Top Scenic Routes in the Black Hills
Top Scenic Routes in the Black Hills
Planning a weekend getaway or a road trip to South Dakota? We have compiled a list of the best scenic routes in the Black Hills to make your next road trip truly unforgettable. Aside from the area’s top attractions, the Black Hills is filled with natural beauty and a sprawling, unique landscape that is unlike any other. Luckily, the Black Hills is crisscrossed with routes to explore and can be enjoyed without leaving your car. Looking for a place to stay after a full day of driving? Liv Hospitality, LLC provides convenient and comfortable accommodations throughout the Black Hills to keep you close to the scenic routes. Get ready to set your GPS, roll your windows down, and enjoy the scenic drives of the Black Hills. We can’t wait for your arrival!
Skyline Drive is a two-mile, curvy but scenic road located in the heart of Rapid City. With several
parking areas, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the city, and the Black Hills as the backdrop.
2. Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway
The 70-mile byway was named after South Dakota conservationist, Peter Norbeck, who surveyed roads and created a figure-eight route in the Black Hills. The byway is made up of a series of roads including Highways 16A, 244, 89, and 87 that travel through parts of Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Black Elk National Wilderness Area, and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve.
3. Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway
Experience the dramatic landscapes and breathtaking rock formations that make up the Badlands National Park. The 39-mile loop consists of 16 scenic overlooks and is home to many species of wildlife including buffalo, bighorn sheep, deer, antelope, and prairie dogs.
4. Custer State Park Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway
Custer State Park is South Dakota’s largest and first state park offering abundant wildlife and natural Black Hills beauty. Take your time driving on the 18-mile Wildlife Loop to enjoy the surreal views and the nearly 1,300 buffalo that share the park with mountain goats, antelope, elk, and begging burros. The park is famous for its welcoming burros as they approach visitors of passing cars expecting food. Do not be surprised if a burro sneaks its head into your car window in hopes of finding a snack!
5. Needles Highway/Needle’s Eye
Needles Highway includes 14 miles of scenic twists, turns, and narrow tunnels nestled in the pine and spruce forests of Custer State Park. Do not worry – the speed limit is generally 25 mph or slower. The road earned its name from its needlelike granite peaks that align the highway, with one rock formation called the Needle’s Eye. This incredible drive is bucket-list worthy and will be remembered long after your trip.
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a hidden gem in the Black Hills. This 22-mile journey is filled with stunning views, waterfalls, hiking trails, and thousand-foot-high limestone mountains. The Canyon is a must see any time during the year, but Fall season is notable when the foliage turns to beautiful shades of yellow, gold, and red.
Located near the Wyoming border, Devil’s Tower is composed of igneous rock that stands tall in the open prairie surrounding the Black Hills. The formation contains hundreds of parallel cracks that are perfect for climbing. To get the full experience and best views, we recommend starting your journey west on I-90 towards Belle Fourche, SD, then connecting to Hwy 34 towards Hulett, WY, and making your way south to the Tower. As you get closer, the Tower will peak across the rolling plains. Make sure you stop to get plenty of pictures!
8. US HWY 385
If you are searching for a scenic drive that takes you through the Black Hills with many tourist attractions along the way, Hwy 385 or better known as the “Black Hills Parkway” is your go-to route. The drive takes you through the ponderosa pines between Deadwood, SD and Custer, SD with countless trails, shops, museums, and restaurants along the way.
Iron Mountain Road is a winding 17-mile mountain road with 314 curves, 14 hairpin turns, 3 pigtail bridges, and 3 single-lane tunnels. Built in 1933 by Peter Norbeck, this spectacular drive provides some of the best scenic views of Mount Rushmore at a slow pace of around 25 mph or slower. Wildlife including elk, bighorn sheep, bison, and mountain goats can also be seen along the route.
The beauty and scenery of Vanocker Canyon Road is very similar to the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and is known to be a favorite route for motorcyclists. The best part? No large crowds or sharp turns. This route cuts through the aspen and pine of the Northern Black Hills and provides some of the area’s best views.
Want to track and plan your routes in the Black Hills? Download the Rever App here to help with navigation, route planning, and much more!
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