Tag Archives: Nebraska

Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

National park, motorcycle, touring, Mount, Rushmore, Crazyhorse, monument

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.

national park, monument, motorcycle, map, ride

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.

national park, monument, motorcycle, ride, trip, travel, touring

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

1

561

561

Dalhart — Georgetown via Hwy 67

2

469

1030

Georgetown – Rock Springs, WY — Pinedale

3

429

1459

Pinedale — Gardiner, MT

4

229

1688

Gardiner — Yellowstone — Gardiner

5

174

1862

Gardiner — Kalispell

6

407

2269

Kalispell — Troy

7

306

2575

Troy — Golden

8

260

2835

Golden — Lethbridge

9

296

3131

Lethbridge — Billings

10

404

3535

Billings — Gillette

11

233

3768

Gillette — Rapid City via Hwy 385

12

199

3967

Rapid City — Alliance

13

215

4182

Alliance — Garden City

14

415

Garden City — Abilene

15

420

5017

Abilene — GTN

16

201

5218

 

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…

Mount Rushmore National Park Motorcycle Ride September 2008

Mount Rushmore National Park Motorcycle Ride -(Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma 2821 Miles)

I just got back from a motorcycle trip with 2 of my friends. Larry Cooper (my old Air Force buddy) from Alabama and Larry Talley (Larry Cooper’s friend from high school) from Georgia. I’ve known Larry Talley almost as long as I’ve known Larry Cooper because I met him when I first went to visit Larry Cooper in Alabama.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go on this trip because of all that had happened during the 2 previous weeks. Two weeks before the trip we were going down to take my parents to Victoria to see my sister Edna who had just had a mastectomy. Just before we left we got a call from Ginny (sister-in-law) telling us that my dad was in the hospital due to chest pains. We never made it to Victoria. My dad was released from the hospital on Monday and Wednesday we brought them back to Georgetown because hurricane Ike was supposed to hit the coast there. We also brought my Aunt Bips too. Later Janet’s Aunt Pat and Uncle Perry and their 3 great grand kids came to stay with us until it was safe to return. We also had my brother Gary and Wife Ginny, Ginny’s mother, Ginny’s mother’s neighbor, their daughter Mandy and her 2 kids and a couple that was friends of Mandy’s staying in a motel near by. When the storm passed I drove down to Victoria and picked up a generator for my parents since their power was out. I stayed there until Thursday taking care of various situations. I thought I was going to stay longer because my dad was scheduled for a heart cath on Friday. Since it was cancelled I was able to go on the trip. I spent nearly all day Friday getting ready for this trip.

This was the longest MC trip I have ever been on in terms of miles. Actually it was too many miles for such few days. In spite of it all it was still fun. I think we all decided that next time we travel this many miles we will be taking 2 weeks instead of just 8 days. Besides getting older and our bodies needing more time we need more time to see the sights. We saw the sights in more of a blur. There was much more that we could have seen if we had more time.

September 20 Saturday

Map

487 miles: Georgetown, TX to Amarillo, TX

Amarillo Texas, Motorcycle Ride

Motel 6 in Amarillo

It was a long ride for me and it ended up getting pretty warm before I got to Amarillo. T. Bone Pickens wasn’t kidding about Sweetwater, TX; there are hundreds of those windmills that generate electricity there. I’ve seen them in many places around the country but there were hundreds of them around Sweetwater. (See www.pickensplan.org)

I met the 2 Larry’s in Amarillo. Because of all that was going on with me the Larry’s left a day later and we rode the trip backwards so that I would be able to go. They left on the19th and rode to Ft. Smith, AR (I think) and rode the remained on the 20th. I arrived before they did and I got us a room at a Motel-6 on I-40. They arrived not long afterward. We had originally planned to meet at the Big Texan Steak Ranch on I-40 but since I arrived much sooner I decided to go ahead and find us a room. We didn’t eat at Big Texan Steak Ranch because they were so busy. They had some kind if entertainment going on that had a lot of people attending. We ended up eating a steak across the street from our motel. The steak wasn’t bad but I’ve had better.

September 21 Sunday

Map, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado

365 miles: Amarillo, TX to Colorado Springs, CO

We ate breakfast across the street where we ate the night before. Then we headed for Castle Rock, Colorado. In the past when I had driven that way I had traveled to Dumas, TX then took Hwy 87 to Raton, NM. This time we followed the route Gladys (My GPS’ name given to her by Janet & Kristy) mapped out for us. Gladys took us Hwy 1061 to Hwy 385. We then picked up Hwy 87 at Hartley. The wind picked up and blew pretty hard for most of this day’s trip. I think it blew the hardest traveling through New Mexico. We stopped to see Capulin Volcano.

New Mexico, motorcycle ride

Welcome center at Capulin Volcano

New Mexico, Motorcycle ride

View from atop Capulin Volcano

Approximately 60,000 years ago, the rain of cooling cinders formed Capulin Volcano, a nearly perfectly-shaped cinder cone, rising more than 1000 feet above the surrounding landscape. The ride to the top spirals around the volcano with quite a drop off on one side and a shear wall on the other. If height bothers you then … the view from the top was something to see. You could see for miles and other volcano were visible too.

From Capulin we rode over Raton pass and stopped in Trinidad for gas. We then rode through part of the town because Larry T. wanted to see what it looked like. From there we rode to Colorado Springs. We decided to spend the night there instead of riding on to Castle Rock. I knew Katie (my youngest daughter) was in Colorado taking a break from hurricane Ike. She was with out power in Kingwood and she didn’t have to be back to work until Wednesday so she took a quick hurrication (Katie’s word for this vacation) until Wednesday. I gave her a call to see where she was and guess what!!?? She was in Colorado Springs. It was late and we were all (Katie and her friends too) tired so we didn’t get together since they were about 12 miles away from where we were staying. Needless to say Katie and I were both surprised that we were that close. Janet told Katie she can run but she can’t hide from us…

September 22 Monday

map, Colorado, Wyoming, Colorado Springs, Central City,Cheyenne , motorcycle ride

251 miles: Colorado Springs to Cheyenne, WY via Blackhawk, Estes Park, and Loveland

We rode to Castle Rock, took Hwy 85 to Hwy 470 to I-70 to Hwy 72. Hwy 72 took us through the mountains to Blackhawk and Central City. Janet and I went there numerous times when we lived in Aurora (1978 – 1986). It was one of our favorite destinations… but what a difference 20+ years makes. It had completely changed… instead of being the quaint little old historic towns they were in the past they were now a casino Mecca.

Streets of the old Central City. 20 years ago it would have been full of people.

Court House Central City Colorado

Wyoming, motorcycle ride

Checking map…

The ride through the mountains to Estes Park was nice. The air was crisp and clean with the Aspens turning to bright yellow. Seeing the Aspens turn is one of the many things Janet and I miss about Colorado. I had forgotten much of that road but I did remember a few things. I had forgot coming into Estes Park from Hwy 72. You look down on Estes Park from atop the mountain. Estes Park is still a very pretty little tourist town. From Estes Park we rode through the Big Thompson Canyon. Big Thompson canyon was truly a pretty ride too with the road following the Big Thompson River through the canyon. Once we were back on I-25 it was a quick ride to Cheyenne. Just before we hit the Wyoming state line we suddenly hit a wall of cold air and the wind picked up too. The temperature drop felt like it was at least 20 degrees. Needless to say we were ready to find a room and get off the bikes for a while.

September 23 Tuesday

353 miles: Cheyenne to Spearfish, SD via Devils Tower

After a stop at Wal Mart for a few things and an attempted to stop at a motorcycle dealer (they were closed) we headed toward Devils Tower. The Larry’s had brought things for making sandwiches so we stopped at a picnic stop along the way for lunch. Most of that ride the scenery was mostly rolling plains but once we got near Devils Tower the scenery was hills covered with pine trees. This was the first time any of us had been to Devils Tower. We spent quite a while walking around the base of Devils Tower and taking pictures. It was an impressive sight.

Devils Tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. Once hidden, erosion has revealed Devils Tower. This 1347-acre park is covered with pine forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Deer, prairie dogs, and other wildlife are seen.

Also known as Bears Lodge, it is a sacred site for many American Indians.

From Devils Tower we rode to Spearfish, South Dakota and spent the night.

motorcycle ride Wyoming

Lunch on Hwy 85 in WY on our way to Devil’s Tower

wyoming, motorcycle ride, national park

Devil’s Tower

September 24 Wednesday

motorcycle ride

180 miles: Spearfish, SD to Chadron, NE via Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Sturgis, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mt.

We got an early start. The temperature was 39 degrees. Before I left on this trip an old high school friend (Butch Kay) told me about several places that we needed to ride while in the area. One was Spearfish Canyon. Like I said it was 39 degrees that morning but I know it was much colder in the canyon. I was wishing I had brought some warmer gloves. But in spite of the cold it was a great ride through the canyon.

Spearfish Canyon is one of the oldest and most miraculous canyons in the west. Located in the northern portion of the Black Hills National Forest, the canyon spans 20-miles along a scenic and unique State and National Scenic Byway. Less than a mile wide, the canyon is always ‘close and upward’ dwarfing the one-million annual visitors

After leaving the canyon we rode on to Deadwood (Where Wild Bill was shot) and on to Sturgis. Sturgis looked like any other small town. From there we back tracked through Deadwood, stopped at Pactola Reservoir for a short break and rode on to Mt. Rushmore. The Black Hills are really pretty and a great place to ride. We spent some time at Mt. Rushmore walking the trails and taking pictures. It’s been 30 years since I was there last and it had changed quite a bit. There was also a lot of people there which was a surprise to me since it was late September. I can’t imagine what it would have been like in July.

motorcycle ride, South Dakota

Pactola Reservoir

motorcycle ride, South Dakota

Spearfish Canyon

From Mt. Rushmore we rode on to Crazy Horse Memorial. I had been there 30 years ago. They have removed a lot of the mountain and Crazy Horse now has a head (face). They have been working on him for 60 years. Needless to say they have a long way to go and it will take another generation of the Ziolkowski family to finish the memorial.

motorcycle ride, South Dakota

Mt. Rushmore

motorcycle ride, South Dakota

Crazy Horse Memorial

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started Crazy Horse Memorial June 3, 1948. The Memorial’s  mission is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians.

We had planned to ride the Needles Hwy this day but since we all had a long way to go to get home (me 1100 miles and about 1400 miles for the Larry’s) we rode to Chadron, Nebraska and got a room.

September 25 Thursday

motorcycle ride, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas

466 miles: Chadron, NE to Garden City, KS

motorcycle ride, Nebraska

Nowhere in North Platte, NE

I rode with the Larry’s to North Platte, NE and from there we said our goodbyes. They headed to Anamosa, Iowa to see a motorcycle museum. Anamosa was the original place we were to meet but due to all that happened the 2 weeks before we left we rode the trip backwards. I thought about going with them to Anamosa but I decided to make an easy ride home for my self.

At one gas stop I met a couple from Pennsylvania who had been riding for 5 weeks riding to the northwest and California etc. They weren’t ready to go home but had jobs they had to get back to. We had a good visit and then we went our separate ways after they took my picture to add to their travel log.

I rode to Garden City to spend the night.

September 26 Friday

motorcycle ride

423 miles: Garden City, KS to Abilene, TX

I got an early start and headed to Abilene. The scenery in Nebraska and Kansas was pretty much the same. A lot of farm and ranch land… and a lot of very smelly feedlots. It seemed that every town had a feedlot. In its own way it was still pretty and I’m sure a different way of life. Miles and miles between towns.

September 27 Saturday

motorcycle ride

205 miles: Abilene to Georgetown (Home)

The morning I left Abilene the sky was filled with hot air balloons. It was quite a site. The balloons could be seen miles way from Abilene.

The ride home was easy for the most part. I have ridden this stretch several times. I saw many familiar sites and a few I somehow missed. I was ready to get home. It seemed as though I hadn’t seen Janet in a month. To my surprise when I got home Janet had cooked me a coconut cream pie (my favorite). It’s nice to be missed.

All in all I must say it was a good trip. For the most part we had really good weather and saw some really pretty country. The only thing I would change is taking more days to travel that distance.

If you liked this post you may like this of another ride here.