Radonnee for September 21, 2022 – Biking the Black Hills of South Dakota

View of the Black Hills in South Dakota

Do you like American history and enjoy visiting the many national parks the United States has to offer. Well, then you will surely love visiting South Dakota, especially if you are a bicyclist.

In addition to the riding that can be done in and around the Badlands National Park area, the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial offer excellent options for both road and bike path cyclists. Today’s post will be about the Black Hills.

Background About the Black Hills

If you are spending some time in South Dakota to do some cycling in the Badlands area, your next stop should be the Black Hills. It turns out they are relatively close to the Badlands.

The Black Hills are so named by the Lakota Indians. The name has to do with the region’s overly dark appearance when viewed from a distance, which is partially caused by an abundance of evergreen trees. They make up a part of the Black Hills National Forest.

In the Lakota language, the actual name of the Black Hills area is Pahá Sápa, which translates to “the heart of everything that is.” The Lakota consider the Black Hills to be a holy area.

Wildlife in the Black Hills

“Now somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota, there lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon…,” so goes the song by The Beatles. While you may not meet such a character while visiting the Black Hills, you will definitely encounter lots of wildlife.

When I was passing through on my visit to the area, I saw whitetail deer and bison and that was just from the road. But it’s possible you also might see “mule deer…, elk… pronghorn, prairie dogs, marmots, foxes, mountain goats, mountain lions, big horn sheep, and wild turkeys.”

Bison in the Black Hills
Whitetail Deer in the Black Hills

Road Cycling in the Black Hills

Options for cycling in and around the Black Hills area are surprisingly plentiful. If you’re strictly a road cyclist and the thought of riding on a bike path makes you laugh, then here are some good choices:

Coteau Des Prairie Tour – This ride is also called the “Hills of the Prairie” ride and is a loop that lasts 93.5 miles. It starts with a 1,200-foot climb.

Rapid City to Mount Rushmore National Memorial – 23 miles.

Spearfish Canyon National Scenic Byway – 19 miles.

Iron Mountain Road to Mount Rushmore – 17 miles and with good views of the monument itself.

Trail Cycling in the Black Hills

If biking on the road causes you lots of stress, but you still want to get out there and take in some South Dakota scenery, a bike path is always a safe and fun option. And it just so happens that the Black Hills region offers up some great trail riding on the Mickelson Trail.

Once a Gold Rush road 100 years ago, the Mickelson Trail was converted to a bike trail in 1998. It covers 109 miles and will take you through several small towns surrounding the Black Hills. During your ride, you will ride through four tunnels and cross over 100 bridges.

Photo courtesy of the Travel South Dakota website

Last Thoughts

South Dakota is a dynamic part of the United States with lots of things to do as far as tourism. If you’re a bicyclist and want to get in some good rides while also viewing some amazing scenery, you can’t go wrong with either the Badlands or the Black Hills.

Have you ever visited the Black Hills? Have you been to South Dakota? Better yet, have you done any cycling in either the Badlands or the Black Hills?

Please like, comment, and share this post. And let me know about your experiences.

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