wildlife and cascading waterfalls. Highway 14A provides a serpentine thrill ride as it snakes through the lush landscape. www.visitspearfish.com
  3. Jewel Cave National Monument. With over 180 miles of surveyed passages, Jewel Cave is touted as the third longest in the world. A year-round temperature of 49 degrees makes it a nice place to cool down on a hot summer day. www.nps.gov/jeca
  4. Custer State Park. Tallgrass rolling prairie, with some 1,500 roaming bison, shows visitors how this area appeared in the 19th century. gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer
  5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Fourteen years of 
blasting and grinding produced the iconic busts of four of America’s greatest presidents. About three million visitors come here each year. www.mtrushmorenationalmemorial.com