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Old 11-01-2011, 12:53 AM   #1
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Mickelson bike trail

My wife and I are thinking of spending a few weeks in the Black Hills area for our 30th wedding anniversary. What can anyone tell us about the Mickelson Bike trail? Any suggestions for campgrounds that are on the trail? We aren't sure of when, but probably around June next year.

Thanks.

-Joe and Anita
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:36 AM   #2
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We highly recommend the Rafter J, great place to stay, the only thing their internet was spotty at best, if that is important to you. Good Luck
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Old 11-02-2011, 06:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawkeye View Post
We highly recommend the Rafter J
Rafter J Bar Ranch - Home

We stayed here for two weeks. The location is very convenient to so many of the attractions. Purchase the multi-day pass to Custard State Park...which could easily be a National park.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:50 AM   #4
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Mickelson Trail is over 100 miles long. We had a guy that worked maintenance in the trail staying in the CG we managed in SD. It is packed gravel and is basically an old railroad bed. A lot of the trail is in the Black Hills National Forest, but it also runs through or near some towns. Many people stayed with us and did a different section of the trail daily. Some even had others drop them off at one point then leave a vehicle at another point as their transportation back to the CG at the end of the day. The main trail is not steep, but does have some long grades up and down. There are branches off the trail that have been added that are challenging for old guys like me.
There are CGs in/near Hill City in sight of the trail, but none that I know of on the trail itself. There is also one that runs through a cut beside the Crazy Horse monument. CRS has kicked in and cannot recall the name of the CG, but it is owned by the Korzak family that owns the monument.
There are some tunnels on the trail as well (three or four I believe) but I never saw them - I believe they are more in the northern portion of the Hills.
No motorized vehicles on the trail except maintenance and emergency. Cell phones don't work that well in the Hils so be prepared for that.
Have fun, the scenery is great and the air is so clean!
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info. Our thought was to spend part of our time at each end of the trail. Since we have three weeks, we were also thinking the Spearfish area. We are open to other suggestions as well.

How hot is this area in early-mid July?

-Joel
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Old 11-02-2011, 03:33 PM   #6
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Spearfish is an interesting little town, but Spearfish Canyon is a delight to drive. Take your fishing rod if you do fish. Coming from the north into the Hills you will see some signs that point out where the winter scenes from Dances With Wolves was filmed. Snow gets pretty deep in that area. SC will run into IceBox Canyon and there is a lot of beautiful scenery there, as well as some boondocking places if you like that. Turn left where Spearfish runs into IceBox and you will end up in Lead and the huge goldmine that used to be a mountain but is now a huge hole in the ground. Turn right and you end up in Wyoming and some neat areas around Sundance.
Make sure you check out the Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. It is amazing to see the StageCoach West tour buses drive through the Eye of the Needle tunnel.
You can actually bike from Sylvan Lake almost into Custer with very little effort - my kind of biking. A portion of Iron Mountain is easy, but some is pure "go slow and breath deep" also. Watch out for buffalo and wild donkeys on the south end of Iron Mountain inside the Park. The donkeys can get pretty aggressive begging for food.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:53 PM   #7
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How early do you need to make reservations? We are probably going to leave around the last week of June. Given all the recommendations, we are going to spend part of the time at Rafter J's.

-Joel
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:08 AM   #8
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If staying at Rafter J around July 4th, I would make reservations as soon as your plans are firmed up.
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:48 PM   #9
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We have the date we are leaving settled, still don't know how long we are going to stay. We are going to make reservations for rafter-j for the first half, but we are still looking for another campground for the rest. We are leaning towards the Spearfish area, but are still open to suggestions.

We are planning to take two days to get there from the Twin Cities. What are the recommended stopping places on the way there? Is there anywhere that is worth spending more than an overnight?

Thanks.

-Joel
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Old 11-07-2011, 04:59 PM   #10
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The city park in Spearfish has a fantastic campground ... room for every kind of rig there ... tent trailers to Marathon with a Hummer toad when we were there ...

You can make a reservation as I recall
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:17 PM   #11
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I suppose you are taking I-90 to get here. If your schedule works out timewise, I suggest you overnite in Mitchell (SD) at the Cabelas Store on the left side of the interstate if traveling west. They have a huge parking lot and encourage RVers to stay there overnight. Most will visit the store and spend money. Our first stop I spent over 500 dollars. I guess a CG would have been cheaper.
If your shedule does not allow you to stop that early or late, then consider Wall (Home of the well advertised drugstore in the nation, Wall Drug. There is a neat and reasonable CG called Arrow there. It has 50 amp and full hookups. It is reasonable and easy to get in and out of. We weathered a huge storm there one night and Ms C was afraid the MH was going to be shoved forward as the storm hit us. The sites are oriented east/west and most of the weather in that area comes from the west.
There is yet another Cabelas in the east side of Rapid City. It is relatively new and it too encourages overnites. It has water and and a dump station. Just off the interstate and near the FlyingJ at the same exit. The FJ is really busy and loud and not a good candidate for an overnite with Cabelas only a half mile away.
Hope you guys have a great trip. Explore the area, it is some of the most interesting territory in the west. History there is still going on. ie Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement are still real there.
Just writing about it makes me want to join you.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:35 PM   #12
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Everyone-

Thanks for all the info- it has really given us a sense of what to do. Mitchell SD looks like the likely stopping place for us, so the Cabelas suggestion is perfect. (Thanks Doc) My only question would be, is there anywhere along the path to Hill City that is worth spending an extra day or two?

The city campground in Spearfish looks nice, but they don't take reservations until May. I would rather get our plans settled sooner. We are not stuck on the Spearfish area at this point, so we are open to other suggestions. We will probably spend 10 days at Rafter-J, then another 10 days somewhere else.

-Joel
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:14 AM   #13
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Chris campground is in Spearfish right off the interstate. Very nice place and the family that operates it lives on site. They have a small animal farm and feeding time is fun for the young or old.
Also the bike trail is right outside the driveway to the Rafter J, no need to drive the toad to the trail.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:20 PM   #14
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We had found Chris' Camp website, and are considering them. Another one we are looking at is Whistlers Gulch by Deadwood. Any opinions on them?

Also, how hilly is it traveling to the campgrounds we are considering (Rafter J, Chris and Whistlers Gulch)

-Joel
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