Coteau des Prairies, or "Hills of the Prairies", is a 93.5-mile cycling route through northeastern South Dakota. As the name suggests, cyclists can expect rolling hills through the prairie, with stops at several of the state parks and lake recreation areas in the region. The Coteau des Prairies is peaceful and rural, and also passes some wetland areas. A big highlight of the tour is Sica Hollow State Park, a land of many Sioux legends.
What Makes It Great
If you think riding through the prairie for 90+ miles is boring, you haven't done the Coteau des Prairies Tour. The hills will give you a bit of a challenge, but the quiet prairie is scenic, and the stops along the way keep things interesting.
Sica Hollow is a highlight of the trip, and is known for its many Sioux legends. "Sica" actually means evil or bad, and was named for the red-tinted water that comes out of the springs (though it's actually red because of the minerals in the water). There are several legends of mysterious events here and the supposedly supernatural Trail of Spirits is a popular walk at the park.
Note: The roads to Sica Hollow are gravel, but the rest of the route is paved. If you want to visit Sica Hollow on paved roads, there is a 20-mile detour.
Fort Sisseton also has its share of history, named after the nearby Sisseton Indian Tribe. The 1864 fort is now a state park, where visitors can see the officers' quarters, stone barracks, powder magazine, guard house, and other original buildings.
Roy Lake and Pickerel Lake are great places to stop after a long day of riding for a swim and to camp for the night. Many birds call the lakes home, and the recreation areas give riders a nice change of scenery.
Who is Going to Love It
At 93.5 miles with rolling hills, this tour is a great warm-up for a century ride or a multi-day trip. Because it's also a loop, you could definitely start at a park and just go out and back if you feel like 90+ miles is too much.
Most of the riding is on pavement with minimal traffic, but there are stretches of highway riding with no shoulder, so you are sharing the road with cars. If you want to ride with your family, it's doable, but safety is something to consider.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Because the Coteau des Prairies Tour is a loop, there are many access points. Check out this map to plan your trip.
There are only two towns on the route (and two towns off the route), so make sure you have everything you need.
There is camping available at Pickerel Lake, Fort Sisseton, and Roy Lake.