"One of the Most Outstanding Drives in America"—Cruising the Iconic Needles Highway | Black Hills Travel Blog

"One of the Most Outstanding Drives in America"—Cruising the Iconic Needles Highway

  • "One of the Most Outstanding Drives in America"—Cruising the Iconic Needles Highway
    "One of the Most Outstanding Drives in America"—Cruising the Iconic Needles Highway
Updated: 
Thursday, June 24, 2021
By : 
Alyssa

Considered one of the most outstanding drives in America, Needles Highway showcases the best of the Black Hills along every curve, tunnel and bridge. Rather than shaped naturally, the iconic route was built by Scovel Johnson (using over 150,000 pounds of dynamite) and commissioned by former South Dakota governor Peter Norbeck. Every curve of the 14 mile drive through Custer State Park is specially constructed to take drivers right along magnificent rock formations and the ancient granite pinnacles know as the Needles. 

To enhance your drive, continue on Iron Mountain Road to complete the entire Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. The phenomenal route passes through six rock tunnels, crosses three unique pigtail bridges and provides sweeping views of Sylvan Lake, Black Elk Peak, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills National Forest. Download the Black Hills Map to see the full byway and more. 

Along your drive, make sure to take it slow—the road was built to be taken at a leisurely 20 miles per hour. As Senator Peter Norbeck explained, "this is not meant to be a superhighway, to do the scenery justice you should drive no more than 20 mph..." There are several pull-offs along the way to admire the landmarks on the drive like the Needles Eye. To see the Needles up close, get off the road and hop onto the Cathedral Spires hiking trail. And make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife venturing through the Black Hills National Forest. Elk, deer, mountain goats and more are common roadside sights. There's so much to see, so enjoy the cruise!

For more iconic Black Hills and Badlands drives, take a look at our Scenic Drives & Byways page.

You May Also Be interested In

Black Hills & Badlands is prioritizing safe travel.

Learn more at BlackHillsBadlands.com/TRAVELSAFE.