Through spindly rock sculptures and past herds of grazing bison is South Dakota’s Needles Highway. Our neighbor to the north is known for its monuments, but most don’t know about the scenic drive that connects them. Another one of the hidden treasures in the US, the Needles Highway stretches 40 miles from one memorial to the next creating the perfect weekend drive. You’ll begin the journey at the Crazy Horse Memorial. Still a work in progress, the finished product will represent Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear riding horseback, surveying his lands. Started in 1948, the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s family continues to chip and carve at the massive rock. This means you could take this trip once a year, and watch the progress!
Now it’s time to take that performance vehicle for a stroll along Highway 87 through the majestic Black Hills. And we’re not kidding when we say stroll – the speed limit is 35mph! The reason? This part of the scenic drive goes through ponderosa pines, granite outcroppings, and pastures of grazing bison, antelope, deer, and elk. You wouldn’t want your baby-on-wheels to meet one of those head on! After strolling down Hwy 87 for fourteen miles, you’ll find yourselves in Custer State Park. Home to the largest herd of bison outside of Yellowstone, you can explore in the shadow of Harney Peak, whose altitude is between the Rockies and the Swiss Alps at 7,242 feet. It’s in this shadow you’ll find the cathedral spires, one of the most popular attractions in the park. These needle-like spires that rise from the forest floor, as well as many others, are what give the Needles Highway its name.
The final leg of this journey through South Dakota takes you down Iron Mountain Road or US 16A. At seventeen miles long, it’s known to be a winding view-worthy drive – perfect for your performance vehicle. In fact, it’s been called a historic work of art that’s made to slow you down. Iron Mountain Road is also known for its one-lane tunnels and wooden spiral-shaped “pigtail” bridges. These are what frame the way to Mount Rushmore. The road is known to have 314 curves, 3 tunnels, 3 pigtails, and much more.
South Dakota’s Needles Highway is perfect for the weekend travelers looking to slow down. Enjoy feeling your European performance vehicle hugging every curve and winding through nature. There’s still more open road to explore – wait until you see where we take you next!