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43-TheNeedlesHwyJuly2022

The Needles:

This is a twisty narrow road up and down and is a full loop coming back to Hwy16. Very neat rock formations before the first tunnel that we came to, which is 8'6" wide. Nice pullout area for photo taking before going through the tunnel. There was a group of motorcycle riders there that were having a hoot of time. Riding into the tunnel popping wheelies and just flat having a good time. Got to watch a fellow pull a short Airstream trailer through the tunnel, and he had about 3" of clearance on each side of his trailer. We made our way down the road, taking pics at pullouts. A very nice scenic drive for sure.

This drive was awe inspiring for me. The absolute grandeur is hard to share via words or pictures, an area that a person has to experience in person. We didn’t see any wildlife on our drive through the area, but I am sure there are lots of wildlife viewing opportunities in the area.

From Needles Highway: Explore a Natural Wonder at Custer State Park (travelsouthdakota.com):

The Needles at Custer State Park have become one of the park’s biggest attractions. These soaring, slender granite rock formations attract visitors from near and far alike. Hike through Custer State Park and see the Needles for yourself. This attraction has also become a popular rock-climbing spot. Looking for incredible views? Needles Highway features 14 miles of scenic views through Custer State Park. Check out these famed natural structures as you cruise past forests, meadows, mountains and Sylvan Lake.

Sylvan Lake

Quite likely South Dakota's most posted lake, this jewel has served as the beautiful backdrop for countless events, weddings and even for climactic Nicolas Cage adventures in the 2007 blockbuster National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. It also serves as a trailhead for great Black Hills hiking trails like Sunday Gulch and Little Devils Tower. Besides social media influencers, movie stars and hikers, Sylvan Lake is also popular with families looking for a place to swim and anglers looking to land a rainbow trout.

Cathedral Spires Trail

The Cathedral Spires are a part of the Needles formations and the inspiration for Mount Rushmore. The same view that inspired Doane Robinson marks the beginning of the Cathedral Spires Trail, a 1.6-mile trail that's more moderate and approachable than its "difficult" rating suggests and takes you right through the iconic formations.

Needle's Eye

There's no doubt where the name comes for this iconic formation comes from once you see it (and it's easy to find right along SD Hwy 87). Rock climbers looking for a serious challenge can often be found taking it on.

Sylvan Lake Lodge

This historic lodge and collection of cabins deep in Custer State Park overlook Sylvan Lake — one of Custer State Park's most beautiful gems. Making basecamp from here, one is within walking distance of trails like Sunday Gulch and the Sylvan Lake Shore before continuing to others like Little Devils Tower, Cathedral Spires, or Black Elk Peak.

Needle's Eye Tunnel

A distinct formation in the granite that looks like the eye of a giant's rock needle marks one of the more popular pullouts along the scenic Needles Highway (SD Hwy 87 North). Many like to stop and watch in disbelief as family haulers — and even some specialized commercial busses — squeeze through the 8' 9" wide by 9’8" high tunnel.

Rock-Climbing the Needles

If you're ready for a truly amazing adventure, climb the Needles! The guides at Sylvan Rocks can supply all the climbing gear and guidance you need, whether you're a beginner or experienced climber. To look out over Custer State Park from the top of these unique rock formations is an experience that won't soon be forgotten.

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