Hwy 44 West, better known as Rimrock Highway is full of twists and elevation changes. You will see limestone canyon walls as you begin a two mile ascent bringing you from Rapid City’s elevation of 3400 ft to nearly 4500 ft. 5 Miles into your time you will enter The Black Hills National Forest.
This is no place to take your eyes off of the road. There are plenty of turnouts where you can stop, lookaround, and get your bearings.
A few more miles up the road you will find Hisega. A quaint town named after Helen, Ida, Sadie, Ethel, Grace, and Ada. The wives of 6 men who built the first BnB in the county. Another 3 miles along Rimrock, you’ll be at Johnson Siding.
The Norris Peak Road begins at Johnson Siding and runs north to Nemo Road. Stay on Nemo road until you reach Highway 385.
This is a beautiful road bordered by broad lush valleys and spurts of open road. The intersection ‘T” on Hwy 385 is a great place to stretch your legs and gather your thoughts.
Turn left on Hwy 385. In just a couple of miles, you’ll see Pactola Lake — the second largest of many lakes in the Black Hills. Three Forks is just ahead.
You’ve only gone 27 miles. Now you get to see the geological changes as you enter the Central Hills, This is called Black Hills Crystalline Core. Hang right on Hwy 16 at Three Forks. This takes you to Hill City, the second oldest mining town in the Hills. As you ride into Hill City, you’ll see an interesting side road to Deerfield Lake, Rochford, and Mystic.
The Black Hills are only 120 miles long. It’s not very far to anyplace. As you leave Hill City take a left on Hwy 224 toward Mt Rushmore. The Cathedral Spires welcome you to the center of the Hills, Standing guard over the four presidents.
This road is busy and requires some concentration. But there are plenty of pull off spots to take a break and enjoy the views. Hwy 40 intersects Hwy 16 toward Rockerville and Rapid City. But a quick detour towards Keystone on 16A is worth the extra few minutes.