There may be no more fit­ting place in the world for Sacred Rides to launch its first grav­el tour, than the Black Hills of South Dako­ta. A small and iso­lat­ed moun­tain range, the Black Hills rise from the Great Plains of North Amer­i­ca and have been a sacred area to Native Amer­i­cans dat­ing back 12,000 years. The land­scape is one of the most unique envi­ron­men­tal fea­tures in the Unit­ed States. The Black Hills con­tin­ues to be a sacred area for cer­e­monies, vision quests and trib­al meet­ings for over 60 tribes. 

Thanks to an abun­dance of min­ing roads, tim­ber roads, rur­al farm roads and an active OHV com­mu­ni­ty, this 6‑day itin­er­ary dives deep into the beau­ti­ful Black Hills. Incred­i­ble dirt and grav­el routes are book-end­ed by the famous 100-mile Mick­el­son rails-to-trails route and the 100-mile Cen­ten­ni­al Moun­tain Bik­ing and Hik­ing Trail. 

Is This Ride For You?

You love get­ting off-the-beat­en track and rid­ing on grav­el roads and paved trails for up 100 km (62 miles) per day, espe­cial­ly if you have a com­fort­able bed and your favourite bev­er­age wait­ing for you after each ride. You have an aver­age fit­ness lev­el and don’t mind rid­ing mul­ti­ple days in a row. 


Day 1. Wel­come to Rapid City!

Wel­come to Rapid City, South Dako­ta! We’ll pick you up in the morn­ing from any down­town Rapid City hotel. Once bikes are tuned and ready to go, we will load up and head to Stur­gis, South Dako­ta — home of the famous annu­al Stur­gis Motor­cy­cle Ral­ly. But, we’re here to earn our turns — no motor­cy­cles for us! 

Your guides will review the week’s itin­er­ary, ensure bikes are fit­ted prop­er­ly and then describe today’s route. 

On today’s ride we’ll ped­al from Stur­gis to the his­toric town of Dead­wood, known for its unique gold rush his­to­ry. We’ll find a dif­fer­ent kind of gold today, as we ride scenic trails with incred­i­ble views — if we’re lucky, we’ll expe­ri­ence a gold­en-sun­set behind the Black Hills. 

Tonight, we’ll stay in Dead­wood and enjoy our first din­ner together. 

Day 2.  Dead­wood to Mt. Roosevelt

Rise and shine! Enjoy your morn­ing cof­fee at the local glass-blow­ing stu­dio in Dead­wood and browse through beau­ti­ful local art. After break­fast, we’ll ride out of town towards Mt. Roosevelt. 

We’ll stop by the Mt. Roo­sevelt tow­er. The tow­er was built in 1919 by the local sher­iff, Seth Bul­lock, who ded­i­cat­ed the build to his best friend — Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt. The two shared a love for the Black Hills and this mon­u­ment was cre­at­ed so every­one vis­it­ing the area could share in these sights. Bul­lock and Roo­sevelt played a very impor­tant role in many land con­ser­va­tion projects that now exist in the Black Hills.

After snap­ping a few pho­tos and enjoy­ing a snack break, we’ll drop down into the aban­doned min­ing town of Mait­land (aban­doned in 1915 after the gold rush), and ped­al onward to Savoy. 

Our shut­tle will be wait­ing for us in Savoy, and we’ll head to Spearfish Canyon tonight — a small town in the Black Hills that is an adven­tur­er paradise. 

Day 3. Cement Ridge Loop

After break­fast at the hotel, hop on bikes, no shut­tles today. We’ll ride up Lit­tle Spearfish Canyon and take in beau­ti­ful Roughlock Falls — have your cam­era ready! After a quick break, we’ll start our ascent on the Wag­on Canyon Trail into Wyoming. 

We’ll hike up the Cement Ridge Fire Tow­er to take in panoram­ic views. The tow­er sits on the high­est peak in Wyoming por­tion of the Black Hills. The area around Cement Ridge is rich in Min­nekah­ta lime­stone, used in the man­u­fac­ture of cement — which is prob­a­bly how the peak was named!

After lunch at the top, we’ll loop back to Savoy via Iron Creek Lake. Any­one inter­est­ed in a swim?

Tonight, enjoy anoth­er night at Spearfish Canyon Lodge. 

Day 4. The Mick­el­son Trail 

Today, we have a longer ride planned. We’ll load up our bikes and get ready for a com­bi­na­tion of great road rid­ing and rid­ing on the famous Mick­el­son trail.

We’ll ride through old min­ing and tim­ber towns includ­ing Rochford and Mys­tic, before we reach Hill City.

Lodg­ing for the next 2 nights will be at The Bavar­i­an Inn in the small town of Custer. 

Day 5. Nee­dles High­way & Mt. Rushmore

After break­fast at the hotel, we’ll sad­dle up and hit the road. Today, we are on pave­ment all day — but, it will be worth it — even the hard­est grav­el purest will know why! This is one of the best road rides you will ever do! 

The Nee­dles High­way weaves through nar­row tun­nels, and unique geo­log­i­cal fea­tures. There are many oppor­tu­ni­ties to pull over at scenic look-outs for pho­tos-ops. We’ll enjoy views of Mt. Rush­more, Custer State Park and impres­sive gran­ite spires. 

Day 6. Custer State Park Look 

After a deli­cious break­fast at the hotel, we’ll chase buf­fa­lo through beau­ti­ful Custer State Park — South Dako­ta’s largest and first state park. We’ll ride by impres­sive gran­ite peaks and rolling plains are call­ing, and per­haps take a dip in the clear moun­tain waters. 

We’ll shut­tle back to Rapid City, where we’ll high-five and cheers to a won­der­ful week together! 

Photos & Videos

Book The Sacred Black Hills Now

Dates chosen: Jun. 25, 2023—Jun. 30, 2023
Skill Rating: Blue Square
Fitness Rating: Blue Square
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Skill Levels
Black Diamond

The Black Diamond Rides are  suitable for riders looking for that edge. Maybe it’s the edge of a drop, the edge of a cliff, or singletrack requiring focus and fast reactions developed from extensive experience riding “the edge”. You will find yourself on steep trails of varied surfaces. In the Pacific North West that could be slick roots and loam, in Nepal you will find exposed granite in the Mustang Valley and in Guatemala it maybe narrow stairways through cliffside villages. While airtime is rarely required, the ability to find the backside or clean a tabletop should be comfortable or in a state of progress. Obstacles on Black rides are likely to be outside the range of your bikes ability to cover your goofs with its awesome suspension and grip.

Blue Square

In general, Blue trails are narrower than green trails, encounter unavoidable obstacles such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall. You will want to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of mountain biking including body positions, powerful braking, cornering, riding on varied terrain, steep sections and experience riding trails that requires line choice. Airtime is not mandatory, but you will find yourself on trails with alternate lines giving you the option.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black ride is for those that already know they are looking for a Double Black. It’s going to be very hard and require advanced bike handling skills. You will find yourself on trails with sections most non-riders would look at and say, “that’s totally nuts!”. You will know how to look at a line and contemplate where it will work and where it won’t. Drops of a couple feet should be comfortable and getting your bike off the ground should feel predictable and fun.

Green Circle

Typically, green Rides are safe for beginners. Green Rides may have both avoidable and unavoidable obstacles. Trails are generally low grade, wide, consistent surface texture and have minimal features. You are likely to come across unavoidable obstacles 2-inches or shorter, which is small enough for mountain bike tires to simply roll over. More challenging than tarmac, but in general, a wonderful Ride for those riders new to mountain biking or looking for a casual experience.

Fitness Levels
Black Diamond

A Black Fitness ride will test you. Aside from needing to be able to manage up to 6 hours on the bike, day after day, including distance up to 50km/30miles and elevation gains up to 1750m/5000feet of climbing, you will be adding extra challenges along the route like periods of hike-a-bike and the extra effort required by the whole body to safely dance with your bike over technical terrain. Generally, riders who are up for a Black Fitness ride, likely spend time on the bike a couple times each week.

Blue Square

Blue should be considered a good deal more effort than our Green Rides.  You should be able to handle 3 to 5 hours in the saddle covering up to 45km/30miles and be able to pull off a big day of 1000m/3000feet of elevation gain. Managing fuel is important as well.  You should have a good understanding how your body responds to multiple days on the bike. We will help with positive coaching, a manageable pace and plenty of trailside snacks.

Double Black Diamond

A Double Black will be for those with the strength and endurance to get to the top of anything they want and understand the term “turning the screw”. Distance could be quite high on some routes and elevation gain numbers could hit 2000m/6000 feet+ in a day. You are likely riding multiple days a week during the dry periods and have a trainer or belong to a gym for the rest of the year.

Green Circle

You should be ready to spend 2-4 hours per day on the bike. Mileage may be up to 30km/20 miles and elevation gain will be under 500m/1500feet. On e-MTB tours, numbers will be higher, however the approximate effort would be considered similar to a standard Green Circle ride. If you get on your bike once a week, you will be just fine. However, when preparing for a Ride, you will benefit from more rides and time in the saddle.