Sunday, June 24, 2012

Needles Highway, Custer State Park, SD

Since Rick and I have been traveling full time in our motorhome, Lucy, we have been to many states and seen many beautiful places. We are licensed in the state of South Dakota but have not spent any time here until this week. It’s a gorgeous place, especially this area of the Black Hills. The people are friendly and there is much to see and do here. Imagine my surprise when we see that we are almost the only South Dakota residents in this entire RV park! There are RV’s from as far away as Alaska, but it’s rare to find one from South Dakota. I guess it’s true that most people never get around to exploring things in their own back yard. If you haven’t, as yet, explored this area, put it on your bucket list. You will be happy you did.

In my last post, I mentioned stopping in Custer, SD for a short walk around town before continuing on to see Crazy Horse. Sherry of In the Direction of our Dreams fame, commented about how much she had liked the painted Buffalo that are on display on street corners in Custer when she and David traveled through here a year ago. I had forgotten to post those pictures. I had added them to my Facebook page but missed putting them on the blog. So Sherry, here’s a couple of my favorites, just for you :)

2012-06-20 14.50.13

2012-06-20 15.00.02

They are pretty cool, aren’t they? There is a similar display in Raleigh, NC with artistically done wolves. Also pretty neat.

The next excursion on our list was the famous Needles Highway. What a beautiful drive!

Deemed “impossible” to construct by its critics, the Needles highway—a National Scenic Byway—was completed in 1922 and includes 14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels, and impressive granite spires. The road lies within the 73,000 acre Custer State Park, just 30 miles south of Rapid City.

The beginning of our drive


Beautiful rock formations that pale to the formations further up


The first of our tunnels and the largest.


Beautiful Sylvan Lake


Entrance to another tunnel


View from the top


Beautiful rock formations right on the road as we start down


Lots of hairpin curves and switchbacks


with beautiful spires to guide your way.


The road is narrow but paved. Seldom is there any center line markings. There are some steep drop offs and it is not a road to drive if you’re in any kind of hurry. It is also not the road to drive  if narrow, winding, drop off roads scare you. Seriously. Take a bus tour. The scariest part of this drive was meeting scared people. Scared people drive right down the middle of the road…because they are too afraid not to. That leaves those of us meeting them very little road. There are bus tours running every day. This is a scenic drive not to be missed but why not leave the driving to them? OK. ‘Nuff said. That was my mini rant of the day :)

Next up: Sturgis and Deadwood. See you then and thanks for stopping by. Turtle


  1. We fell in love with South Dakota when we were there a few years ago (before RV!). We can't wait to be able to become residents this year :)

  2. We loved the Dakotas as well. Absolutely spectacular landscapes!! Just so much beautiful land and so few people.

    I played the slot machine in the Deadwood Grocery Store and won more than enough to pay for our groceries;o)) Good Luck!!

  3. Those spires are incredible! And yes, the narrow winding roads aren't for those who want to take their half of the road out of the middle.

  4. Thanks Gail, it's on my list! Oh and we met Judy and Dick Mott last week...great folks! Said they found our blog through your cool is that??

    1. Well, that is very cool! Dick and Judy and Rick and I have been trying to connect in person for over a year now, I think. We'll make it one of these days, I'm sure of it!

  5. Love the pics of the painted buffalo! Looks like you are in another beautifu part of our country!

  6. That is why those roads are perfect for motorcycles. Beautiful pics!

  7. Loved that drive. Isn't it the one that has those very famous bridges. I can't remember what they are called but they were marvels at the time and are still really interesting.

    Great tour! And thanks for the shout out! They didn't have the Skeleton Buffalo when we were there. Glad to see that one.

    1. I'm not sure if it's actually still Needles Highway or not but if it isn't it's right on the edge :) I think what you're referring to is 16A. There are one lane wooden bridges that are very cool, not unlike the one lane rock tunnels of Needles :)

  8. We're on the way, should be there July 1. We've already signed up for the bus tour. I can't wait to see the area.

  9. That second buffalo is hilarious on first glance. And then one realizes it tells the story of the near-extinction of these beasts all those years ago. At least that's my impression.

  10. Needles Highway is one of my all time favorite drives. Love how they cut the road through the rocks in some places. Wonder how many times the buses got stuck in one of them.

  11. Love roads like that! Thanks going on my list. Needless highway cool.


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