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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!


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Posts posted by ChadSDPhoto

  1. No problem Dave. As you said, everyone has their own taste in music and I don't expect everyone to like this. Besides, being the father of the musician I'm a little biased. :)


    I'm the photographer for the South Dakota Dept. of Tourism, so anything in the state is likely to find itself in front of my lens at some point. I shoot along the Yellowstone Trail and the Black and Yellow Trail fairly often. Unfortunately our office hasn't yet put a lot of effort into promoting those trails specifically, so my work doesn't always reflect the heritage of the roads.


    Rick - both of these videos were shot with an Olympus Pen E-P3 mirrorless camera. The timelapse stuff was shot in video mode and then sped up while creating the shows in Windows Movie Maker. Nothing too fancy. I use a full range of Nikon gear for my work, but the Olympus is my personal vacation shooter.


    Thanks for checking out my work. My blog post comparing Route 66 and a trip across South Dakota is now live at www.dakotagraph.com. I'd be curious to see what all-out road warriors like yourselves think about my ideas there.



  2. Thanks Dave! Photography is my job but also fun for me, so that helps a lot.


    Legitimate comments on the music. I asked my son to provide two songs, one "Beach Boys/Chuck Berry" style and one "John Denver" style. I think he did pretty well, but if this was a big-budget Hollywood movie they probably would be different.


    Keep an eye on my blog for an upcoming post about how traveling across South Dakota can provide the same experience as Route 66 in a much more compact package - www.dakotagraph.com.



  3. I thought people here might be interested in a pair of slide shows I created after a recent road trip vacation across parts of Route 66 and through northern New Mexico and Colorado.


    I live in South Dakota, so headed straight south on Highway 83 until we hit Route 66 and made a loop over to Albuquerque and back up. We had four smoothie hubcaps on our PT Cruiser at the beginning of the trip, but only one survived, so we called our route the "Lost Hubcap Trail."


    Check out my photos at









  4. May I make a humble suggestion? Guys like you and Lepp can intimidate beginning and even intermediate photographers, and not all of us aspire to multi or long lens SLR fame. So I might suggest adding what I call "fun photography" sessions.


    Anyone can do 3D, panoramas, 360, and HDR images that will please and amaze them and friends more than most "good" photos. And they can do them with any cheap digital camera using free or very cheap software. You have spectacular locations for it, and it might add to the audience. Of course its not "art," but who's to say!


    Thanks Dave. Glad to have input from all angles. I don't think you need to be intimidated by me, but I am by Mr. Lepp. He seems like a real down-to-earth kind of guy, though and I think he's going to be a great part of the weekend.


    The sessions I will be leading and several others during the Black Hills Photo Shootout will be really low key "photo walks" more on the fun level instead of the heavy instructional level. I'm sure we will touch on most of the techniques you mentioned somewhere throughout the event. We are hoping that the Shootout appeals to photographers of all skill levels so no one is intimidated and everyone goes home with some new ideas to play with.



  5. Just wanted to let everyone know about a new photography festival happening in South Dakota this fall.


    The Black Hills Photo Shootout will be Sept. 17-19, 2010. We have lots of fun workshops, seminars and photo walks planned. Probably most interesting to American Road readers will be sessions at two different ghost towns and at the Boondocks 1950's theme park. Also included will be landscape, wildlife and Photoshop sessions.


    You can check out the ever-expanding details at www.blackhillsphotoshootout.com or become a Facebook fan.


    Hope to see you there!


  6. Sorry it's taken awhile to get back to this thread. Family obligations over the holiday, you know... :)


    Travel through South Dakota seems to be all based on east-west routes, probably a long-lingering remnant of pioneer trails, railroads, etc. However, one of our better two-lane routes runs north-south along the Missouri River - the Native American Scenic Byway.


    National Scenic Byways has info on this route at http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2596/.


    The Missouri River is also, of course, the Lewis and Clark Trail through South Dakota.


    Highlights along the way include -


    - The remains of Fort Randall, just below Fort Randall Dam at Pickstown

    - The Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, with great displays of Native American artifacts

    - The Lewis and Clark Info Center in Chamberlain, perched on the bluffs above a great view of the Missouri River

    - The South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre

    - The Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, also known as the state museum, is a gigantic underground facility with great artifact displays and rotating exhibits

    - Sitting Bull's grave and Sacagawea Monument, west of Mobridge



  7. How about some classic roadside attractions in the Black Hills? We've got plenty of them and here are my suggestions -


    Reptile Gardens, south of Rapid City on the road to Mount Rushmore since 1937. They have the world's largest collection of reptiles, but even if you aren't a snake person, there's something to see - beautifully landscaped grounds, birds of prey shows, a petting zoo, etc. http://www.reptilegardens.com/


    Bear Country, just up the hill from Reptile Gardens. A drive-through wildlife park with bears, elk, wolves, bighorn sheep and lots more. http://www.bearcountryusa.com/


    The Black Hills are filled with caves, with eight giving guided tours. I've been in all of them, and while each has something unique about them, I'd recommend the two that are operated by the National Park Service - Jewel Cave and Wind Cave. There are links on from here - http://www.travelsd.com/placestogo/caves.asp


    Cosmos Mystery Area - A classic "gravity hill" attraction where balls roll up hill and people stand on the wall. http://www.cosmosmysteryarea.com/


    Flintstones Bedrock City in Custer - A small amuseument park/campground with a Flintstones theme. http://www.flintstonesbedrockcity.com/


    Evans Plunge, natural warm water swimming pool in Hot Springs. http://www.evansplunge.com/


    Boondocks - a 50's themed gift shop/drive in/museum. Lots of classic cars parked around, and tons of nifty souvenirs. ON Highway 385 south of Deadwood. http://stores.fiftiesfun.com/StoreFront.bok


    Dinosaur Park in Rapid City - Concrete dinosaurs roam a tall ridge overlooking the city. http://www.shellworld.net/~emily/dinosaur.html


    Like I said, there are many more, but I like these the best for the retro/nostalgia tourism feel.



  8. OK wow, I thought I was the expert on South Dakota when we started this little journey, but I've already learned tons. Thanks for the map Dave and the trail list. I had no idea we had that many historic routes through the state. The Yellowstone Trail and the Black and Yellow Trail are the only ones I knew of before now.


    I did rectify the lack of Iron Mountain Road photos on my blog today. You can now get a better idea of what it looks like here.


    So let's finish up the rest of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, SD hwys 244, 87 and 16A. Assuming we've traveled the Iron Mountain Road section as posted yesterday, we are now at Mount Rushmore. A tip for viewing - Rushmore looks best in the earliest light you can make it there for. Sunrise lights the faces in golden hues, but they still look good up until about 11 am or so. After that, shadows begin to form on the heads and get worse as the day goes on.


    There is no entrance fee to Mount Rushmore, but there is a $10 parking fee.


    One of the often-missed gems of the park is the museum tucked underneath the main viewing platform. Many people stand on the roof of it, take pictures of the carving and leave without ever finding it. It does a very good job of explaining the monument, why and how it was made. If you're lucky, you'll catch Nick Clifford there signing books and talking with people. Nick is one of the few remaining men who actually worked on the carving. If you see him, tell him I sent you.


    Also not to be missed is the Presidential Trail, which leaves from either side of the viewing platform and leads to the bottom of the rockpile below the faces. If you take the left branch from the platform, you can stay on completely level trail right up to the rockpile. The right branch leads to long staircases down and back up.


    The rest of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway encirles Harney Peak, the highest point between the Rockies and the Alps. West of Rushmore SD 244 winds past beautiful Horsethief Lake with Harney looming above it. About 10 miles further 244 intersects with US 16/385 and you will want to turn left, but only for about 100 yards and turn left again on SD 87, the Sylvan Lake Road. You will climb very steeply up a set of several switchbacks topped by another granite tunnel before reaching Sylvan Lake, where the scenic byway splits. Following the the easterly SD 87 part of the route takes you onto the Needles Highway and into Custer State Park from the northwest. Following the southerly SD 89 takes you into the town of Custer, and then east into Custer State Park from the west.


    I'm going to suggest the Needles Highway branch. You will first pass by Sylvan Lake, which along with Mount Rushmore was featured in the movie "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets." If you've seen the movie, the monument and the lake are much farther apart than they appear on the screen. There's a great hiking trail around the lake, and this is also the main trailhead if you want to hike to the summit of Harney Peak. Pictures of Sylvan Lake are featured here.


    From the lake, it's on to Needles Highway proper. This is one of those amazing engineering feats of road-building. I'll let you look at my pictures and description to see what I mean here.


    As you drop out of the Needles, you will enter the main part of Custer State Park. I would suggest turning east on US 16A and making a circle through the park on the Wildlife Loop Road. You will pass by the State Game Lodge, which served as the Summer White House for presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower. There is a great set of photos and description of the lodge at historic-hotels-lodges.com. The lodge will be undergoing some renovation in 2009, so be aware it may not be as grand as it could be next summer.


    The Wildlife Loop Road takes you through the main habitat for the large bison herd in the park. I'll let you read and see my thoughts about them here. You will also likely see antelope, deer, prairie dogs, wild burros, and possibly bighorn sheep and elk.


    More info on Custer State Park can be found here.


    I'll call that good for this post. Hope that seems helpful to everyone.




  9. While planning your SD trip you might check a not-to-easy-to-find page on the Travel SD site: www.travelsd.com/travelprofessionals/grouptour/itineraries/highway12.asp


    John Ridge -- Yellowstone Trail Association


    Thanks for pointing that out, John! That's a portion of my office's website that I don't find very often myself.


    In fact, the other itineraries there are very useful for the rest of the state as well.



    I'll be adding some more Black Hills info later tonight.



  10. I am indeed shocked. :o Next you'll be telling us that you've never heard of some of the other routes, such as the Hypotenuse Trail, that Dave has maps of. B)


    Sorry, but Dave didn't include South Dakota on the Hypotenuse Trail, but he did send me a lovely ballpoint pen from Palm Springs from that trailblazing trip. I have a funny feeling Dave has maps of a lot of routes that I don't have a clue about. :lol:

  11. Thanks everyone! Great additional suggestions Chris, keep 'em coming.


    If no one minds, I'll just keep adding to this thread until you've all got a full picture of the entire state. :D I'll try to hit the highlights of the rest of the Black Hills next.


    And by the way, if you follow those links to TravelSD and the Black Hills and Badlands sites, most of the pictures you will see there are mine. That's my fulltime job - making South Dakota look like a place you'd want to take your vacation. Believe it or not, I love my job, because it's fun and I get to travel the state all the time.


    If anyone has questions about a specific place in South Dakota, fire away. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to track it down. Like the Custer Battlefield Highway, still can't believe I'd never heard of that before.





  12. So, any thoughts to get me started planning?


    Well, let's see here.


    First off, even though I've worked for the South Dakota Office of Tourism for over 16 years now, the Custer Battlefield Highway is a new one to me. :P I had to do some Google searching to come up with a map, which isn't very clear, but I can make some educated guesses as to where it once ran. Looks like this route was established well before most or any of the roads were paved and I don't have a clue when the name ceased being published on official maps, etc. My guess would be that the construction of Interstate 90 pretty much killed off whatever was left of the use of the name.


    So, let me do some comparing of the vintage map I found and a modern one to match up existing roads and see what I can come up with there. If anyone out there can lead us to more specific info, I'd appreciate the help.


    To make Sheila happy, let's point out Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills region. I'm sure pretty much everyone on this forum is a map junkie, so we already know that the Black Hills are in the southwestern corner of South Dakota, right?


    Rapid City is the hub or gateway city for exploring the Hills, especially for those who do arrive on the interstate. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is approximately 18 miles southwest of Rapid City, just outside the small mining/tourist town of Keystone. US Highway 16 and 16A lead from Rapid City to Rushmore, but due to the heavy traffic during the peak summer season, this route has been enlarged to a four-lane, divided highway. Since we try to avoid those, I'm going to suggest a route that was designed specifically to show off and heighten the anticipation of seeing the "Shrine of Democracy" at Rushmore.


    By following SD Hwy 79 south out of Rapid City for 17 miles, you will reach the town of Hermosa. Turning west on SD Hwy 36 will bring you to the entrance to Custer State Park, which is another attraction not to be missed, but for now we turn north on US Hwy 16A, also known as Iron Mountain Road. We pass through a small part of the park, so watch for buffalo, antelope, deer and famous "begging" burros. Continuing out of the park, we begin to climb Iron Mountain itself. There is a nice turnout parking area at the summit, with short hiking paths to overlooks with scenic views of the surrounding Black Hills, Harney Peak, and in the distance, there it is - Mount Rushmore. Continuing down the other side of Iron Mountain brings us to the ingenious part of this road.


    South Dakota Governor/US Senator Peter Norbeck personally mapped out the route that leads you through sweeping pigtail bridges and three tunnels that perfectly frame the carvings on Mount Rushmore. After winding down the mountain and through the one-lane tunnels, you will understand why this this is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. At the intersection with SD Hwy 244, you will turn west to Rushmore itself.


    I'm embarassed to say that I haven't written about Iron Mountain Road on my blog yet, so don't have pictures there to point you to, but here's a link to my main Mount Rushmore photo tips - Mount Rushmore. (I'll try to fix that little situation in the very near future. ;) )


    For more info on the park at Mount Rushmore, check out the National Park Service site and click here for a brochure on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.


    Also, for main travel info on South Dakota, check out my office's website at TRAVELSD. For more info on the Black Hills and Badlands region of South Dakota, check here - BLACK HILLS.


    How's that for a starter?



  13. Chad,


    The slide show of South Dakota was beyond spectacular! Sheila and want to visit South Dakoda next spring or fall, and your photos are a big draw.


    Incidentally, I only noted a couple of road shots in the slide show.....I bet you have some more beautiful road shots to share with the world. :)


    Thanks Dave. Since I get paid to make South Dakota look good, I hope my photos make people want to come here.


    Didn't mean to hijack the thread about TN, but won't complain if we want to discuss South Dakota. :lol:


    If you followed the link in my post above, you may have only seen the blog page with the Tennessee photos, so if you click HERE, you'll find lots more photos with suggestions on places to go, including several road options.


    Visit often, I will be posting many more routes in the future. I've already got photos and ideas for several backed up on the on ramp for the blog.



  14. I attended a photography workshop in the Smokies last October and hope I never go back at that time of year. The traffic even in the park was unbelievable. I'm from out here in the west where we have much more open space. I couldn't believe crawling through the park at 5 miles an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I'm a fan of touristy areas, but that was way too much.


    It was beautiful, though. Just too bad the congestion has created a mess out of it.


    I've posted some of the pictures from the trip at my blog - Dakotagraph.



  15. That's fun to read someone else's point of view from a road I have traveled many times. The Tetons have to be my favorite place I've ever been.


    Dubois Drug is a new one to me, though. I'll check that out next time I'm through there. Thanks for the tip.


    By the way those were bighorn sheep, not mountain goats - a common mistake. Check out my blog for an explanation of the difference. http://dakotagraph.blogspot.com/search/lab...ountain%20goats


    Have a good time the rest of the way. I hope you don't hit too much more snow!



  16. Folks do things a bit different out there in the wide open spaces.


    I think I'll take that as a compliment. :D And I also won't disagree.


    Just in case anyone's interested, The Travel Channel will run a program on Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills this Friday:


    Friday April 18 5:00 PM ET/PT


    It was also on last night and includes some great driving shots along the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, part of which are Iron Mountain Road (with pigtail bridges and tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore) and the Needles Highway.


    You can see pictures of this area on my blog at www.dakotagraph.blogspot.com.




  17. What is a no hunting tire? A Wall Drug billboard every 5 miles? That seems like a high concentration of advertising for a road with so many pheasants wandering around.




    Hmm, I thought No Hunting tires were a wide-spread phenomenon, but maybe not. Here's what I'm talking about.


    And the Wall Drug signs are actually mainly within the last 15 miles of the route, belive it or not. :lol:




  18. Howdy from South Dakota. I drove SD Highways 34 and 14 from Fort Pierre to Wall yesterday morning and thought I'd give a report.


    I think the numbers say it best -


    Miles 120

    Towns 5

    Gas Stations 4

    Public Restrooms 7 (if you count two roadside rest areas with outhouses)

    Speed limited areas under 65 mph 3

    Police Officers 0

    Friendly waves from other drivers 9

    Pheasants wandering along the roadside 24

    Tumbleweeds actually tumbling 5

    "No Hunting" tires on fenceposts 4

    Wall Drug billboards 23

    Beautiful prairie scenery and wide-open sky Unlimited



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