This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota. To start at the beginning, go HERE. The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE!
After spending the morning at Mt. Rushmore, we headed over to Custer State Park. Let me say before I begin this post, that I thought Custer State Park was the best and most beautiful state park I had ever seen. We had two and a half days to spend in this magnificent park and we crammed a lot into those two days. I will be dividing the two days into five separate blog posts so I can cover everything in great detail.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Custer State Park was to drive. Even though there are lots of hiking trails, and we did hike a lot in our two days there, you can see some of the most amazing views right from your car. The two best scenic drives to take are Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road.
Needles Highway is a National Scenic Byway completed in 1922. It is 14 miles long and has views of Mt. Rushmore (often seen through tunnels), and magnificent views of the "Needles" or granite spires of Custer State Park.
After visiting the Mt. Rushmore Memorial it was amazing seeing all the different views of the monument in Custer State Park. It really gives you perspective on the sheer size of the sculpture. Can you see the presidents faces in the pictures below?
This is a picture of some of the spires that made Needles Highway famous.
There are many spots and parking lots where you can stop and get out of your car and enjoy the views. Some of the spots are really crowded (like the Cathedral Spires) and it's hard to find a parking space.
Iron Mountain Road is another scenic drive not to be missed. This road was constructed in 1933 and runs between Mt. Rushmore Memorial and the US16A and SD36 in Custer State Park. The Black Hills Scenery is simply magnificent on this road, but perhaps the most impressive of all is how the tunnels "frame" Mt. Rushmore. It was so cool driving through a tunnel and seeing a perfect view of the monument. I was so impressed! Unfortunately I never got a picture of Mt. Rushmore "framed" in a tunnel as I was too busy "Oohing" and "Ahhing" but you can check it out on this website.
I loved all the unique rock formations found on both scenic roads.
And finally, here is a picture of a one lane tunnel. Cars coming from the other direction have to wait their turn. The space is very tight. The pick up truck in front of us could barely fit through. If you stuck your hand out the window you could touch the rock. It was such a cool experience.
Before I close I should mention that there are two other scenic drives in Custer State Park. The most famous one: Wildlife Loop Road I will cover in a later post. The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is also a lovely drive. The Peter Norbeck Byway is two to three hours long if you drive the entire road. It consists of a loop made up of four highways (Needles, SD89, SD244, and Iron Mountain Road).
Have A Great Day! Amy
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