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2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 8; Badlands National Park and former US Route 16A on South Dakota State Route 240 t

After visiting Rockerville I continued northeast towards I-90 on US 16 and the US 16 Bypass Route of Rapid City.  I swung easterly on I-90/US Route 14 towards Badlands National Park and South Dakota State Route 240 (a former routing of SD 40 and US 16A) from I-90 exit 131.


This blog serves as Part 8 in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 7 from Rockerville, SD and US 16 can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 7; Rockerville, SD the ghost town surrounded by US 16

SD 240 is an approximately 40 mile loop of I-90 which traverses through the eastern segment of Badlands National Park.  From the eastern terminus in Jackson County at I-90 exit 131 SD 240 jogs southward and has a junction with SD 248.  SD 240 continues south into Badlands National Park within a couple miles from I-90.  Upon entering Badlands National Park SD 240 runs on Badlands Loop Road comes across the Big Badlands Overlook.






Badlands National Park consists of a series of eroded buttes and pinnacles which stands over the largest undisturbed grass prairie in the United States.  Badlands was set aside as a National Monument in 1929 before being elevated to a National Park in 1978.


Hiking trails in Badlands National Park are some lacking compared to most National Parks unless you can traverse the eroded buttes.


South of the Big Badlands Overlook SD 240 descends through Cedar Pass towards the White River watershed and follows a largely western course.  There is an overlook on the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail of the White River.  Below the Cliff shelf SD 240 passes by SD 377 and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.


On it's westward trek SD 240 passes various overlooks of the surrounding landscape as it crosses into Pennington County.  I found most of the parking areas to make decent enough short trail heads.  The path of SD 240 and the Badlands Loop Road generally follows the terrain closely dipping in/out of the buttes in the process.










At Rim Road the routing of SD 240 swings northward again out of Badlands National Park and ends at I-90 in Wall.  The Park Boundary was oddly marked by a derelict goat starring down traffic.






As stated above almost the entirety of SD 240 was part of US 16A.  From Wall US 16A split from US 16 through Badlands National Park.  At what is now SD 377 the routing of US 16A picked up the original alignment of SD 40.  Both US 16A and SD 40 continued over Cedar Pass onto the routing of SD 248.  US 16A and SD 40 met what was the main line US 16 on what is today SD 73 north of I-90.  The original alignments of US 16A and SD 40 can be seen on this 1949 South Dakota State Highway Map.

1949 South Dakota State Highway Map

My understanding is that the Badlands Loop Road was upgraded completely to gravel by 1944 but I'm not uncertain when it was signed as US 16A.  US 16A was apparently replaced by SD 240 in 1980 when US 16 was truncated to Rapid City.

USends on US 16

Part 9 of the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip; US Route 14A in the Homestake Mining District and Spearfish Canyon

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