Top South Dakota Motorcycle Roads and Routes

Forests, rolling prairies, pristine lakes, and geological wonders make the beautiful state of South Dakota a popular destination for motorcyclists seeking scenic roadways. Although there are sights to see in almost every corner of the state, certain areas are especially renowned for their stunning natural wonders. To the east of the Missouri River, riders enjoy low hills, glacial lakes, and rolling farmland. To the west of the river are the natural wonders that are the Black Hills (home to Mount Rushmore) and the Badlands National Park, which boasts some of the most awe-inspiring rock formations in the nation.

Below, we’ve compiled several top-rated motorcycle roads and routes sure to inspire your sense of adventure and your love of nature.

Central Hills Loop

This 57-mile route traverses the historic town of Keystone, Custer State Park, and the national monument Mount Rushmore. The roads are paved and well-maintained for spring or summer riding. Better suited to experienced riders, the course offers a thrill every minute with winding roads, bridges, switch backs, and tunnels. Along the way, stop in Keystone to browse its specialty shops, or indulge in some fishing and hiking at Custer State Park.

  • Start on Highway 244 West toward Mount Rushmore
  • Turn left (South) onto Highway 385
  • Take another left onto Highway 87 (also called Needles Highway) toward Custer State Park
  • After 5 miles, turn left onto Junction 89 and enter the park
  • Follow 87 until it ends at Highway 16
  • Go east on 16 and turn left on Iron Mountain Road
  • Follow Iron Mountain Road back to Keystone

West Highway 44

This picturesque ride offers thrill-seekers an abundance of twists, turns, and hills. Stop off at the scenic layovers for breathtaking views of the Black Hills, and then refuel at the Rimrock Happy Tavern. Points of interest along the way include wildlife settings, fresh streams and glistening lakes, and natural caves. During the annual Sturgis Rally, this route is quite crowded with other bikers.

  • West Highway 44 starts on the west side of Rapid City, coming off of Jackson Blvd
  • Take Highway 44 West for about 16 miles until the end of Hwy 44
  • You’ll arrive at Hwy 385, which goes to Deadwood (North) or Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park (South)

Highway 16A to Custer State Park

With well-maintained roads, plenty of twists and turns, and up-close views of Custer’s natural wonders, this highly acclaimed ride is a biker’s paradise. Depending on how much time you have, consider camping along the way to experience the full effect.

  • Start in Keystone, South Dakota and take Highway 16A Southeast
  • Enter Custer State Park and merge onto State Route 87
  • Take Highway 87 either North or South—or both

Short Badlands Ride

Experience the geological wonders that make up Badlands National Park on this adventurous ride. You’ll see deep canyons and gorges, craggy spires, and rolling deserts. Sharp turns and steep inclines make this route suitable for more experienced riders. Stop off at the Badlands National Park Visitor’s Center to learn about the park’s history and geology. Thirteen scenic overlooks are available along Route 240, as are dozens of short trails for quick hiking excursions.

  • Start in Wall, South Dakota, off of Interstate 90
  • Go South on State Route 240
  • Take a right (Southwest) on Route 377
  • The road turns into Route 44
  • Follow Route 44 West, then Northwest, through Scenic and Farmingdale and into Rapid City

Badlands to Mount Rushmore

This awe-inspiring ride traverses Southwest South Dakota, originating in the Badlands and traveling into the lush forests of the Black Hills. Enjoy the wholly unique natural wonders of the Badlands’ 244,000 acres of deep gorges and soaring spikes, then head through the Black Hills to the stirring national monument Mount Rushmore. With modest turns and inclines, this route is suitable for intermediate to advanced bikers. Rapid City provides ample dining and shopping amenities along the way.

  • Start in Cactus Flats, South Dakota (take exit 131 off Interstate 90)
  • Follow 240 South towards the town of Interior
  • Take Route 44 West to the town of Scenic; follow 44 into Rapid City
  • Take Route 79 South toward Hermosa
  • Get on Route 40 West and continue on to Mount Rushmore
Tags: Motorcycling

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