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Nebraska Route Choice

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Nebraska Route Choice

Old 01-24-16, 04:25 PM
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Nebraska Route Choice

Hi everyone,

I'll be doing an East to West cross country ride this coming spring and summer with my wife and our 9-year-old daughter. I've asked lots of route questions through various posts and have received great advice from many of you.

There's one last piece of the route puzzle I'm trying to fill. I've plotted three different routes from Sioux City, Iowa to Valentine, Nebraska, as follows, and I'm wondering which one is best, or if there's an even better fourth way.

Northern option: Follows the ACA Lewis and Clark Route through Yankton, SD, then drops down to Route 12 in Nebraska. Route: Sioux City to Valentine through Yankton - A bike ride in Sioux City, IA

Middle Option: Pick up Nebraska 12 right out of Sioux City and follow it the entire way. Route:Sioux City to Valentine on 12 - A bike ride in Sioux City, IA

Southern option: Basically follows Route 20 the entire way. Route: Sioux City to Valentine on 20 - A bike ride in Sioux City, IA

Southern option is somewhat more direct and less climbing, but at this point I'm partial to the Northern option because I like the idea of following the Missouri River for longer. Also seems like somewhat better services options (Vermillion, Yankton).

But I welcome others' thoughts on the relative merits of these routes.

Thanks in advance!

Rob / White Birch
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Old 01-24-16, 06:19 PM
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U.S.Highway 20 is a nice route through northern, Nebraska. I'll PM you the info on the route we took. You might get some other ideas from the description. I believe it would be a safe route for a skilled 9-year old. We really enjoyed Nebraska, and are thinking of some kind of loop with our daughters. We would use some of Highway 20 as one leg. Our daughters are a few decades older than your daughter.

Coming through Iowa is a different proposition. While Nebraska has really good roads, Highway 20 through Iowa was a challenge; narrow, shoulderless, and bumpy. However, that was 2007, and my wife actually wrote a letter to the Governor about the rumble strips. Who knows.

I have to warn you. Bike touring is pretty addictive, especially when you start children down the slippery slope at that young age.

Have fun!

P.S. Contrary to popular belief, Nebraska is not flat; but it is great riding.

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Old 01-24-16, 07:03 PM
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I followed your middle option, Nebraska 12 a few years back and enjoyed it. Just west of Springview I turned south and followed dirt roads through the Niobrara National Scenic River Preserve for most of the final stretch into Valentine. I was riding a mountain bike on that tour. Ponca State Park is a good stop for camping just sightly off route a bit west of Sioux City. Niobrara State Park is on the route further west.

Niobrara National Scenic River (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 01-24-16, 07:56 PM
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I'm partial to Nebraska for touring X-USA - and am surprised that there is no designated E-W route across the state - since the Sandhills are far more scenic than the ACA TransAm in Kansas or the Northern Tier in N.D. Although NE 12 has very few shoulders, it has almost no traffic west of Niobrara. US 20 gets interesting west of Valentine, has low traffic, and has consistently good shoulders. East of Niobrara, I think that the S.D. option is better. The eastern segment of NE 12 has more traffic, is pretty hilly, and is narrow. US 20 west of Sioux City is unpleasant - fairly heavy traffic and iffy road surfaces west of Jackson. (although I'd take city streets thru S. Sioux City rather than the bypass, if I did this route)

The bridge at Running Water is sweet and the county roads in eastern SD are quiet.

Here's the Nebraska traffic volume map:

The Nebraska cycling map which shows shoulder width (mostly):
Note the blue and green sections of NE 12.

And the South Dakota traffic volume map:
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Old 01-25-16, 09:25 AM
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If you feel you still need more information, let me know and I can get you in contact with a friend of mine who is originally from Nebraska. She has crossed the US at least a half dozen times and has participated in the Tour De Nebraska, every year for the last 15 or 20 years, or as long as they have been holding it, and so I'm sure she would be a wealth of information concerning the Cornhusker state.
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Old 01-25-16, 09:49 AM
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I rode a very similar route from Sioux City to Yankton this past summer. I stuck to the highway all the way IA12 to 50 and then 50 all the way into Yankton As I left Yankton the following morning the were in the process of repaving the first 15 miles west out of Yankton, yep, I had to ride 15 miles on grooved pavement, talk about fun. It's not a bad route, along the river might be better, who knows. Since your pretty much in the middle of nowhere you don't have much traffic to deal with. Since I was heading on up into Mitchell I stuck with 50 until I got to SD37.
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Old 01-27-16, 01:39 PM
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Check with BRAN, the (wonderful) Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska www.bran-inc.org, for route advice. They happened to be going our way at the beginning of our first big bike tour, and they have great routes, selected for good riding conditions.
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