Today we are going to revisit some of our favorite places in the Black Hills...Mount Rushmore, Keystone, and the Norbeck Scenic Byway. The morning weather was perfect for sleeping and being lazy but we managed to leave the house at 8:49.
There are two ways to get to where we are going. I-90 or US385. Interstates suck so we are riding US385. It'll be a popular throughfare for us on this vacation.
Lead, SD. 8:56, mileage 58,560 - We fueled up at an Exxon station that we'll visit a lot. The area around Lead is marked with signs of past mining. Building foundations, excavations...things like that pique my interest.
It's about 50 miles to Mount Rushmore. US385 is a nice, scenic, lazy road. A high spot is riding across the Pactola Dam. The water is inviting.
Good news on the radio front. The guys say this radio setup sounds better than ever.
We took a couple loops around the busy parking garage. John found us a spot.
The avenue of flags.
Mount Rushmore. It's something every American should see.
We spent some time in the gift shop and some outside vendor stands. Debby brought her National Park stamp book and she got her stamps. I forgot mine at home.
Our next stop was back in Keystone at the Alpine slide. We noticed the helicopter ride next door was gone. There were helicopters out and about so maybe it just moved.
If you go to Keystone I highly recommend this ride. You go up via a chair lift and race down the mountain on the Alpine slide. You can see the track snaking down the hill. It's a blast! They don't have track nazis like the one in Gatlinburg and you can enjoy the hills and curves at whatever speed you're brave enough to do.
There's a restaurant on top of the mountain that cooks the food to order on a grille. It's good. I had a hamburger and chips. It was peaceful up there.
There were a couple ground squirrels running around and this little cutie got a chip. After lunch we walked around a bit. There are pretty views from up here. The girls checked out the flowers. This little girl (10 or so) asked us if we wanted her to take a group picture of us. That was nice of her. She had a camera that probably cost in excess of a $1000 and was taking pictures of everything.
When it was time to go we staged at the slide. Here is the crew ready to go. I videoed the ride down but somehow lost the footage transferring it to my laptop. Windows 7...grrrrrrrrr.
Now it was time for some of the most enjoyable motorcycle riding in the USA. The Iron Mountain Road begins about halfway between Keystone and Mount Rushmore. It has pigtail loop bridges, tunnels, tight turns, switchbacks...all in the beauty of the Black Hills. Keep an eye out for wildlife, too.
Almost from the beginning we got behind a Suburban poking along. Showing good road manners he pulled over at a pulloff. Two thumbs up! Later we got behind a small SUV pulling a U-haul trailer. What?? They too pulled over.
Near the south end of Iron Mountain Road we came across a herd of bison, so we stopped for pictures. The animals are free roaming. Here today, somewhere else tomorrow.
In 2009 there were a bunch of begging burros at a pulloff. This year only one lonely mule was manning its post.
At the end of Iron Mountain Road we turned west onto US16A. You immediately have to stop and pay a $10 park fee, but it's good for 30 days I think. Although a federal highway, US16A is another nice road to ride. It leads to another link in the Norbeck Byway chain...The Needles Highway.
Sylvan Lake is a nice stop on the Needles Highway. It's claim to fame is some of the scenes from the second 'National Treasure' movie were filmed here. We visited the visitor center for drinks and sat outside taking in some nice vacation time. We walked to the end of the lake where Mike and John balanced their way across some logs out onto the dam.
There were a lot of off-road bikes out and about. The road system here is different than Indiana. There are interstates, federal highways, and a few state highways. These roads are paved. All the 'county' roads are gravel. There are lots of gravel roads here that lend themselves to offroad bikes.
The Needles Highway terminates at US16 west of Hill City. We cruised through Hill City. We'll ride the train later in the vacation. Outside Hill City we headed back north on US385.
We made a stop at the Pactola reservoir. It was near closing time and John assisted the ranger with lowering the flag. We lounged around outside taking in the lake views. It makes me wish I had a fishing pole. Dark clouds were prevalent on the ride back. No rain though. The temperature snuck into the low 80s. The girls were able to ride almost all day without jackets.
Lead, SD. 16:48, mileage 58,708 - Fuel, pop, and snacks at the Exxon station.
From here it was back to the cabin where Mike cooked biscuits and gravy for supper. It was good! We sat on the deck looking at the cruddy hottub. Mike and John found a water hose and drained then refilled it. Much cleaner.
Ashton is several days past her due date so tomorrow she undergoes an induction. John & Debby will be going to Rapid City to hopefully get a new grandbaby. Number 8 I believe. The rest of us will do something...but we'll decide that tomorrow.
Monty and Stephanie began their trip today. Monty had some late runs (sigh...ambulance work) so they started later than expected. They are staying in Davenport, IA.
Click here for our next day's adventure.