Belle Fourche, a small town at the western edge of South Dakota, says that it is exactly halfway between the East Coast and the West Coast. We passed just south of it when we crossed the state line on Friday, September 12. Our trip is ten weeks long, and we completed the fifth week on Monday the 15th, so at the halfway point we were on schedule. South Dakota marked the beginning of the second half of the trip in another way, too. Between Glacier and the Black Hills, we followed a zig-zag line that ran south and east. After Rapid City we headed more or less straight east, to dip our tires in the Atlantic Ocean on October 22.
South Dakota is about 400 miles from end to end. We entered the state on on a frontage road that might have been U.S. 14, but was definitely just a few yards north of I-90. We continued on Saturday (Day 32) south on U.S. 14A thorough Spearfish Canyon, then climbed Icebox Canyon on US 85. After an unsuccessful attempt to ride on the Mickelson Bike Trail, we finished the day on US 385 South to a campground near Hill City. Sunday was a rest day.
On Monday the 15th (Day 34) we started at the intersection of US 385 and State Route 44, which runs the length of the state between 20 and 60 miles south of I-90. Route 44 was originally built to follow a rail line in 1907, and most of the small towns along it have stayed small. We drove through Rapid City on Monday and rode from the east end of town through the Badlands to Interior, the commercial center for Badlands National Park. On Tuesday we continued to the town of White River; on Wednesday, we camped on the west bank of the Missouri River; and on Thursday, battling a vicious crosswind, we rode to Parkston and drove the last few miles to Freeman. On Friday the 19th (Day 38), we crossed into Iowa and stayed in Rock Rapids.