“Majestic,” “striking,” and “otherworldly” are just some of the words used to describe the Black Hills of South Dakota. Rising abruptly from the plains, this mini mountain range of deep forests and mystical geologic formations is best seen from the seat of your bike as you cycle along lightly traveled roads and portions of the unforgettable Mickelson Trail, a 114-mile-long, gravel-surfaced rail-trail.
Beginning and ending our adventure in Rapid City, we’ll visit the historic towns of Lead, Hot Springs, and Keystone, gateway to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. We’ll also ride through Custer State Park, which encompasses 71,000 acres of stunning terrain peppered with mountain streams, waterfalls, high trestles, and tunnels.
From breathtaking scenic vistas to rock-solid national memorials and state parks, you’ll get to experience it all on this fantastic loop ride.
|Start Date:||Aug 30, 2014||End Date:||Sep 05, 2014|
|Start Location:||Rapid City, SD||End Location:||Rapid City, SD|
|Total Days:||7||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||39.0||Surface:||Paved/Dirt|
|Riders:||50||Elevation Alert:||High Point: 6300'|
|Airport:||Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP)||Tour Leader:||Tony Neaves|
|Caterer:||Riversong Gourmet (Paige)||Meals:||Catered meals|
|Accommodations:||Camping, Motel Options||Type:||Supported|
|Technical Difficulty:||Easy to moderate||Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate|
|Level of Support:||Fully Supported||Cost:||$1,159.00|
Rapid City. You'll meet up with your tour leaders and the rest of the group just outside of Rapid City. Here you and your fellow adventure cyclists will have an orientation session and map meeting, followed by a hearty dinner. Our on-tour mechanic can help you make any final adjustments to your bicycle, then it's time to crawl into the tent and get some shut-eye in preparation for the day ahead.
Rapid City to Deadwood, 46 miles. Not long after leaving Rapid City, we’ll merge onto the relatively quiet Nemo Road, following it for most of the day. Our lunch stop will be in the once-thriving Homestake Mine company town of Nemo. No one is certain how the town got its name, but there are at least three theories: it was named either after Captain Nemo of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea fame, after “omen” spelled backwards, or after an Indian word meaning “nowhere.” At day’s end, we’ll pitch our tents at the KOA in Deadwood, a lively casino-gaming town that is anything but dead.
Deadwood to Hill City, 51 miles. Before leaving Deadwood, you’ll want to swing in and have a look at the No. 10 Saloon, where Wild Bill Hickok met his maker after being shot while playing poker. Leaving town, we’ll pedal onto the splendid, traffic-free Mickelson Trail, a rail-trail that we’ll follow for the next 80-plus miles. Before reaching the day’s destination of Hill City, we’ll swing into another locally famous watering hole, the Moonshine Gulch Saloon in tiny Rochford, for a beer or sarsaparilla. South of historic Hill City, we’ll set up camp at the Crooked Creek Resort, situated just off the Mickelson Trail.
Hill City to Hot Springs, 58 miles. Before riding into Custer in the morning, we’ll pedal on the Mickelson Trail past the famed Crazy Horse Memorial, a sculpture that, when finished, will dwarf even Mount Rushmore. Begun in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor’s family has been continuing his work since he passed away in 1982. Once in Hot Springs, we’ll set up at the Kemo Sabay campground.
Hot Springs to Custer, 33 miles. After breakfast, we’ll pedal through Wind Cave National Park, which protects one of the largest and most complex caves in the world with 94 miles of known passageways snaking through Paha Sapa Limestone. Above ground in the fresh Dakota air, the park supports 28,000 acres of ponderosa pine forests and one of the best and largest examples of native mixed-grass prairie remaining. We’ll overnight at the Game Lodge campground in gigantic Custer State Park, home to bison herds and other wildlife.
Custer to Hill City, 35 miles. Returning to Hill City via a different set of roads, we'll have an opportunity to visit the world-famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial, as well as enjoy a host of other activities and attractions, such as the Black Hills Central Railroad. This historic steam locomotive, which once hauled gold out of the Black Hills, now carries tourists through them.
Hill City to Rapid City, 35 miles. All too soon, we're back in Rapid City, which we'll re-enter by way of the scenic Sheridan Lake Road. After this weeklong sampler of the bucolic Black Hills, however, we think you'll come back for another taste. In fact, we'd bet on it in Deadwood.
"I absolutely loved the trip. Ever since I heard about the Mickleson Trail I wanted to ride on it, and I got to see so much more! The campsites were perfect...I am anxious to take the next trip."
"Hard to pick one part that I enjoyed the most - I enjoyed every day and the route was nicely planned."
2013 Tour Participant
"I really enjoyed the small group dynamic. Everyone was so friendly, helpful and supportive. The mickelson trail was definitely the highlight of the cycling route."
2012 Tour Participant
"The caterer did a great job, and the mix of roads and gravel made for an interesting ride."
2007 Tour Participant