ATV Rally draws about 140 riders

By Jeff Smith

UTV riders on Deerfield Road on the afternoon of Aug. 18. Even though it was windy for most of the day that didn’t stop the riders from going on ATV trails.

Despite there being a windy day on Aug. 18 and rain on Aug.19, the Let’s Ride ATV/UTV Club still held their annual Soggy Bottom Rally.

2018 was the sixth year for the rally. The event has always been held at the Mt. Meadow Store and Campground.

Event organizer Rose Evenson said six years ago the president of the club came up with the idea to promote the event and to give visitors the ride of their lives in the Black Hills.

“Every year it has grown. It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” Evenson said.

She said they like being in the heart of the Hills. They’d love to keep the event in the vicinity of Hill City in the future.

Evenson said the riders like it when it rains out because all of the trails end up muddy. People might come back in with their unit covered in mud and people can’t even tell what color it is.

“In the past we have had a good soggy bottom. It’s been rainy and yucky.” Evenson said.

Managers of Mt. Meadow, Amiee and Donn Laun, had to wake up early on Aug. 18 to help with breakfast. Although it was busy, they were happy that that all of the RV sites and cabins were full.

“It’s been wonderful. Business has been booming and we sold out of our specials in the restaurant,” Amiee Laun said.

In addition to people bringing their ATVs and UTVs people were able to rent them out from Mt. Meadow.

After this event the area will be busy with hunting season and then snowmobile season to follow. Laun said so far the only slow seasons have been March and April.

Everyone rode around the Hills from 9 a.m. to around 4 p.m. on Aug. 18.

There are people who come far and wide to participate in the event. Evenson said they’ve had people from Utah come who want to ride in the Black Hills.

At this year’s event there were people from Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and throughout South Dakota. Visitors to the area were able to see all of the lush vegetation since there has been a lot of rain.

Right now the Let’s Ride ATV/UTV Club has 37 active members.

Last year there were 136 riders who participated in the event. Evenson thought there were more this year and she was right. The final number of registered riders was 141 riders from seven states.

“It’s always a Friday and Saturday. They ride and then we have a band that plays,” Evenson said.

The event is a chance to go see all of the beauty of the rugged Black Hills landscape.

President of the Let’s Ride ATV/ UTV Club Steve Johnson said it was a pretty good rally this year although it went south on Sunday due to the weather.  Johnson said most people got out of the area on Sunday because of the rain.   

He mentioned that they had great prizes for those who came. He estimated there were about $500 worth of cards from businesses.

Earlier in the year, some members of the club took chainsaws and cleared the trails for other riders. Evenson said there are more ATV trails open this year than she has ever seen.

The U.S. Forest Service worked well with the club to communicate with them about opening more trails.

“They have closed some to clean them really good,” Evenson said.

The South Dakota ATV Association works with legislators in Pierre to try to get more trails open for ATV and UTV riders.

Evenson said they do research on a trail before they all ride it. She also mentioned that the Forest Service has a great map of ATV trails. She said the SD ATV Association is working on establishing more ATV trails in the Black Hills since it’s a great place to ride.

Craig Jacobson of Rapid City said a great ride happened last Saturday.

He and a couple of his friends were at the Mt. Meadow restaurant after riding throughout the day. He estimated that their ride was over 50 miles.

“I look forward to this every year,” Jacobson said.

He has been a member of the Let’s Ride ATV/UTV Club for three years.

Jacobson joined to meet people and learn the Hills better.

“There’s always somebody who knows a different trail,” Jacobson said.

Randy Mcfarling stumbled upon the event by accident. He was in the area to ride anyway and met the owner of Pine Rest Cabins, Steve Johnson.

Back in Pierre, Mcfarling is the president of a JEEP club.

He and others went to the Silica Sand Mine and a few other places he said are only accessible by ATV.

“Get an ATV. You’ll have an experience you won’t find anywhere else,” Mcfarling said.

Mcfarling said that he wouldn’t have gone through half of the stuff they went to if it wasn’t for the guide of the group.

“We may have ridden it but it might not have been as a good of a time as what we had today,” Mcfarling said.

He said he saw stuff that he won’t ever see again in his lifetime. Mcfarling said that he will probably be back next year, but he might have to update his four-wheeler if he comes back next year.

Mt. Meadow sponsors the event. In addition to the bands and specials at the restaurant there was a massage therapist at the store this past weekend.

There are a lot of area businesses that gave prizes and gift cards for the event. The South Dakota ATV Association is also a main contributor to the event. The group also sold T-shirts to get their name out there.