South Dakota is true motorcycle country. Not just because it hosts Sturgis, the most famous motorcycle extravaganza in the world, but also because it is home to some of the most ruggedly awesome landscape in the nation. Its Badlands is a beautiful, yet lonely landscape filled with miles of rutted ravines and eroded rock pinnacles, and its Black Hills are so beautiful and mysterious, they were once considered sacred by the Native Americans who lived in the area. In addition, there are many historical and interesting sites in South Dakota, as well, including the city of Deadwood and Mount Rushmore. And then there is also, of course, Wall, the mega-tourist trap of tourist traps that seems to exist for no other reason than to trap tourists.
Riders who want to visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial -- and see the famous mountainside that has been sculpted into the heads of four famous presidents -- should head out on a ride known as the Central Hills Loop. This beautiful ride takes bikers through the scenic Custer State Park in the Black Hills and through the historic town of Keystone. Along the way, riders will encounter tons of twisties, elevation changes, and first-gear switchbacks. This loop also features spiraling pigtail-shaped bridges and tunnels cut through rocks. Because this is somewhat of a technical narrow route with tight curves, it may test the skills and nerves of novice riders. Traffic can be heavy in the summer and there will be plenty of motorcycles on the road during the months before, during and after Sturgis. One last warning, there may be herds of wild buffalo or donkeys on the roads of Custer State Park, so riders must be prepared for large animals that may suddenly stray in their path, as well as the erratic behavior of cars driven by gawking tourists.
Riders should pick up this route, which is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, in Keystone by taking Route 244 west towards Mount Rushmore. Riders continue on this road until they reach Highway 385, where they will make a left and then another left to get onto Highway 87 toward Custer State Park. After about five miles, riders will come to a Y in the road, where they will need to make another left to enter the park. After riding for another 15 miles, Highway 87, also known as Needles Highway, ends at Highway 16. Riders should turn left on Highway 16 and stay on this road until they reach Iron Mountain Road, where they will once again turn left. This road will then take them back to Keystone.
A ride through the Badlands National Park is another must for motorcyclists in South Dakota. People have often tried to describe the strange formations and the rugged landscape of this park, but there aren’t words that can do this place justice. Riders traveling from I-90 west can get off at Exit 131 and then follow the signs to the park’s Northeast Entrance, while bikers coming from the east can exit at Exit 110 at Wall and follow signs to the park’s Pinnacles Entrance. For a more scenic route, bikers take the same Exit 110, but will go south on SR-240 until it comes to a T intersection with Rt-377. Riders will then take a right on 377, which will pass through the town of Interior. This road, which turns into 44 at this point, will take riders through the Badlands National Park. The road has some nice sweepers and changes of elevation, but this road is definitely more about the scenery than about twisties.
Of course, South Dakota’s main draw for motorcycles is the huge Sturgis rally that is held each year in the town of the same name. It is estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 bikers attend this seven-day rally every year. For weeks leading up to and after this rally, the roads of South Dakota and neighboring states rumble with the sound of motorcycle engines as Sturgis participants head to and depart this mother of all rallies.
Disclaimer: All information is provided as a service to motorcycle riders, and the opinions expressed here are subjective. Although we have tried to research this information thoroughly, it is possible that changing circumstances can cause this information to become inaccurate. In addition, the conditions and roads described can change without notice for a number of reasons, including closings, weather conditions and maintenance. Motorcycle events such as rallies and rides may also be cancelled or dates changed without notice, as well. This site is not responsible for these types of circumstances, which are beyond our control, and riders relying on this information will be doing so at their own risk. This site is not liable for any actions a rider takes based on the information provided here. Please consult other sources before heading out on these roads and do not use the directions given here as a map, as again, circumstances may have affected their accuracy.