It's much better with less traffic.
After attending the 79th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, I learned that there is some great riding in South Dakota that anyone can enjoy whether you're into the stereotypical biker scene or not. However, I also suggested that you might want to visit sometime outside of bike week to go exploring without massive throngs of motorcycles all over the place. Tim Collins of Forty Times Around did exactly that, visiting some of the same places I did a week after me. His video shows off the sights that I was unable to capture on video myself due to equipment failures.
Tim started with a visit to Wind Cave National Park. This is a bit south of Custer State Park, and somewhere I did not visit during my trip. It was hot enough while I was there that I wouldn't have minded cooling off inside a cave for a little while. Unfortunately, Tim wasn't able to go spelunking because the elevators were out of service. This sounds like somewhere to put on the list for next time, though.
After a chance meetup and lunch with the Fat Nomad, Tim met up with Pat of Ridin' On With Rare Cancer. Together they explored many of the best places to ride in the Sturgis area. After riding past Mount Rushmore they took Iron Mountain Road to Needles Highway, skipping the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop that I took. Tim's video shows that traffic was significantly lighter than when I was there, and the riding much better. It also shows some of the crazy turns on Iron Mountain Road where it loops back over itself in places. A visit to Spearfish Canyon rounded out the day, where unlike me they actually stopped to look at the canyon more closely. I don't think I could find a parking space when I was there, even a motorcycle-sized space.
Then Tim made his way into Badlands National Park. He took the back way in, which must have been the same Sage Creek Road that I found myself on. Tim's BMW adventure bike was much better suited for it than Buffalo Springfield, the Springfield Dark Horse that Indian loaned me during my visit. He ends up at Wall Drug, just like I did on my way back to Sturgis from the Badlands. Tim didn't get the buffalo burger there, however, so he definitely missed out.
As I write this on the first day of winter, it's fun to look back on my own trip and see it through someone else's eyes. If anything, it validates my thinking that I have to go back someday outside of bike week. Not only do I want to visit some of these places again without traffic, but I also want to see some new places like the Crazy Horse Memorial, which I missed last time due to an inaccurate fuel gauge.