Route small

The big picture

The Dakota Adventure Loop (DakAL) is a giant figure-eight route through western South Dakota and reaching from the Nebraska border to the North Dakota border.  The route can be ridden in several different sections, or enjoy the entire adventure in a multi-day trip.  The views are best if the lower portion is ridden in a counter-clockwise direction and the upper loop ridden in a clockwise direction. 

The entire DakAL can be completed in four long days of hard riding with only short stops for food and gas. Experience shows that completion in four days is difficult for most riders.  Fatigue will rear its ugly head and many will then cut out interesting sections to conserve time and eneregy.

     Most riders will find five days a more acceptable pace. If you want lodging, a good 5-day breakdown is: Hills City to Edgemont (124 miles), Edgemont to Keystone (213 miles), Keystone to Belle Fourche (147 miles), Belle Fourche to Bufffalo (193 miles), Buffalo to Hill City (205 miles).

If you wish to spend time at any of the special sites along the way, then plan on a 6-7 day adventure.   

Riders should be of intermediate skill level or better.  The DakAL is not recommended for beginning or novice riders.  This is not just a gravel road ride!


Legal Stuff

Riding motorcycles can be dangerous!  Injury and even death is possible.  Equipment can be damaged or destroyed.  Risks can arise from many sources: weather, terrain, animals, snakes, water and much more. You assume totaly responsibilty and liability when your are riding.  The developers, owners, sponsors and other workers assume no liability for you, your associates or equipment.  Ride your own ride and take care to protect yourself. 


DakAL and Dakota Adventure Loop are trademarked names and marks.  The GPS tracks are copyrighted property.  The GPS tracks are made available for free use by individual riders.  Any commerial use of the names or tracks associated with the DakAL required written approval from the SD Trails Development Corporation. Fees may be charged.   


Gas, lodging, camping & food

Larger towns will offer several choices for needed services.  Camping is available in both public and private campgrounds.  Dispersed camping is allowed in both the Black Hills National Forest and the Custer National Forest.  No campfires are permited for dispersed camping. 

All bikes must be street legal will need a Black Hills Forest Service Travel Permit and a Custer State Park Pass. Your state park pass will also allow you to visit Bear Butte State Park near Sturgis.

It is suggested that you fuel at every opportunity.

Park your rig:

If you stay at least one night at the Rushmore Express in Keystone, you will generally be allowed to leave your tow vehicles in their remote parking lot. The Rushmore Express is used as the event headquarters for the Dakota 600 and has given us excellent service.

Minimal service locations:

Edgemont: One very basic motel (Cowboy Inn ), 2 cafes downtown, 2 gas stations.

Savoy:  Highly recommended Spearfish Canyon Lodge, , gas, great food and lodging.  Make sure you see both Roughlock Falls and Spearfish Falls.

Camp Crook: No lodging, two cafes.  No Gas Available!  As of May 1, 2016 the general store is closed and not expected to re-open.  Thus there are no supplies available in Camp Crook.

Buffalo: Tipperary Lodge Motel is only lodging availalbe ( ), one good cafe & bar, abundant gas.

Hoover: Low octane gas and air compressor, small general store with grub fixin's.  A National Historic location!

Newell: Newell Hotel is very basic and the only game in town ( 605) 456-2789 ), 3 cafes, abundant gas. 


Route details & tips - Tough stuff notice!

Tough Stuff:  Ride your own ride.  If you come to a section that looks to be too technical for your liking, study your maps and find a go-around.  Don't take risks!

There are four sections that are more technical than most of the ride:

Bear Mountain:  Rocky & potentially muddy hill- FS 299.1C and 299.1K, about 2 miles

Coal Canyon:  FS 3100 north of Edgemont, a few tight switchbacks, sand and rocks, about 2 miles.

South Cave Hills: Steep, narrow, rocky track, FS 31133, about .5 miles

FS 139.1: Located behind the National Cemetery at Strugis. Long rocky climb of about 6 miles. 


Route Breakdown:For ease of GPS point tracking and information, the DakAL is broken into four sections as explained below: 


Section 1- Hill City to Hot Springs - 233 miles

Gas, food and lodging: The only supply option for this entire section is Edgemont, SD.  Edgemont has two restaurants on Main Street, two gas stations slightly out of town on the main highway and one very basic motel. 

Special places:  Black Hills National Forest, Bear Mountain, Jewel Cave National Monument, Crazy Horse Memorial, Ft. Igloo, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, Cheyenne River crossing, Mammoth Site. 

Tip: When you ride the bridge over the Cheyenne River entering Edgemont, observe the water level.  Later in the day the route will take you through the river.  If the river is moving fast with a milky white or brown color, then the river crossing will generally be impassable.  DO NOT cross the river with rapid flowing water!    The river will be impassable about 30% of the time.      

When riding through the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, ride slowly and quietly and stay on the trail!  This portion is an easement through private land.  If you wish to stop and view or photgraph the horses you should purchase a pass from the Sanctuary headquarters (605-745-5955). 


Section 2- Hot Springs to Spearfish - 220 miles

Gas, Lodging & Food:  Hill City has many choices.  Trailshead Lodge has gas, food and cabins.  Spearfish Canyon Lodge, at Savoy, has high octane gas, good food and spectacular lodging.  The lodge is highly recommended.   DakAL route distance from Hill City to Spearfish Canyon Lodge is 105 miles.

Special places:  Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Rd, Mt Rushmore, Cement Ridge Lookout, Spearfish Canyon, Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Falls, Bridal Veil Falls

Lots of photo ops today. Keep your camera ready.

Tips:  Buffalo are dangerous.  Do not approach. Stay at least 50 yards away.  Don't get packed between cars when buffalo are crossing the road - make sure you have an escape route.  Buffalo can accelerate to 23 mph faster than you can!


Section 3 – Spearfish to Buffalo - 223 miles

Gas, Food, Lodging:  Lots of choices in Belle Fourche.  Camp Crook has two cafes.  Camp Crook Central Store has close as of May 2015 and no gas is available.  DakAL route distance between Belle Fourche and Buffalo is 205 miles.  You may need to carry extra gas.  No lodging in Camp Crook.  One motel  (Tipperary Lodge Motel), high octane gas,  and one cafe/bar available in Buffalo. There is a free public campsite in downtown Buffalo.

Special Places: Geographic center of the nation, Bakken Oil Fields, Custer National Forest.

Tips:  Lots of cool, dispersed camping locations in North or South Cave Hills.  One free, public campground in the North Cave Hills (Picnic Springs).

On the east side of the South Cave Hills, the route makes a loop.  Suggest you ride this loop clockwise.  There is one steep, single track down hill that can be a challenge.  It is only about 100 yards.  You may want to walk it  prior to riding this section.  If it looks spooky, turn around and ride back out.


Section 4 - Buffalo to Hill City - 205 miles

Gas, Food & Lodging: Gas and snacks are available at Hoover Store.  Newell has gas and food. Sturgis has many choices.  Nemo has food, gas and cabins.

Special places:  Slim Buttes Battle Field, Bear Butte State Park, Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground, Full Throttle Saloon, Sturgis Motorcyle Museum and Hall of Fame, Ft. Meade, Black Hills National Cemetery.   

Tip:  Blaster Bill's Bed and Breakfast is self-service trailer available to all riders.  Located south of Hoover next door to nowhere.  Just kidding... trailer is unusable!


GPS Tracks & Maps:


Two sets of GPS tracks are available for download from the links below. 


Set A:  Data points filtered not to exceed 2000 points per track.  This file will give you the most accuracy.


gpsDakAL 2k points per track.gpx


Set B:  Data points are filtered not to exceed 500 points per track.  This file will work with older GPS units that severely limit the amount of usable data.  Accuracy is compromised but the track will still work in an acceptable manner.


gpsDakAL 500 points per track.gpx


Reading the GPS tracks:

Primary routes: s1,s2,s3,etc designates the main route sections and are in magenta or blue.

Shortcuts: s3 sc1 would mean the first shortcut for section 3. Shortcuts are spread throughout the riding day to allow you to shorten or lengthen your riding day as you see fit. Shortcuts are in green.

Extras: s1 extra 1 would mean the first extra route for section 1. If time allows, ride these. Extra routes are in red.

In a few instances, the route doubles back on itself. If the track shows a route going both left and right at a turn, zoom out and the correct direction will become obvious.

If your GPS unit poops out you will be quickly lost without a map back-up.  CARRY YOUR MAPS WITH YOU!


Contact info:

Blaster Bill

SAICON – Special Advisor In Charge Of Nothing

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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