The Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota has many very unique places to visit and one incredible area is along Hwy 87. This one 14 mile stretch of road is called the Needles Highway that takes you through a region of eroded granite, spires, towers and pillars like you have never seen before.
The Cathedral Spires
This area was first considered for Mt Rushmore but was rejected by the sculpture for being a poor quality of granite and the pillars were too thin to support the planned sculptures.
The Needles Highway
The Needles Highway is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, which also passes through the Custer State Park. You will need your State Park Pass to travel this road.
Climbers at the top of a Needle
There are climbers on several of the peaks, it just makes me cringe to see them up on top but I also envy the view they must be enjoying. There is a school that will teach you, the Sylvan Rocks Climbing School. If you’re going to do it, learn to do it safely.
Close-up of the Needles
This close-up shows the balancing that some of these formations are doing, it makes us wonder how it could have stayed up there for zillions of years like that.
More beautiful Needles
We had the most incredible weather while we visited the area and there was not one cloud in the sky. It makes the pillars stand up tall with no clouds for them to disappear into.
A most scenic drive on the Needles Highway
Every corner we turned on that windy road, we’d see another incredible sight! The size of these needles were something and all so close to the road, it was impossible to drive and enjoy the view at the same time. We would have to pull over at every pullout to get a better look at them.
Amidst the Needles
We were right in the middle of this group of pillars, but it gave us no temptations to climb! We were just there to enjoy the needles, the incredible forms that make up this part of the Black Hills.
Cycling the Needles Highway
This area is very accessible for the tourists by vehicle, motorcycle or bikes. Hikers would love this area, too.
Narrow tunnels on Needles Highway
There are signs that will warn you the size of the tunnel and we did decide not to go through one of them, it didn’t give us enough room to feel safe for trying. At least without pulling the RV, we had room to turn around. We weren’t going to experience another tight fit going thru a tunnel, once was enough. Tourist information can tell you the size of each tunnel so you would know before you drive this way.
Sylvan Lake was formed from damming at the rivers end. There is swimming and fishing in the lake, although in separate areas, and there are usually many people in the park.
Rock formations at Sylvan Lake
The rocks are a great place for the visitors to climb, and while we were there we saw several people soaking up the sunshine on the rocks over the lake. This is also a place to begin your hike in one of many directions. There are so many places to visit in the Black Hills National Forest that it would be impossible to name only one favorite. You must make sure you have enough time to enjoy all of it and I do believe you would agree with me when you visit this incredible area that you wish you had time to see more.