Black Hills National Forest Scenic Driving Overview

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Black Hills National Forest Highlights

  • The 20-mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway south of Spearfish along Highway 14A takes you through the narrow, wooded canyon. About seven miles into the canyon, pull over the see Spearfish Creek tumble 40 feet at the elegant Bridal Veil Falls.
  • At Eleventh Hour Gulch—so steep and narrow, it's said to receive its first sunlight at 11 a.m.—stop to admire the two prominent boulders known as Kissing Rocks. The lovers settled into their adjacent positions as the result of a fierce rock slide. Look for them after mile marker 19.
  • Don't stop when the Scenic Byway ends at Highway 85. Go east 2.5 miles, then north on Forest Road 194 to climb Terry Peak. The rugged road sneaks you up behind the ski runs on the hill's north face, and a lookout at the summit offers panoramic Black Hills views.
  • Reach the 70-mile Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway heading south from Keystone on Highway 16. The route follows a double loop through Custer State Park, along several crystal blue lakes, and past a pile of South Dakota rocks called Mount Rushmore—perhaps you've heard of it?
  • Take your time along Highway 87 between Sylvan and Center Lakes, an area known as the Needles Highway. The winding road leads through a forest of hoodoo-like granite formations popular with both rock climbers and sightseers.

You'll find two first-class scenic drives in the Black Hills, both very distinctive. The bucolic Spearfish Canyon drive travels through the bottom of a canyon. You'll be looking up at richly layered canyon walls, patched with vegetation usually found in four different ecozones. The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is an electrifying turn through rugged granite outcroppings, traveling over hairpin curves and tunnels placed to frame features of Mount Rushmore.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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