It’s time to get your motor running and head out on the highway! Warm weather is here and with it comes longer days so you can extend your ride from a little jaunt to a tour de Black Hills. There are many routes winding through the hills and prairies of western South Dakota, each showcasing a special aspect of South Dakota’s beauty. As you plan your weekend’s trip or gear up for the Sturgis Rally, keep these rides in mind for your next road adventure.
Central Hills Loop – Start your adventure in the old gold town of Keystone. This quaint community is buzzing during the summer! Before hitting the road, be sure to stop by the taffy shop for a quick sugar fix and a taste of the sweet life at the foot of Mount Rushmore. This route begins and ends in Keystone, SD. Begin by taking Hwy. 244 west toward Mount Rushmore, also called the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Stop by or wave hello to four of our nation’s leaders, as you will pass Mount Rushmore right off the bat. It will be on your right and it’s impossible to miss. Shortly after you pass the monument you get a second chance to view Mount Rushmore, but this time, it’s a profile shot of George Washington. There is a parking area off to the side of the road if you wish to spend a little time admiring the view. Continuing on, after about 10 miles, this road ends at Highway 385, where you will turn left, heading south for a few hundred yards and then make another left onto Hwy. 87 which will lead you to Custer State Park. Follow highway 87 about 5 miles where you will come to a "Y" in the road (Jct. 89). Turn left here to continue following Hwy. 87 and to enter the park. This scenic ride will take you past Sylvan Lake; you may even see a buffalo or burro as you tour the park. Highway 87 (also called Needles Highway) is the hallmark of Custer State Park, the granite cathedral spires shoot out of the mountain landscape. Enjoy the views for about 15 miles, where Hwy. 87 meets with Hwy. 16. Turn left, heading east, and follow Hwy. 16 for about 8 miles to another scenic byway where you will turn left on to Iron Mountain Road (Hwy. 16 North). Enjoy a view of Mount Rushmore through the single lane tunnel as you make your way back to Keystone. Iron Mountain Road again, meets up with Highway 16, where you will turn right, leading you back to Keystone.
Highway 34 from Minnesota to Sturgis – If you are visiting the Black Hills from the East, forgo the busy I-90 route in exchange for rolling hills and less traffic. Highway 34 showcases the best of the South Dakota prairie, with waves of amber wheat, green pastures and many towns to stop in on your way through. You’ll even get a chance to visit our state’s capitol before you cross over the Missouri River.
Vanocker Canyon byway of Nemo Road – If you are coming to Sturgis by way of Rapid City, forget I-90 and opt for a more scenic route that will drop you into the heart of Sturgis. Highway 44 crosses through Rapid City; in this case you will take Omaha Street, which will turn into West Chicago for about 5 miles. West Chicago again changes names, to South Canyon Road. This road will take you out of town directly into the heart of the hills towards the tiny town of Nemo. Enjoy winding roads, lush scenery and the smell of ponderosa pine. When you arrive at Nemo, veer to the right, onto Highway 26, Vanocker Canyon. Enjoy the rock out croppings and views as you make your way to Sturgis.
There are many roads and scenic byways to enjoy in the Black Hills and Badlands! Ask any one of Tom’s T’s employees which route is their favorite; we’d love to point you in the right direction for a ride you’ll not soon forget.