Tuesday, August 18, 2020

West To The River

 Sunday morning in Wessington Springs, I was in no real hurry to get packed up and willing to let some of my things dry out.  That didn't really happen though.  Many of the guys were downtown at the gas station having coffee and doughnuts before starting out and I decided to be packed and join them before we all went our own directions.

I got back on Hwy 34 and wanted to go as far as Ft. Thompson to get my first look at the Missouri River.  The last time I rode through SD, I had the Ducati and had been out to the Bighorns with Chris, Steve and Scott.  We mostly used Hwy 44 to go west and I used Hwy 34 after leaving the Black Hills to get back to MN.



When I got to Ft. Thompson, there were big electronic signs on the Hwy, in fact on every approach to town announcing that COVID was present and that NO TOURISTS DO NOT STOP.  I didn't need gas and was glad that I didn't.

Ft. Thompson at the Big Bend Dam, last of the dams built on the Missouri River

More Lewis and Clark Trail info....

Coming from the north in to Chamberlain...

My old friend, Dignity at the Chamberlain Rest Stop

This was the bridge that was being constructed in 2007 when we wanted to cross it west to the Badlands and had to detour.  I backtracked a bit to the Snake Creek Recreation Area to see it.  There were a lot of recreators using the lake, boats aplenty!


 Crossing into Nebraska at Niobrara, the wide river valley and the bridge that spans it.

From Niobrara State Park in Nebraska, looking downriver, the bridge I'd just crossed in the distance.  The park is a beautiful, magical place....a State Park like none I've seen before.  The hills along the Missouri Valley are incredible....the photos not doing them justice.

Thanks Jason for mentioning this place, I had never heard of it before but have been interested in the general terrain along the south side of the river.  Nebraska Hwy 12 east to the Yankton river crossing was about the most picturesque piece of road on the entire trip and most other places as well.

One way road through the park...

Campsite #1....

Had to smile at the Watkins products in my shower at the Yankton motel....

Monday morning from my motel in Yankton and the basis for my decision to wait until 10am to depart.

Home Monday afternoon, not exactly the hoped for path.  I never did touch Iowa...too much weather directly to the east from where I was so I bit a bullet and traveled up I-29 to I-90 in Sioux Falls and then east as far as Worthington where I caught Hwy 60.  North on I-29 with the side winds was brutal; my neck was stiff for a couple days.

A very stormy night in Wessington Springs and some rain Monday morning in Yankton that I watched from my motel room window.  Other than that, really only sprinkles and wind.  I'm still amazed at how green the entire region is.  I've traveled across the plains a lot in July and August and just don't expect to see May/June green everywhere.  Corn all of the way to the Missouri River....simply amazing and it wasn't the scrubby stuff.  No irrigation, it seemed to be thriving.

I very much enjoyed the trip...the company of the guys on their Wessington camp run, the solo time chasing along parts of the Lewis and Clark Trail and in general, riding through land where the horizon is just about the only thing seen.  I've got my fill of the prairie, nice to be back in the familiar hills.


  1. You did it! Man that's awesome. :) I'm glad to see you weren't at campsite #1 for storm #2, those were some nasty storms. Sounds like everybody made it out okay.

    I've been eyeing up that spot for a while, it's so cool to see it through your camera lens. I get excited just thinking about it.

    Keep the fire burning,


    1. Jason, you gotta go! It's an amazing place, a lovely park. I was tired from the night before and the wind was hot but sitting in the shade at campsite #1 was a wonderfully satisfying hour. The park deserved more time.

      I'm trying to figure out the best way to make that happen. In my case, that may very well be hauling something down there for a long weekend to do more exploring. Cooler/later in the season would be my preference.

      Our solar installer had spent that week in Iowa helping with outages from that Monday storm, the damage devastating. It looked that bad in Yankton but didn't cause the same damage, at least that I experienced.

      Go see Niobrara, it's worth the trip!