Friday, May 30, 2008


Wild Wales Road in Eastern South Dakota

I went to a meeting for Safe Routes to School (btw, it's about bicycling and walking). Jen went for a bicycle ride from LaFramboise Island to Farm Island.

What started out with the bird watching ride on a bicycle in the Pierre area turned into a unique view of an area of Eastern South Dakota that is easily missed if you're in a hurry. I started traveling this road many years ago before it was even paved, but I had never done it in the kind of weather we experienced on May 29, 2008. Oh yeah, I wasn't in a hurry either.

I will call this the 216 Steet road as it begins on that county road that about 50 miles East of Pierre on SDHY 34 and heads nearly straight East and after a few jogs you finish up on 214. Most people would not think of a straight road as scenic and maybe the weather did have something to do with it.

But let me say that no road is scenic regardless of how many twists and turns it may have. On the contrary, it is the topography and ecology through which it passes, although many motored vehicle drivers might disagree, in my opinion they are missing the point. They are not alone most map makers make the same mistake. Perhaps it is simply the pervasive influence of cars that go where roads takes them. Maybe that is the point after all.

It was cloudy and the wind easterly,the fog was occasionally dense enough to bring the visibility to less than 1/4 of a mile. The sloughs and pot holes all had water and ducks, the prairie sounds of meadow larks and red wing blackbirds was ever present. Sun peaked through once in a while and the views changed from mile to mile. It was a great experience resulting mostly from PDL (pure dumb luck).

I would encourage anyone heading to the river or returning on a day of "bad weather" to take their time and enjoy this special glimpse at a scenic part of South Dakota that does not appear on the tourist maps. I am guessing sunrise and sunset would be good times to go in even in sunny weather and those scenes could be captured with a camera.

It would take a more talented photographer than me to capture the feeling of this place at this time. The best I can do is an abstract view of a crumbling barn taken a couple of years ago not far from the WWR .

Why do I call the Wild Wales Road? Even though there are cattle instead of sheep and it is in South Dakota instead of Great Britain, there is a remote wildness about it that made me think of the wilderness area of Wales and a trip we made across that area in 2002. Amazing what can be found in our own backyard.

It would make a great 3 day bicycle camping trip with an opportunity to camp out in the Ree Hills, say by the Spring Lake WPA, and another night along the the Missouri River. There are no services for about 100 miles along the 216 route, the towns are along both US14 to the North and SD34 to the South. Ames and Danforth persist as place names but the services are gone. Carry some food and water and enjoy the Wild Wales Road, the remoteness makes it special.

More detail? Check the Pierre to Huron via Wild Wales Road Interactive Map and plan your own trip. Take your time. Go slow. Ride a bicycle. The planet depends on your actions.

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