One truly inspirational ride, which is a part of the “newbies” Black Hills initiation, isn’t a long ride, but it is a great way to start the morning from Rapid City before stopping off in Sturgis.
We begin our day by eating a great breakfast in Rapid City. One option is Minervas, where a local favorite is the breakfast sandwich with ham, egg and cheese. Once you've have eaten your fill, take off, passing Canyon Lake and heading west out of town on Highway 44. Wind up through Rimrock Canyon, then make a right turn at Johnson Siding to Norris Peak Road (173), one of the three rides rated most difficult in the area. Riders definitely need to pay attention on this road and watch their speed on its hairpin turns, but this narrow road it is definitely worth the ride.
When you reach the end of Norris Peak, turn northwest up Nemo Road (234) for an extension to this beautiful ride, past Steamboat Rock, sweeping around corners, through Nemo and on to Vanocker Canyon. Nemo is a quiet little town that attracts a multitude of bikers to stop along their way to wherever they may be heading. This is a great spot to stop, relax and grab your jacket before hitting Vanocker, which can often be cool.
Vanocker Canyon (26) is the last leg of this ride to Sturgis. Vanocker, a lesser known road to out of area riders, is truly beautiful and the scenery is full of vast and open vistas. It is one of the best fall rides, with an abundance of leafy trees which turn bright gold. The look of the canyon’s birch and aspen trees is to be revered, with their white bark and leaves flitting in the wind. They look so amazing in the sunlight and Vanocker is full of them. The bottom of Vanocker is thrilling with a steep grade and aggressive turns, exhilarating riders. The canyon then opens up with a view of Sturgis in the distance. Belle Joli Winery - Sparkling House is right here. Plan to enjoy some local wine as well as delicious food on the patio while you relax overlooking the vineyard and visitas of a beautiful Black Hills day.
There are, as so many motorcyclists have experienced, a wealth of amazing rides in the Black Hills and Badlands. If you ride, make sure to visit this area and experience them for yourself. If you don’t, they’re almost as good in a car.
Difficulty scale: 5-1, with 5 being the most difficult
Hwy 44 W (3), Norris Peak/FS Rd 173 (5), Nemo Road/Cty Rd 26 (4), Vanocker Canyon/FS Rd 26 (4)