Following the pioneers of the Dakota Territories.

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by rokklym, May 20, 2012.

  1. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Most people consider the hours spent on the Interstate highway system across the great American plains to be terribly boring, and it sure can be, but once you get away from the boring slab and start following the paths of the early explorers and settlers, you can get a better appreciation for the area.

    I really enjoy taking photos of old building and windmills, so everytime I have driven across the plains, I have wanted to stop and take photos, but unfortunately that isn't possible while traveling the super slab. I have always wanted to take a trip on the back roads through the plains, so when I started reading about the Trans South Dakota trail, I knew it was something I had to do.

    Earlier this spring we tried to take a trip to Moab Utah and unfortunately a vehicle failure terminated that trip before we even made it out of Wisconsin. Every time we tried to change the date we were met with some sort of a problem so we eventually scrapped the idea for this year. I still really had the itch to travel and I also had a new bike that I wanted to put some miles on. Once I received the GPS tracks for the Trans SD trail, a plan was hatched to make a run on it.

    Collarbone and I got most of our gear packed up and left Wisconsin on a Friday night after work. We slabbed it on I-90 for 3 hours or so, fighting huge cross winds and eventually pulled into a hotel in Albert Lea Minnesota and called it a day. Saturday morning left us with another 175 mile or so of slab to reach Sioux Falls, then we hung a left and headed to Yankton South Dakota where we were going to pick up the route.

    After a quick stop for a headlight replacement, the some grub and gas we were off on the route! This route was called the Trans South Dakota trail, but almost all of the route we were going to ride today was in Nebraska, on the south side of the Missouri river.

    Here is an overview of the route:
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    The red sections are parts that we did that weren't part of the route we had. There were two times we had to deviate from the route to find fuel or lodging, and at the end of the route we kind of did our own thing to finish up the route.

    After crossing the Missouri river in Yankton, we hopped on the route and were immediately following the path of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We followed some very nice curvy roads that had great views of the river, then we got our first section of double track.

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    There were a few cool small communities and plenty of great views.

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    #1
  2. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    We were lucky that it had been quite dry out, because some of these "roads" would be pretty messy if it had been raining. This road was really fun but you had to stay on your toes because it pretty much was just a farm road and has some steep sections along with some nasty wash outs.

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    There were some pretty crazy sections that we went through and of course we didn't stop to take photos, but they were definitely interesting on a fully loaded 950. This section was rough double track with lots of ruts and steep climbs. Luckily we had our Scala Rider communications devices running and were able to warn each other of upcoming hazards.

    After that section we were hot and tired and it was getting late in the day, so we headed off the route to get gas, then after that we had to find a place to stay. There really sin't a whole lot out here to choose from so we headed up to Pickstown hoping to find food and lodging. We couldn't located a campsite so we grabbed a hotel room and headed next door for some grub. We ended up meeting two other ADV Riders that night. With all the highway riding and then the route, we ended up with just over 400 miles for the day.
    #2
  3. Av8rPaul

    Av8rPaul Have bike will travel

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    Subscribed! Great photos.
    #3
  4. peter13

    peter13 FJ cruiser

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    What a fantastic photo that first one is in the ghost town.
    Im in as well.
    #4
  5. MacNoob

    MacNoob piney fresh

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    I'm in! This is not far from here so I can see a visit in my future.
    #5
  6. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Fort Randall - Pickstown South Dakota

    The end of our first day found us at a hotel in Pickstown, right on the Missouri River where the Fort Randall Dam creates the huge Lake Francis Case. Fort Randall is an interesting area and the history also flows into what we do on motorcycles as well. Fort Randall was built in 1856 to maintain peace between the settlers and the native Sioux, but it was also used to protect the overland route to the Platte River.

    Our overland route is pretty mild compared to what they had to endure over 150 years ago, but we will get plenty of time to enjoy the vastness of this area. All told we will follow parts of the Lewis and Clark Trail, Platte River overland route, Old Indian trails and the Deadwood trail.

    Fort Randall Dam
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    After leaving the Fort Randall area, we entered the Rosebud Indian Rservation and got of some amazing gravel roads that had great views.

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    Collarbone:
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    We were amazed that some of these paths were considered public roads. Here in Wisconsin they would be private farm roads but out here they are on the maps and even have road signs.

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    Lots of areas with cattle grates and free ranging animals. This can be kinda scary on a bike since you don't know where they are going to run.
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    Windmill near Buffalo Butte
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    Collarbone trying to figure out where we are going to get fuel
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    Lots and lots of long gravel roads. These roads would have been a lot more fun if they were graded well. They felt like we were riding on marbles.
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    Here we are coming up to I-90 and fuel in Kennebec
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    #6
  7. rockinrog

    rockinrog Long timer

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    Very nice. I don't remember seeing that many hills when I crossed SD last year on 90.
    #7
  8. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Here is a photo I forgot to post earlier. We were cruising down this really nice remote road for quite a ways and all of a sudden we come across this sign.

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    We stopped, and looked at the GPS and the maps and everything listed this road, yet its posted as private. We were seriously hurting for gas at this point so we decided to risk it and went ahead. We ended up dropping into a cool little valley for a while and passed a ranch house. We never did see anyone out there so when we got to the next gas station, I asked a rancher about it and he said, well you didn't get shot so it must have been OK. After we got back home I emailed the originator of the route and he said he knows the land owner and its OK to go through, phew!

    So back to the route. We gassed up in Kennebec and then headed out on some really long and straight gravel roads. I was wondering why the route made such a big loop north of I-90 and I had hoped that there was something interesting up there. After quite a while we crossed highway 83 south of Pierre near the Bad River where Lewis and Clark met the Teton Sioux.

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    We came rolling into Midland and gassed up again then took off on some more interesting roads.
    After gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, there became a need to transport people and freight to the “Hills”. One of the shortest and easiest travel routes was overland from Fort Pierre, S.D., the nearest river landing, to Deadwood, the epicenter of gold mining.

    From 1874 to 1908, thousands of tons of freight and hundreds of people arrived in Fort Pierre by riverboat or railroad destined for Deadwood. From Fort Pierre the freight was loaded on wagons pulled by teams of draft animals, usually oxen. The people rode horses, in stagecoaches, in wagons, or walked. From Fort Pierre the wagon trains headed west along the 200 mile route known as the Fort Pierre to Deadwood Trail, which followed an old buffalo trail used by Indians and fur traders.
    http://www.fortpierre.com/norman-signs.aspx
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    #8
  9. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    After a while we ended up on Highway 34 for a while and decided to B-line it to Wall to get gas, food and a campsite. We had a long boring highway ride to Wall, but we did find some cool old buildings in the town of Cottonwood.

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    After our gas in Wall, we headed into the Badlands National Park right before sunset.
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    First Buffalo of the trip, certainly not the last!
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    We rolled into the Sage Creek campground and there were actually Buffalo roaming around the campsite!
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    Luckily the Buffalo's scattered as we set up camp and we were able to cook a meal and wash down the dust with a couple beverages.

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    #9
  10. RusherRacing

    RusherRacing n00b

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    Awesome report. Did you sneak into devils nest just west of Yankton? Looking forward to the rest.
    #10
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Great pictures Chad! And as you know, I really enjoy the bits of history along the way. :thumb
    #11
  12. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    We were pretty close to that area, but I don't think we went through the actual Devils Nest.
    #12
  13. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Morning at the Sage Creek campground - I was happy that my tent didn't get run over by a buffalo during the night and I woke up to a beautiful sunny sky.

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    There were plenty of Buffalo around though, these were just outside the campsite.

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    And another one hanging around

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    We headed out of camp on gravel roads that had some nice views.
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    Shortly after leaving we rolled into a town that I was anxious to visit, Scenic South Dakota.

    I know I posted this earlier but this is where it fits into the report:
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    This Saloon sign used to say "No Indians Allowed" but they recently changed it. I read that the town was sold recently, and it was actually bought by a church from the Philippines. :huh

    Scenic was founded in 1907 with the railroad coming through to the Black Hills It is unknown who exactly named the town of Scenic but it was thought the name came from its location in the “scenic” Badlands. In the early 1800's an Ogallalla Fur Trading Post was located on the South Fork of the Cheyenne River just a little northwest of Scenic. This was one of the earliest white settlement in the Black ills/Badlands area.

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    I'm guessing Scenic had a pretty wild past if they had to have jail cells right next to the bar! (Cell phone pic:lol3 )
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    Scenic Jail
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    #13
  14. SoDak

    SoDak Adventurer

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    If you guys are still in the Black Hills area PM me.
    #14
  15. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    We got back last Thursday :cry

    Reality sucks!
    #15
  16. Collarbone

    Collarbone Been here awhile

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    Unfortunetly we are back to work.
    #16
  17. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Understatement of the year! :cry
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  18. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Just outside of Scenic
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    So we had just visited the town of Scenic and we noticed that our GPS file went all over the place from there, so we decided to wing it from there on and do our own thing. One of my ADV buddies Judjonz has told me a lot of info on South Dakota in the past and one of the places he talked about was the Sheep Mountain Table. I saw this on the GPS so we went to check it out. Sheep Mountain Table was a cool little side trip to an area that looked like the surface of the moon.

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    After this side trip we headed south into the Badlands National Park again, then went West on remote gravel roads towards Buffalo Gap.

    Lots of free range cattle!
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    Old Homesteads were all over the place, long forgotten.
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    Antelope were pretty common as well.
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    Then we arrived in Buffalo Gap

    Buffalo Gap has always been a cattle town. It received its name for the nearby gap through which Beaver Creek flows and through which the buffalo moved into the Hills during the early days. History says the town once had 48 saloons and other parlors of entertainment to match. In nearby Calico Canyon is a natural bridge and the quarry which produced the celebrated calico sandstone of variegated and brilliant colors. Some of the original buildings still stand. Buffalo Gap today supports a population of about 150.
    http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/sd/buffalogap.html

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    #18
  19. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Some of Collarbones photos:

    Me at Sheep Mountain Table
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    I was using Firstgear riding equipment including the Kathmandu Jacket and HT Overpants, great gear! We didn't get a single drop of rain this entire trip, but dealt with a lot of high winds.
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    Scenic SD
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    Me in the jail cell - one of the nicer ones I've been in.

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    Collarbone
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    #19
  20. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    After leaving Buffalo Gap, we headed up the gap and into Wind Cave National park via the back way, the way you can get into the park without paying an entrance fee.
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    Then we ran into our first close encounter with Buffalo's on the road. This one was on a gravel road in Wind Cave NP. I have been stuck in herds of them in the car before, but being around them on a bike was strange, so I made sure I didn't waste much time getting by this big brute. Luckily when I passed him, he ran away from me!

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    After we crossed into Custer State Park (again coming in the free back way) we came across another herd of Buffalo. This group was bigger and the road was a little more clear but we still had one big brute way too close. I happened to shoot some video of what happened next:

    http://youtu.be/A6gJq8ratII?hd=1

    <iframe width="853" height="480" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/A6gJq8ratII" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Collarbone was behind me, and this buffalo was in full tilt boogie in an attempt to run down that DR650!
    #20