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Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

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Day 14 ride map

Today is day  14 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list.

Everyday, except one or two, we have been up at 5:30 getting the bikes and us ready to ride. We are usually on the road around sevenish. This has been an amazing ride, not only because of all the wonderful scenic country and great people we have met all along the way, but also because we have felt good both physically and mentally. We are not getting any younger and this is always on the back of our minds. All of this makes for some enjoyable riding…

Five years ago we rode up this way for the first time. It is good to be back and to be able to ride some of the places we didn’t have time to ride on that last ride.

The front desk clerk at the motel gave us some good information and a map about riding today. Due to some confusion on my part we rode the route backwards from what he suggested. I may have just misunderstood his directions. It ended up being a good mistake. We rode the loop counter-clockwise instead clockwise. I think this is the best route (counter-clockwise)  because when you ride Iron Mountain Road, Mount Rushmore is framed in the tunnels. A picture perfect view of Mount Rushmore. If we had ridden in the clockwise direction Mount Rushmore would have been behind us when riding through the tunnels. I was also given some misinformation by a friend, who said Needles Highway was the road where you could view Mount Rushmore through the tunnels. Needles Highway does have 3 tunnels just like Iron Mountain but there are no views of Mount Rushmore. That caused us some confusion since we rode Needles Highway first. Larry asked a park ranger to help us. He got us straightened out about Iron Mountain and showed us how to get there. We got some good pictures riding Iron Mountain to prove it.

If you would like to ride the loop we rode, these are the directions.

  1. From Rapid City take US-16 south to US-16A
  2. Left on US-16A to SD-244
  3. SD-244 follow the signs to Mt. Rushmore
  4. From Mt. Rushmore continue on SD-244 west to US-385
  5. Left on US-385 for 0.2 of a mile to SD-87 (Needles Highway with 3 tunnels)
  6. Follow SD-87 for about 16 miles to Highway 753 (Playhouse Road)
  7. Follow Hwy 753  for about 4 miles to US-16A (Iron Mountain Road with 3 tunnels)
  8. Left on US-16A for a little over 9 miles to SD-244 (Take the pullouts and take pictures of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels)
  9. When you reach SD-244 you have completed the 41 mile loop.

Below is a map of the ride around the loop.

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41 Mile loop with views of Mt. Rushmore

If you like narrow twisty roads you will like the Needles Highway. It is a must ride if you are in the area. The best part of the loop was riding Iron Mountain Road with views of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnels. Because of the speed limits and stopping to take pictures it takes about 1 hour and a half to 2 hours to ride. It is well worth the time.

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View of Mt. Rushmore from highway

After finishing the loop we doubled back on part of the loop to stop at the Crazy Horse Monument. I was interested to see how much progress they had made carving Crazy Horse into the mountain over the last 5 years.

The Needle rock formation the Needles Hwy is named for...

The Needle rock formation the Needles Hwy is named for…

Mount Rushmore viewed tunnel on Iron Mountain Hwy

Mount Rushmore viewed tunnel on Iron Mountain Hwy

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. The project continues to this day. 63 years and they have a lot more to do before they finish. Korczak died October 20, 1982. The work continues today under the guidance of his wife Ruth and their children, together with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation board of directors. It was and is a monumental undertaking.  The most amazing part of the project has been accomplished without any public funds.This is a must stop if you are in the area.

Crazy Horse Monument a 63 year work in progress

Crazy Horse Monument a 63 year work in progress

It was lunch time when we got to Crazy Horse.  We had lunch here at the Laughing Water Restaurant  on the Crazy Horse Monument campus. I had Buffalo Stew the last time I was here and since it was so good I had Buffalo Stew again. They have other Native American specialities you may want to try. The dinning room has a large picture window with  a good view of the Crazy Horse carving. The waiter staff was good and as pleasant as last time. They take the time to answer any questions you may have about the campus.

Heading South to Nebraska

Heading South to Nebraska

After a good meal at the Laughing Water Restaurant we headed south to Alliance, Nebraska, our destination for the day. We thought this was going to be just another leisurely ride. When we reached Alliance it was still early so we decided to ride another 37 miles to Bridgeport for the night. We stopped at the first motel to get a room but they were full. We asked where we might get a room in Bridgeport and was told all the motels were full. I asked why… The son (who plays football for the University of Nebraska) of one of the wealthy families in Bridgeport was getting married and anyone who was someone was there for the wedding… Hence no rooms… They said the nearest town on our route that would probably have a room was 80 miles away… No big deal except… we were also told there was a big storm headed this way… We did notice dark clouds as we rode into town. We jumped on the bikes and rode like the wind to try to beat the storm. Forty mile down the road we came to Oshkosh, Nebraska. What luck there was 2 motels and we were able to get a room for the night. Not a chain motel and nothing fancy but a room to get us out of the weather… which never came… We have been so lucky with the weather…

For more pictures of our ride click here and don’t forget to like “The Texas Rambler” Facebook page. Look for the “Subscribe to Texas Rambler via Email” at the bottom left column to receive notifications of new posts by email. Also please take some time to leave us a comment. We always love hearing from y’all…

Tomorrow we will be heading home… Larry back to Georgia and me back to Texas. I can’t believe this ride is almost over… but it will be nice to finally get back home to Janet…

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument

Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Little Bighorn and Mt Rushmore 41 Years Ago

Route Map 41 Years Ago

Route Map 41 Years Ago

Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Little Bighorn and Mt Rushmore 41 Years Ago

I had just finished my 4 year enlistment in the USAF and was to return to my former civilian job with Geophysical Service Incorporate. But before doing so I took a little break before returning to the real world of civilian life. That was 41 years ago, this August. I drove my AMC Gremlin to Montana to visit Avis my pen-pal for the last 4 years. Along the way I visited Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier, Little Bighorn and Mt. Rushmore.

I have many fond memories of the places I visited and my pen-pal Avis and her family. The scenery and summer climate is beyond description. With low temperatures in the 50’s and highs in the 80’s and smell of pine trees in the forest, you are transported to a heavenly place. I loved Montana. I have always wanted to get back up that way but life has gotten in the way. We had planned to ride there in 2011 but again life got in the way and we cancelled our plans.

Well… the trip is back on for this July and as the time draws near we are getting excited about hitting the road. Plans are finalized, reservations have been made and we are sitting on go.

I know many of you have ridden or driven that part of the country… There is much to see and do… So if you have any suggestions about any part of our trip, please share them here. We would love to hear about your favorite things there.

Below is my route map and itinerary.

Planned Ride Map

Planned Ride Map

From/To Day Total Miles For Day Running Total Mileage
Georgetown – Dalhart




Dalhart — Georgetown via Hwy 67




Georgetown – Rock Springs, WY — Pinedale




Pinedale — Gardiner, MT




Gardiner — Yellowstone — Gardiner




Gardiner — Kalispell




Kalispell — Troy




Troy — Golden




Golden — Lethbridge




Lethbridge — Billings




Billings — Gillette




Gillette — Rapid City via Hwy 385




Rapid City — Alliance




Alliance — Garden City



Garden City — Abilene




Abilene — GTN





Because of the length of this trip I am planning on doing something I have never done before… Post logs of the trip on the road. Space is always an issue when packing for a long trip. To conserve space I have a new Netbook. Wish me luck and stay tuned for on the road post…

One more thing… I lost contact with Avis many… many… years ago. When I see something about Montana I am drawn back to that trip long ago. When planning this trip, memories of that first trip flooded my mind. I again wondered what had become of Avis. I hoped that life has treated her well. This prompted me to see if I could find her using the internet. After searching and hitting many dead ends I did eventually find an address. We have reconnected and we plan on stopping by to see Avis, Ed her husband and her mom. We have a lot to catch up on. We both have good families with lots of history and many stories to share. Seeing this beautiful part of the country again is the cake but seeing Avis and her family after all these years will be the icing.

Ride safe…