Going Long to Cover South Dakota from East to West
South Dakota has such a diverse landscape. Five different paths of more than 400 miles in length across the state will broaden your perspective exponentially.
All five of these ribbons originate in Wyoming on the west with all but one finishing in Minnesota on the east. A couple of them intersect and share some surface, causing a bit of repetition. We will take them north to south and hit some of the highlights.
Considering that South Dakota as the crow flies is about 383 miles long according to netstate.com, it takes a few turns to get past 400. U.S. Highway 212 stretches just over 410 miles in the most direct route across the state. Some of the major points along the way include grazing by Belle Fourche, Newell and Faith. Cheyenne River Reservation borders the Missouri River on the west side before reaching Gettysburg, Redfield, Clark and Watertown.
U.S. Highway 14 has some commonality with Interstate 90 and S.D. Highway 34 on its journey through the Mt. Rushmore state. The 437 mile run starts with the western edge sharing the road with I-90 for a good portion of the journey until breaking off at Wall and heads to Philip. A sharp turn to the north at Midland brings an eventual hookup with Highway 34 on the way to Pierre. The two roads divide after the capital city with U.S. 14 taking the northern route toward Miller, Huron, De Smet and Brookings.
Back to Highway 34 which takes a 419 mile jaunt across the state. There is a near miss with U.S. 212 as it runs to the south of Belle Fourche before winding toward Sturgis with an interaction with I-90 along the way. It’s a long way until the junction with U.S. 14 with a lot of wide open prairie in view. Fast forward to the turn south after Pierre following the Missouri River a bit until the river bends south with Wessington Springs, Woonsocket, Artesian, Howard and Madison lying ahead.
Not that I-90 cares a whit about U.S. 14 and S.D. 34, brief forays into its space, but it takes about 412 miles to traverse the state. Four of the top ten cities in South Dakota lie next to the super slab. Spearfish, Rapid City, Mitchell and Sioux Falls are all above 10,000 in population along the route. Meanwhile Chamberlain provides the scenic stop at its confluence of the Missouri River.
The longest sojurn on one highway in the Mt. Rushmore State is U.S. 18 and the only one to conclude in Iowa. Distance tally stands at 447 miles from near Edgemont on the west to Canton on the east. In between is a dalliance with the southern Black Hills, Sioux Indian Reservations (Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Yankton), county seats (Hot Springs, Martin, Winner, Lake Andes and Canton) and crosses the Missouri River by using the Ft. Randall Dam.
Each route has its own quirks and treasures. If driving is your thing, pick your pleasure on your next trip through South Dakota.