Author Topic: Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD  (Read 2884 times)

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Offline milestonerides

Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD
« on: July 04, 2017, 07:34:52 pm »
Has anybody toured from Denver, Colorado to Rapid City, South Dakota. It looks like a reasonable route at 400 miles total distance and takes you through the Mickelson Trail, which I have no idea what to expect (gravel/paved) from a quick Google Maps search. I'm planning to do this ride around August 20th week. Thanks in advance.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2017, 10:31:22 pm »
Sounds nice.  While I have not done that specific route, I have ridden in the area in August.  I would warn you to do some research on wind direction as late August can have some pretty strong winds and some times it changes 180 degrees from the day before.  Not sure, but it might be better to start in Rapid City and head south. 

Also, the route is not as populated of course as many parts of the country so not as many services so keep plenty of water and enough food to get to the next day,

The Mickelson Trail is probably 95% crushed limestone or similar.  It is nice and usually very rideable with 32+mm tires,  It may be paved in the actual larger towns but only for a mile or two.  I would suggest you strongly consider riding in the State & National Parks around Custer if you can.  Really nice country.  Hilly but beautiful.  Enjoy the ride!


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Re: Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2017, 02:28:30 pm »
and takes you through the Mickelson Trail, which I have no idea what to expect (gravel/paved) from a quick Google Maps search.
Try looking at the official trail site:

I rode nearly all of it 2 years ago. It's beautiful, but not a "warm and fuzzy" trail like the GAP. Aside from a total of a total of a few miles in Deadwood and Custer, it's not paved. Surface varies between dirt, gravel and even sand. Trail conditions can change due to weather activity. I had to lift my bike over a downed tree near Mystic and skateboard through some washed out areas caused by heavy spring rains. It's also not flat. There are some significant grades for a rail-trail in places. While getting water is not a problem thanks to the cisterns nicely spaced along the trail, outside of Deadwood (the northern terminus), Hill City, Custer and Edgemont (the southern terminus), food sources are very limited. There is a bar/restaurant somewhere off the trail in Rochford and another once in Prichard. IIRC, neither is open on Sunday.

With all that said, It's a fabulous ride. I got on the trail at Engelwood after riding Spearfish Canyon and rode to Hill City, where I camped at Crooked Creek, which is just south of the center of town and which you can access right from the trail. The next day I finished up in Edgemont, where there is a municipal campground (with showers) at the south end of town.

Due terrain, trail surface, cattle gates you have to open and close and the numerous bridges (which you should slow down for due to possibly uneven transitions), budget more time than you may otherwise think you need.

Offline milestonerides

Re: Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2017, 12:03:53 pm »
Thank you all for your response. I'm certainly encouraged to do this ride. As for the reason why I'm riding up to Rapid City is that I am trying to make it to the Adventure Cycling Black Hills tour. I am a tour leader and will be in between 2 tours so I thought this would be another opportunity to sneak in a smaller solo tour up to South Dakota. As for hills training, I should be okay since I'll be coming off a loop around the Colorado mountains.


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Re: Denver, CO > Rapid City, SD
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 11:05:12 am »
If you want the "scenic route" to Rapid City, get off the trail at the Englewood trail head and ride to Cheyenne Crossing then over to Savoy and down Spearfish Canyon to Spearfish, where there is a wonderful municipal campground. From there, take either I-90 or E. Colorado Blvd. to U.S. 85. That will take you through Deadwood then to U.S. 385 which will take you to Nemo Rd. Nemo is a great ride (and mostly down hill in that direction) and will take you right into Rapid City. To save time, you could skip Spearfish and simply stay on the trail to Deadwood and do the rest of the above to Rapid City.

If you want Mt. Rushmore, get off the trail south of Hill City and take SD 244. That takes you right there. Then from Keystone take SD 40 to S. Rockerville Rd. to U.S. 16. S. Rockerville was pretty and had little traffic.