Fall scenic byways in the Black Hills!


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We are a little partial to the beauty that we are lucky enough to live in around here. And, while we think the Black Hills are beautiful year round, we think they are especially lovely during this time of year. The green pines are highlighted with the golden glow of red and yellow aspen, maple, and oak trees. You too can enjoy the beauty of fall in western South Dakota. Check out a few of our favorite scenic drives through the beautiful Black Hills!

The Peter Norbeck Scenic byway

The Needles Highway (SD 87), Iron Mountain Road (US 16A), Horse Thief Lake Road (SD 244), and Sylvan Lake Road (SD 89) make up this oval-shaped route through the most rugged real estate in the Black Hills. The Norbeck Byway includes picturesque scenery including scenic lakes, towering granite spires and rock walls, six picture-perfect tunnels, hairpin curves, and a cruise on the spiral “pigtail” bridges. This beautiful drive also includes a ride through the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, Black Elk National Wilderness Area, and Custer State Park. There are plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and enjoy the scenery with picnic areas, hiking trails, babbling brooks and rock climbing dotting the route.

Plan on spending at least a half a day just to drive the route, but you can easily fill an entire day on this scenic byway.  Taking the extra time will allow you to explore some of the highlights, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and down the road is Harney Peak is the highest peak east of the Rockies at a towering 7, 242-feet. Sylvan Lake, the Needle’s Eye, and Cathedral Spires rock formations are also along needles highway in Custer State Park.

This beautiful byway is named after late South Dakota conservationist, Governor and U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck. His vision inspired building and preserving Custer State Park, Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. All of these landmarks and state parks exist today because of Norbeck’s dedication to the land and environment. Norbeck also helped establish the Federal Duck Stamp Program, Badlands National Monument, and Grand Teton National Park.

Boulder Canyon Road

The high-walled valley road (US Hwy 14A) between legendary Sturgis and historic Deadwood provides a short, yet sweet, 12-mile drive with niches of colorful autumn views. It’s a relaxing interlude before the excitement of a night of Deadwood gaming and dining. Or you can catch Interstate 90 at Sturgis Exit 30 for a quick jaunt back to Rapid City.

 U.S. Highway 385

Sometimes referred to as the Black Hills Parkway, U.S. Highway 385 is one of the easiest ways to get a taste of the beauty the Black Hills National Forest has to offer. This looped highway system will take you from the Northern Hills, to the Central and Southern Hills, and back again. You’ll wind through dense Ponderosa pines and around scenic mountain lakes as you travel this north-south route through the heart of the Hills.

Plan to stop  in one or more of the picturesque towns along the way – Hill City, Custer, Hot Springs, Deadwood, and Lead. Sheridan Lake and Pactola Reservoir are also beautiful stops along the way anytime of the year!  Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a beautiful day in the Black Hills!


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