Day 24 - Wall to Kadoka SD
Mileage: 57 miles
Weather: Low 70s to start. Low 90s to end. Winds out of the south to start, out of the NW to end.
Highlights of the day:
Winds were strong and in our face to start the day. Refreshing? It did seem to keep the temperatures down that started in the low 70s. As our route began to swing to the east, the winds swung towards the west. They over shot it a bit and became a rear quartering to end the day. No complaints there.
Today’s route is one of the most unique and stunning on the entire tour. I’ll explain the Badlands in the next paragraph but for now, suffice it to say that it brought may colorful superlatives to mind and out of the mouths of many of the riders. It is awesome in the true sense of the word. I hope the pictures do it justice. Now for the explanation…
Badlands National Park is a 244,000-acre area comprised of softer rocks & clays that have been eroded by wind and water. The remaining hills, buttes, mesas, rocky spires, canyons and other geological formations are striped with sedimentary layers. These layers contain one of the world’s (yes world’s) richest fossil beds of rhino, horse, and sabre-toothed cat that once populated the area. Now you find big horn sheep, pronghorn, mule deer, bison and prairie dog roaming (or digging holes) in the extensive mixed-grass prairie. I’m sure there are other fossilized or currently roaming creatures but these are what I found specified on the Badlands National Park website & I think you get the general picture.
What all this provided was a day of relatively short mileage where the riders could (and did) stop at just about every pull off along the road through the park. Lots of pictures were taken. Lots of questions were asked. The Cedar Pass Lodge was found and pie was eaten. A souvenir or two were purchased. We do try to support the local economy.
About a mile off route, some riders visited the Minute Man Missile National Historic Site. The museum offered a history of the Cold War, the use of nuclear deterrence and the subsequent Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The site offers tours of the silos, however, they require a reservation and perhaps a car, as they add about 30 miles to the day.
The day ended with a 20-mile ride along the frontage road of I-90. We were back to South Dakota rollers and a horizon that goes on forever. We will see more of this all the way into Sioux Falls. We had a rear quartering wind pushing us into the metropolis of Kadoka SD, population 654. Mechanics, rap, and group dinner will wrap up the day. Sleep will be needed for tomorrow we ride much longer.