Jul 16

Scenic Drives: Custer State Park

Wildlife Loop RoadMany scenic drives can be found in the Custer State Park area of South Dakota and provide a very stark difference to the plains and badlands to the east and the high plains of eastern Wyoming.  If you have the time, we recommend all three of the scenic roads that go through Custer the Wildlife Loop Road, Needles Highway, and Iron Mountain Road.  Karen and I have done all three drives twice in our five year marriage and both trips through have been well worth it.  Though recently our second drive through was not as spectacular due to the fact that the pine and spruce forests have taken a beating over the years by the mountain pine beetle.  Hopefully nature will take its course and the forest will once again restore its self to its scenic past.BisonWe enjoy all three of the scenic drives and each offers a little bit different experience.  The Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park is an 18 mile road that goes through the south portion of Custer State Park.  It goes through open prairies and rolling hills.  Many of Custer State Park’s wildlife can be found along this loop from pronghorn to bison along with the entertaining wild burros that will be looking for a handout, this is probably the best place to see where the wild things roam.  To get the best out of this loop make sure you take it at dusk or dawn when the animals are more active and take one of the hiking trails to really understand the place.Cathedral GroupSD Highway 87, also known as Needles Highway, is the one that was hit the hardest by the mountain pine beetle, but still worth the drive as it winds through 14 miles of granite rock formations or needles.  This scenic drive offers up a little bit of an adventure as it goes through three narrow rock tunnels and makes for some interesting viewing as tour busses pass through it.  It is a very windy road that seems to go on forever though it is only 14 miles and takes you right next to Sylvan Lake which is well worth the stop.Narrow TunnelThe Iron Mountain Road which is US 16A is another wonderful scenic drive in the Custer State Park area.  The Iron Mountain Road offers grand views of Mount Rushmore as you pass through tunnels on your way to or from the monument depending on which direction you are coming from.  Besides the scenic views this road offers the road is also a known as engineering wonder with its three pigtail bridges.  This a great road to take someone that is seeing Mount Rushmore for the first time.Iron Mountain road, SDvia
Custer State Park offers lots of activities and things to do for the active and those that take their adventures from more of a sitting position.  For more information on Custer State Park visit their website at http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/

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  1. freda

    I don’t see how that bus is going to get through those rocks and keep all of its paint and mirrors. Looks impossible to me

    1. Kenny and Karen

      I would not want to be that driver I had a hard enough time with just the Ford Flex

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