I went back to Hot Springs to get groceries and send an email on free wi-fi, then headed for the Badlands. Since I was so far south, I decided to go the southern route to the White River visitor's center. The first adventure was the Garmin GPS sending me to Buffalo Gap on a dirt road. I thought better and turned to go back to SD-79 up to Hermosa. SD-79 looked like the transition between the Black Hills and the prairie. At Hermosa, I saw a big RV park and thought maybe I should stay the night (about 5pm) rather than push for the Badlands without a clear stopping point. But, I pressed on.
I drove and drove until I saw Red Shirt and the sign for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that marked the northwest corner of the Badlands southern park. Then south with views of the Badlands to my left. The Garmin kept trying to get me to take dirt roads and lost the perfectly good paved road several times. Weird. I finally got to the road to the White River visitor's center and it was dirt. 21 miles of it. I took it and it was a good road for about 10 miles. I could do 30mph with no trouble. Then about half way, the washboard started and the sides were treacherously sandy. I finally made it to the visitor's center at about 630. It was closed and marked no camping. Drat.
So, off on SD-44, a road with grasslands on both sides in the White River valley but no shoulders and no place to pull off. I realized I was headed east and decided to use one of the tractor gravel access things to turn around and head back west to find a place to sleep for the night. I finally made it to the road that goes to the Sage Creek primitive camp but it was dirt and 15miles away! At 9pm, I was not up for that adventure. So, I got back on the paved road and drove to Rapid City and an Walmart to sleep.
Route: US385S to Hot Springs, SD – US385 E – SD79N – CR656 (dirt) to Buffalo Gap – thanks Garmin – CR101W – SD79N – SD40E to Red Shirt – BIA41S – BIA2E to White River VC – BIA27N to Scenic – SD44E to U-turn to CR590 (U-turn) – SD44W to Rapid City