Engage your pedal mettle on one of these beautiful rides in South Dakota
Slow your pace, hop on your bike, and take in some of these beloved South Dakota bike routes. We've captured some favorites and included information on distance, time, camping options, and more. Enjoy the ride!
Coteau Des Prairies Tour
Translating to “Hills of the Prairie,” this cycling tour takes you through 94 miles of northeastern South Dakota beauty. The tour loops through several state parks and lake recreation areas, allowing riders the chance to enjoy lakeside peace and wildlife at Roy Lake and Pickerel Lake, take in some history at Fort Sisseton, and learn about the pleasant surroundings and eerie legends belonging to Sica Hollow State Park.
LENGTH: 94 miles
TIME TO RIDE: 1-3 days
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly paved roads with minimal traffic. The Sica Hollow area has some gravel roads, but a 20-mile paved detour is an option.
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Eden, Lake City
Old Evarts Tour
Old Evarts was once a bustling hub of activity for cowboys and ranchers. Today you can ride its namesake bike tour, which runs through Mobridge in north-central South Dakota. The route takes you along flat to hilly terrain. The route along Highway 1804 may be the toughest, but it’s also the most rewarding, thanks to the view of the Missouri River and its bluffs. You can extend your ride by taking the West Pollock spur north to the West Pollock Recreation Area, where you can camp and take in more pretty river views.
LENGTH: 27.5 miles (main loop), West Pollock spur is 24 miles off-route
DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Paved rural roads with little to no shoulder. Minimal traffic, with highest traffic on Highway 12/20.
TRAFFIC: Low to moderate
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Mobridge, Glenham (main route), Pollock (West Pollock spur)
Burning Bluffs Tour
Catch it at the right time and you can see a geological oddity known as the “Burning Bluffs.” When the iron sulfide of the Carlile Shale that lines the banks of the Missouri River reacts with oxygen and water, it releases heat and creates smoke, making it appear that bluffs are on fire.
LENGTH: 130 miles
TIME TO RIDE: 3+ days
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to challenging in the Missouri River watershed area
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Paved and rural roads
TRAFFIC: Light to moderate traffic
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Bonesteel, Burke, Geddes, Lake Andes, Pickstown and Platte
CAMPING: A variety of camping options are available at Burke Lake, North Point, Randall Creek, and Snake Creek recreation areas (on-route) and Buryanek, North Wheeler, Pease Creek, and Platte Creek recreation areas and Whetstone Bay Lakeside Use Area (off-route).
Aberdeen Lakes Tour
This glacial lake tour takes you around Mina and Richmond lakes. Mountain bikes are best for trails on the north side of Richmond Lake Recreation area, but they’re not required for the 4.75-mile ride from the south side of the lake to the north side, where a 4.3-mile trail and wildlife-watching area await. Stick closer to the campground with the quarter-mile Quaking Aspen Trail, which loops the campground’s east end. At Mina Lake, enjoy the three-quarter-mile Shake Maza trail. The tour also has two easy loops around both recreation areas.
LENGTH: 22.75 miles; 7 miles (Mina loop), 4.75 miles (Richmond loop)
TIME TO RIDE: That’s up to you!
DIFFICULTY: Mostly easy, but moderate on gravel section due to road surface
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly paved rural roads with no shoulder and minimal traffic. Watch for agricultural traffic on the gravel section.
TRAFFIC: Minimal to moderate. Watch for agricultural traffic (see also: cows) on the gravel section
Big Stone Lake Tour
Enjoy quiet, scenic paved roads along this rural route near the northeastern tip of South Dakota. This triangle route will take you along Big Stone Lake – keep an eye out for Big Stone Island – and to or from Hartford Beach State Park.
LENGTH: 31 miles
DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Flat to rolling terrain
TRAFFIC: Light to moderate. The busiest part will be the 1.75-mile section west of Big Stone City.
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Big Stone City (on-route), Ortonville, MN, and Milbank (off-route)
CAMPING: Modern facilities are available at Hartford Beach State Park.
Pelican Lake earned its name, as it provides a home to plenty of regional waterfowl. The 16-mile route takes you on a tour of Pelican Lake as well as Goose Lake (you can guess how it got its name) and the 5,000-acre Lake Kampeska. Enjoy the migrating birds and vast number of prairie grasses and wildflowers that surround Pelican Lake.
LENGTH: 15.75 miles
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly flat with some easy rolling hills. The route is primarily on paved, rural roads, but there are three short sections of gravel that total 3.25 miles.
Mortimer’s Loop Tour
This route on the southern edge of the Glacial Lakes (NW) region is quiet and relaxing. Enjoy an easy ride between two well-visited lake areas – Oakwood Lakes and Lake Poinsett. Bonus: You can rent canoes at Oakwood Lakes and get out on the water!
LENGTH: 39 miles
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Flat, rural roads with some rolling hills and moderate climbs along 495th Avenue and 197th Street.
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Bruce, Estelline and Arlington
Franklin Township Tour
The route circles the Franklin Township, bur riders are more interested in ride as a tour of area lakes. Lake Herman State Park has wooded hiking trails, water recreation, and a 9-hole disc golf course, while Walkers Point is on Lake Madison, a 2,800-acre lake that’s popular for both fishing and water recreation.
LENGTH: 28.5 miles
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Primarily flat with some gently rolling hills
TRAFFIC: Moderate, with most traffic occurring along Highway 19, a main route that connects Madison to Interstate 90
TOWNS: Madison is off-route but not far away.
Three Waters Tour
Located west of South Dakota’s biggest city (Sioux Falls), this route will take you through some of the state’s most beautiful and unique state parks. The Sioux quartzite formations that line Split Rock Creek at Palisades State Park are a sight to behold, while Big Sioux Recreation Area and Beaver Creek Nature Area both have hiking trails and plenty of charm.
LENGTH: 25 miles
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly flat
TRAFFIC: Medium to high. The tour is mostly paved county highways and roads with narrow or no shoulder. Use caution on Highway north of Palisades and on 486th Avenue.
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Brandon. Off-route, you’ll find Garretson, Sioux Falls and Valley Springs
CAMPING: Big Sioux Recreation Area and Palisades State Park both have modern camping facilities, including tent camping, RV sites and camping cabins. Split Rock Park Campground has RV and tent camping sites.
Dakota Prairie Tour
From the rolling prairie near Spirit Mound to the hills at Newton Hills State Park on the southern edge of the Coteau des Prairie, you’ll enjoy a variety of landscapes on this ride in southeastern South Dakota. Enjoy Newton Hills State Park, Union Grove State Park, and Spirit Mound Historic Prairie, where you can ascend Spirit Mound and take in the same view that the Lewis & Clark expedition experienced centuries ago. Fat-tire cyclists will especially enjoy the miles of trails that wind through thick woods at both Union Grove and Newton Hills.
LENGTH: 98.8 miles
DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate, with rolling prairie east of the I-29 corridor and flat to gently rolling hills west of I-29 corridor
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Primarily rural, paved roads with no little or no shoulder
TRAFFIC: Low to moderate. Expect higher traffic as you loop around Spirit Mound. Highway 19 will have the most traffic but also has a moderate shoulder.
TOWNS ON ROUTE: Beresford and Westerville. Off-route, you can find Canton (north of Newton Hills) and Vermillion (near Spirit Mound).
Pine Island Gravel Odyssey
Formerly known as the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, this annual June event offers riders the chance to grind gravel in Black Hills National Forest. Start in Spearfish City Park to take in natural beauty best experienced from a bike seat. Expect to see beautiful wildflowers and butterflies along your journey. The 45-mile option allows for e-biking.
LENGTH: 45, 70, 100 or 210 miles
TIME TO RIDE: 1 day or less
DIFFICULTY: Challenging. Previous gravel race experience is strongly encouraged.
ROAD CHARACTERISTICS: Mostly gravel with some pavement