The Black Hills of South Dakota provide the perfect setting for the biggest biker rally on the planet for a few reasons. The geography of the the area pre-dates the Rocky Mountains and the hills are steeped in American history and folklore. And while spots like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Spearfish Canyon are well worth the visit, they are also well-trafficked, and it's pretty common knowledge when it comes to the rally, or any other visit to the Black Hills for that matter. But there are tons of other places to go and sites to see out here in the hills that you may or may not have heard of. While I'm not gonna turn loose of all the local secrets, I'll share a few nuggets of off the beaten path spots to visit. While we have an extensive trail system here in the hills and a thriving off-road scene, you won't need a dirt bike or adventure rig, and if you're not afraid of getting a little dirt on your tires you'll be rewarded by backwoods routes with stunning views of the Black Hills.

The tower is one of the best 360 views in the hills.

Friendship  Tower

North on 85 just outside Deadwood, turn at the Lodge Hotel and Casino but stay to your right. The winding paved road will turn to gravel and lead you to a spot called Friendship Tower. Throw your kickstand down and it's about a ½-mile hike up to see the monument that Seth Bullock built to commemorate his friendship with Teddy Roosevelt. The tower was completely refurbished a few years back and is perfectly safe to climb to the top and be treated to spectacular views of the hills surrounding Deadwood.

Terry Peak Summit Road

Just a ways southwest of Lead on 14, before you get to Cheyenne Crossing, there's a road called Terry Peak Summit Rd. Take a right and the gravel road starts winding its way up the to the third highest-peak east of the Rockies (and in the Black Hills). Don't get too distracted by the views, there are some unguarded drop-offs on the road that would be catastrophic if you ran off the gravel. At the top of the road you can park and climb the stair of the old fire tower above the ski slopes and see for miles and miles. If you look close you'll get a view of Bear Butte that not many are privy to.

The serenity of a gravel road and a creek is underrated.


If you pass through the town of Deadwood, go left on 85. The sweeping paved road will take you up and down a hill where you will see Wild Bill's Campground and that's your cue to turn left. It's a serene ride down a twisting gravel road next to a creek that deposits you at the sleepy old mining town of Galena that's said to be haunted. If you have an off-road capable bike you can hit the trail at the end which takes you over to Vanocker Canyon. If not, just enjoy the out-and-back ride.


This isn't a destination as much as a travel tip. 208 is a gravel road just southeast of Nemo, SD (Nemo is a hidden gem of its own) that is a nice cut-across to highway 385 from Nemo Road at the end of Vanocker Canyon. At the end of the road located on 385 is one of my favorite burger spots, the Sugar Shack. Swing in for a burger and a golden soda if you're in the area. The road itself has good off-road trail access in multiple spots along with two parking areas if you are trailering in off-road bikes, one located right across from the aforementioned Sugar Shack and one back up the road at Pilot Knob trailhead.

Put a little gravel in your travel.

Rochford / Moonshine Gulch

Turn just before the Sugar Shack on 385 for a long, winding gravel road that has a ton of off-road trail access as well as a bunch of spots to get on Mickelson Trail for some hiking or bicycling. This is one of my favorite spots to access trails on my trusty dirt bike, as well as get to Hill City via Mystic Road gravel. Follow Rochford gravel long enough and you'll land in the town of Rochford for a cold drink and burger at Moonshine Gulch. If you have had enough gravel, take the paved road out the opposite way out of Rochford for a nice stretch full of sweepers which will deposit you a few miles outside Lead, SD.

Always take the opportunity to dunk yer junk.

Hippy Hole

Not so much a dirt road to ride but just a fun spot to visit. Take 4o going east out of Keystone and the trailhead will be on your left a few miles down the road. A quick 1/2-mile hike next to a babbling brook, you'll probably greeted with some active gold miners along the way and eventually land you at a prime swimming hole. You probably won't be the only one there, plenty of like-minded folks know this swimming hole. Nevertheless, it's definitely a hoot, and as a good friend of mine once said, "You should always take the opportunity to dunk yer junk!"