Author Topic: Getting Across South Dakota  (Read 6673 times)

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Offline bbarrettx

Getting Across South Dakota
« on: February 19, 2017, 08:04:30 pm »
I'm mapping out a XC tour for this summer staying to the north. Using AC routes most of the way but I'm going to avoid ND because of the traffic situation. Based on preliminary research on traffic counts it looks like I'll be riding route 212 most of the way across the state. My other options appear to be 34 or a combination of 34 and 14. I'll be riding east and coming out of WY into the Belle Fourche area, likely around mid June. If anyone has insights on these roads that would be awesome. Thanks!

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 02:59:36 am »
That suggests to me - a Wyoming boy - that you will be riding across the West from mid-May to mid-June.
You know we are having a kicker of a winter this year, right?
Since you mentioned ACA routes - I am almost certain Going to the Sun Road in Glacier will not be open yet.
Also, roads may be late opening in Yellowstone, too - - 200% of normal snow depth - - and normal is a lot.
Most services in Yellowstone do not open until after Memorial Day and may after mid-June.

Just sayin' - ya know?

Here is the SD DOT Traffic Count Map:
http://sddot.com/transportation/highways/traffic/docs/TrafficFlowMap.pdf
I've biked US 12, US 14, SD 34, and SD 44.

Do you want to dip into the Black Hills a bit from Spearfish? Spearfish Canyon is really sweet.

None of the roads in SD are terrible - traffic is generally light and there are pretty good shoulders on primary routes.
That said, US 14 has the most traffic and US 12 near Aberdeen is pretty darn busy.
But there are plenty of lightly-traveled highways to choose from.
There is a great combo of SD 34 and county roads from Pierre to Huron.
And the eastern counties do have some very empty, paved county roads.
And SD 44 is a straight shot south of I-90 that lets you visit Badlands N.P.

West of the Missouri, anything other than the county seat is often almost a ghost town.
I've biked on the rez in SD and I am a white boy - but things are definitely not good.
US 212 traverses the Cheyenne River Res., one of the poorest reservations in the U.S.
There is no excuse for Wounded Knee and much else - but a solo non-native cyclist assumes some risk.
I have seen horrible, fatal wrecks on the rez. I have seen wasted people driving.
I have always been treated well on the rez - but it is tough.

Hope that helps.

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2017, 03:14:43 am »
PS - I was looking at your other posts. The Sawtooths will be cold. And snowed in.
I've biked across Idaho a number of times via the Sawtooths.
Here is one route from Ontario, OR to Teton Pass.

https://ridewithgps.com/users/132644/routes

The stretch on ID 55 is narrow and busy - esp. on weekends.
The little burg of Howe - which used to have cafes and a camping area - burned down a few years back.
From Howe, you can swing thru Dubois and Island Park if you want to head straight to Yellowstone. But.

Here is the WY DOT bike map of Wyoming -
http://www.dot.state.wy.us/files/live/sites/wydot/files/shared/Public%20Affairs/Maps/BikeMap_2013.pdf

The Northern Route from Yellowstone thru Cody and Buffalo to Devils Tower is quite nice.
(Except that I would take Nowood Road directly from Manderson to Tensleep.)
Wildflowers in the Bighorns will probably peak in late June rather than mid June this year.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2017, 08:54:45 am »
What's the traffic situation in ND? A friend of mine recently rode the L&C route and didn't find bad traffic conditions. Also, due to the drop in oil prices, the oil-related traffic has decreased somewhat.

Also, got to agree about Going to the Sun based on snow totals so far. I was planning to be in the park around June 24th but will likely scrap it absent a major, early thaw. The Marias Pass alternative (U.S. 2 from W. Glacier) simply doesn't compare.

Offline ggwbikemt

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 07:50:14 am »
As for the Lewis and Clark route across Western North Dakota, if the person rode the current route which uses a mix of I-94 and nearby frontage roads, he probably did not encounter widespread heavy traffic. Even at the height of the Bakken, the heavy traffic was confined to between US 85 and Dickinson along the I-94 corridor and it is still that way. Traffic on the frontage road in that area is largely dependent on whether or not any drilling is taking place there at a given time whereas the through traffic uses I-94.
There are 2 areas of major construction that I know of planned for I 94 this year in western ND. One is MP 11 to 24 west of Medora, traffic will be head to head on the westbound lanes which means no paved shoulder east bound. The frontage road will bypass all but the eastern most mile of this construction. The other is MP 35 to 42 for Fryburg to US 85 both directions. All but the westernmost mile can be bypassed using the frontage road. At this time, I cannot predict what the drilling activity will be in the Dickinson area this summer. Drilling lately has been primarily confined to the Williston, Watford City, and Stanley areas. As for other east-west roads in Western ND, ND 1804 Williston to New Town thanks to rumble strips is too narrow to safely bike. ND 23 now has a continuous wide paved shoulder from Watford City to US 83 although traffic is still heavy from Watford City to ND 8 east of New Town.  ND 200 now has a wide paved shoulder from the Sidney, MT to US 85 and where it is co-located with US 85. Between US 85 and Kildeer, ND 200 is under going major reconstruction at this time so I do not know what the road is like.  The old road had no shoulder between US 85 and Beulah and decent shoulder paving from Beulah to US 83.   US 2 has at least 3 areas of major reconstruction planned for Western ND this summer. US 2 now has a decent paved shoulder eastbound from Bainville, MT to Minot with the exception of a one mile stretch just west of US 52 and some poorly laid rumble strips in the Berthold area. US 2 westbound still lacks a paved shoulder from Ray going east for 15 miles but a 5 foot paved shoulder is scheduled to added there this summer as part of a reconstruction product. The other major US 2 projects involve reconstructing the east/north bound lanes where it is co-located with US 85 north of Williston (no paved shoulder north/east bound during construction) and the ND 1804 and US 2 intersection on the west side of Williston.     

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2017, 09:49:58 am »
As for the Lewis and Clark route across Western North Dakota, if the person rode the current route which uses a mix of I-94 and nearby frontage roads, he probably did not encounter widespread heavy traffic.

Yes. That's what he rode. I saw reports from another couple who rode it last year. No problemos. Made me wonder if the OP is looking at an old set of maps.

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2017, 10:25:05 am »
But why ride on I-94 and service roads when there are so many lovely, empty roads in the Great Plains?

Offline ggwbikemt

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2017, 04:04:27 pm »
In Western North Dakota, the most of the paved roads and even some of the gravel roads between US 2 and I-94 are not empty. Prior to the Bakken boom, the Lewis and Clark Route was on ND 1804 for the most part in North Dakota.  The Northern Tier route used ND 1804 from Williston to New Town and ND 23 from New Town to US 83. The Bakken boom made bicycle travel too hazardous on the majority of the 2 lane roads in Western ND and Adventure Cycling rerouted both the Northern Tier and L&C route to I-94 and nearby frontage roads because it was the lesser of the evils. Yes, the roads south of I-94 in Western ND are mostly empty but you have to go north to Bismarck or south to US 12 in South Dakota to cross the Missouri River.

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2017, 04:33:58 pm »
Agreed - there's not much quiet riding left in western ND - so why do it?
Anyhoo, the title of the thread is "Getting across South Dakota".

Between SD and Neb (and Marmarth) there are thousands of empty miles in the western Plains.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2017, 02:49:44 pm »
Thanks for all your insights. Jamawani, I think it's your suggested route across WY that we plan to take which will get us to Devil's Tower area. I live in CO so I'm dialed in to the snow situation. We'll be doing the Transam across OR and will miss out on McKenzie pass but otherwise should be fine. We will cut off the Transam to cross the Sawtooths and down into Sun Valley. This will be very early June and I can't imagine that those passes will be closed as they aren't that high. From Sun Valley we will head to Jackson and then up through Yellowstone. Again, I'm anticipating the roads will be clear of snow at that point.

I hadn't considered the Indian Reservation issue. I've ridden across the Wind River Res a few times. Is this one potentially more of a concern?

Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2017, 05:21:13 pm »
I've done the Sawtooths a couple of times -
They make a nice west-to-east route across Idaho - although Stanley can be COLD even in July.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=tS&page_id=421648&v=1c

I cut off the TransAm at Austin Jct. - staying on US 26 - with some killer downhills and tailwinds.
You can follow the Payette River all the way from Ontario to Banner Summit.
Great hot springs along the road between Garden Valley and Lowman.
(Services are extremely limited - the store/cafe at Lowman is closed, but there are a few lodges.)

I've gone thru Challis and Salmon on my trips - not Sun Valley - all beautiful.
Once you get out into the Snake River Plains it can get hot, esp. around Craters of the Moon.
I prefer ID 22/33 to Driggs over US 20/26 to Alpine.  Teton Pass is tough,
but there's almost as much climbing along Palisades Res. with narrow winding road.

Grand Teton is spectacular with a great bike trail. Jenny Lake has hiker/bikers camp sites.
They are making it harder and harder for for cyclists at Yellowstone's South Entrance.
I find that climbing up the plateau is easiest late in the day.
Traffic is lighter, you are shaded from the western sun, and hiker/biker sites are at Lewis Lake.
(I hope you are doing the big loop from West Thumb to O.F. to Norris to Canyon to Lake.)

The ride from Pahaska Tepee to Wapiti is truly spectacular along the Shoshone River
Be aware that there is no tent camping from Bridge Bay in YNP for the next 40+ miles east.
And you should hit the peak of wildflower season in the Bighorns.

<<<>>>

Oh, yes - South Dakota.
Have you considered heading down to Spearfish and up Spearfish Canyon - super-duper!
Then you can hit touristy Deadwood and Nemo Rd into Rapid City.
Then SD 44 takes you to Badlands NP - which is really nice in early summer - brutal later.
If you are willing to do a little hardpack dirt - Sage Creek Rd from Scenic lets you ride the entire park.
(Or less dirt - 20 mi east on SD 44 to Conata Rd, 9 mi dirt)

Then a combination of US 14, SD 34, and maybe the back route I mentioned above?

And as for the Cheyenne River Res. - conditions are deplorable - and there's no excuse.
The two counties are roughly 80% Native Am and 20% white and many ways like apartheid South Africa.
Many communities lack water and sewer - substance abuse is epidemic. And horrible wrecks.
(Many it's random - but I've seen too many on my tours thru Indian country.)
The people I have met on reservations have been wonderful - but as a non-native, it's not easy.

Best - J

Pic - Badlands in June
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 05:22:50 pm by jamawani »

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2017, 10:25:02 am »
Spearfish, SD has the nicest municipal park campground on the planet, and the ride up the canyon and thence to Cheyenne Junction is lovely, as is Nemo Rd.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2017, 03:27:47 pm »
Thanks again for all the detailed info. Sold on the SD suggestions re Spearfish to Cheyenne Junction to Nemo to Badlands. Let me know about that dirt road that crosses the park to 240. I abandoned my road bike for 25 years to ride dirt but I'll be back on a road bike. If it's reasonable hard pack that I can cover with skinny tires then game on.

Jamawani, I hadn't really considered 26 in OR as a route to Stanley but it looks like a reasonable option. Was just going to follow Transam through Hells Canyon and then 95n/55s. If you're familiar with both routes from a touring perspective and are suggesting 26 over the other then that's the way we'll go. Sounds like 55 has a ton off traffic and bad shoulders. Any other insights regarding those two options?


Offline jamawani

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2017, 04:43:34 pm »
BBX -

I would hate to ride westbound on US 26 from Ontario to Austin Jct. - but eastbound is super.
Some killer downhills and, usually, a tailwind. It'll take 20 years off your face.
In 2015 I didn't get the prevailing tailwind, but the time before I was coasting in my big ring.
It really is one of the finest rides in eastern Oregon. And there is almost zero traffic until Vale.

There's a lodge at Austin Jct., store & cafe at Unity, nothing at Ironside, store long closed at Brogan but park with water, store at Willowcreek.
There's also a lovely back road along the bluffs from Vale to Ontario - much nicer than busy US 26.

(The TransAm section is fine - longer by 50+ miles - but Hwy 55 riding should be the minimum.)

About ID 55 - it has few shoulders and pretty heavy traffic.
As with all roads, it has different traffic levels depending on month, day, hour.
Much of the traffic is recreational - and not much commuter.

http://apps.itd.idaho.gov/apps/roadwaydata/counters/184/index.html
http://apps.itd.idaho.gov/apps/roadwaydata//184SouthBanks/2016/16-06jun/T184_SouthBanks_Jun16_MonthlyAverageHourlyTrafficReport.pdf

June - 8000; July 10,000 - - Neither is good.
Weekends have almost twice as much traffic as early weekdays.
Friday afternoon/eve and Sunday afternoons are the worst.
7:00a traffic is low every day (200 per hr) 7:00p traffic is low M, T, W (300 per hr)

This is why you get some people on websites saying - "That road was no problem."
While others say, "It was a death trap."

<<<>>>

About Sage Creek Rd - How skinny will your tires be? Touring width? 32s or larger? I didn't have any problem with 1 3/8s. (35)
Of course, if there's a big storm, that's different. But the road is probably best 12 hours after a rain. Solid, not too much dust.
The scenery is muted - maybe one or two cars an hour - so you are not in trouble if something goes wrong.
And it allows you to ride the entire main road thru the park. Evening and early morning are best light.



Offline bbarrettx

Re: Getting Across South Dakota
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2017, 05:05:30 pm »
We'll be running 32's. We'll give Sage Creek and 26 in OR a go. Thanks for your input. Great info.