The road from New York to South Dakota through Canada wasn’t the most exciting one. Throughout 2 000 miles (3218 km) and eight states, most of the routes were straight like a stretched wire. The views along the way also did not take our breath away, apart from attractions such as the Niagara Falls, Lake Erie or the architecture of New York and Chicago. Beyond that, the landscape remained pretty much the same and we were mostly admiring the endless corn fields and black cows on pasture. And then we entered South Dakota and finally experienced the Wild West and the first windy road, the well-known Needles Highway.
The Needless Highway is a part of the South Dakota Highway 87 and goes through the Black Hills mountain range and Custer State Park. It is also a section of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, which is 109 km long, is in shape of the 8 and runs along the high granite peaks, pine forests, tunnels and rock formations.
The Needles Highway offers 23 kilometers of fun ride on the narrow, winding road that cuts rocky walls with tunnels, all along surrounded by granite towers. The Needle’s Eye tunnel is a mandatory place to stop and take photos. It’s so popular that sometimes you may encounter a little traffic jam there.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally also brings many riders to the Needless Highway every year. It has been taking place in the Black Hills for more than 70 years and still enjoys a great popularity.
The road is open from April to mid-October or depending on weather conditions. You have to pay an entrance fee to the Caster State Park and in the 2016 the cost for motorcycle was $10 and $20 per car. The ticket is valid 7 days. Quite a few bisons live in the Park. We saw just one resting by the side of the road.
The Black Hills are rich not only in beautiful views, but also a lot of attractions to visit, including the primary one in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Nearly 2 million visitors come every year to see the four heads of the Presidents of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved in the rock.
Half an hour away from Mount Rushmore the Crazy Horse Memorial is located. A massive statue of an Indian Chief, Crazy Horse carved in the rock, which upon completion will be the world’s largest monument! Its length will be 95 m, and the width 172 m. The author of the sculpture is Korczak Ziolkowski, Polish artist who started his extraordinary, hard work in 1948. Today his project is continued by his family, with no Government funding, the whole construction is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
For those, who want to truly experience the Wild West, an interesting place to visit would be the town of Deadwood. After discovering gold in the Black Hills it became the first mining settlement. Deadwood is a place that we know from the movies with gunmen – gamblers, hookers in saloon and duels to the death. All this happened there in the years 1876-1878, during the gold rush. The famous Wild Bill Hickok was shot there, the hero of many novels and movies. You can visit the place where it happened and his grave in Mount Moriah Cemetery. What else in Deadwood? You can visit a museum dedicated to the Black Hills, explore the over 100 years old Broken Boot Gold Mine or go to the downtown to feel the atmosphere of westerns. The old times of this town are brought back by the tv series Deadwood on HBO.
Lake Sylvan, located just by the Needless Highway, is a great place to stop for a picnic or outdoors activities. This is where many walking trails begin to lead you through the scenic hills or rocks, perfect for climbing. You can also rent a small boat to explore the Lake.
Info about The Needles Highway
|Distance||14 miles (23 km)|
|Surface||Paived with very good quality|
|Accessibility||Usually is open from April to the end of mid-October, but can be closed earlier depending on the snowfall|
|Hazards||The narrow way, tight corners, sometimes sand on the road|
|Attractions on the way||Rock tunnels, the town of Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Lake Sylvan|
|Max altitude||1 951 m (6 402 ft) above sea level.|
|Price||$10 for a motorcycle, $20 per car, valid 7 days on all the Custer State Park|
|The Needles Highway road |
South Dakota 87, Custer, Dakota Południowa, Stany Zjednoczone
|The Needle’s Eye Tunnel |
Needles Eye Tunnel, South Dakota 87, Custer, South Dakota, Stany Zjednoczone
|Sylvan Lake |
Sylvan Lake, East Custer, South Dakota, Stany Zjednoczone
|Mount Rushmore National Memorial |
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota 244, Keystone, Dakota Południowa, Stany Zjednoczone
|Crazy Horse Memorial |
Crazy Horse Memorial, 12151 Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730, Stany Zjednoczone
|City of Deadwood |
Deadwood, Dakota Południowa, Stany Zjednoczone