A.B.A.T.E. Ratings for Black Hills Motorcycle Routes

Did you know that American Bikers for Awareness, Training and Education (A.B.A.T.E.) of South Dakota has rated various routes in the Black Hills with regard to riders’ skill levels?

Yep. From North Playhouse Road (easy) to Iron Mountain Road (difficult),  A.B.A.T.E. has a skill level rating for each of the rides described in Ride the Black Hills.

Iron Mountain Road is without doubt one of the most technical rides you can undertake, with 314 curves, 14 switchbacks and three pigtail bridges. Throw in spectacular views of Mount Rushmore and you get a truly inspiring ride. Needles Highway has curves that are just as tight, and just as scenically rewarding. Scenery is one area in which the Black Hills are in great supply.

No matter where you ride in the Black Hills, stay safe. Ride within the posted limits. They’re there for your safety.



Weather warning for the Black Hills

snow accum
That’s snow accumulating along the side of the road in Spearfish Canyon — in May.

A half-inch of wet, slushy snow fell on Minneapolis last night. It followed a warm, almost-70s weekend. It reminded me of our trip to the Black Hills last May. More specifically, it reminded me of our hellish ride through Spearfish Canyon, in the snow. (You can read more about it in my book, Ride the Black Hills.)

The weather pattern was similar, with a freakishly warm week followed by a return to late winter/early spring. It was an excellent example how quickly weather in the Black Hills can change, not only as you move up or down in elevation, but from one minute to the next. And how the “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall can fool you with the promise of summer.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the Paha Sapa during those seasons. But you should be prepared with base layers, windproof outer layers and rain gear. It’s not unusual for a thunderstorm — or even a tornado — to spring up out of nowhere, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Summer mornings in the mountains can be chilly.

If you’re planning to ride the Black Hills this summer, be prepared for what Mother Nature can throw at you. Stay safe!



Ride the Badlands

The colors of the Badlands really pop in early spring.
The colors of the Badlands really pop in early spring.

A motorcycle ride through South Dakota’s Black Hills takes you through verdant pine forests and past cascading mountain streams. A motorcycle ride through the Badlands takes you to another world entirely.

The land is stunning in its starkness. The sun pours down out of a brilliant blue sky.  It lights up the rocky surfaces and highlights bands of pink and yellow and gray. And when you switch off the motorcycle’s engine, you’re greeted by complete silence.

There’s wildlife in the Badlands. Friends have shown me photos of bighorn sheep. But on the day my husband and I visited, not even a fly buzzed. We were completely alone in a strange, silent world where ancient fossils lay hidden in the rocky spires, gullies, and buttes. The blacktop pavement was our only connection to modern life.

The Lakota called this area “mako sica.”  French explorerers called it “les mauvais terres pour traverse“.  It translates to “bad lands” in both languages. It’s beautiful, and it’s lonely. It’s worth a visit.




Ride the Black Hills is now available!

Heading to Sturgis next summer for the Motorcycle Rally? Or do you just want to cruise the curves of the Black Hills? Let Ride the Black Hills be your guide.

This 85-page book was written for motorcyclists by a motorcyclist. Is crammed with travel information, including turn-by-turn descriptions of 13 motorcycle rides in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Route maps are included, as well as information about area attractions, restaurants, and advice about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

With twists, turns, and pigtail bridges, the Black Hills offer some of the most challenging motorcycle rides in the U.S. Order a copy of Ride the Black Hills today!