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South Dakota

Black Hills Scenic Byways

The best places to see scenery while driving...

The Peter Norbeck and Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byways showcase 90 miles of the Black Hills' most scenic highways. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is renowned for its natural beauty and history framed by towering Paha Sapa limestone canyon walls. The byway follows an old railroad grade that was abandoned after massive flooding in 1933. Vegetation from four distinct plant regions grow in the canyon. Spearfish Creek supports trout brought to the Black Hills from Colorado in 1899. Homestake Mining Company built a power plant and a 12-mile water diversion at Maurice. Old rail stops and mining camps include Savoy and Elmore. Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls add to the canyon's charm. The byway is a favorite fall tour with many people when the aspen turns in September.

Named for South Dakota's former governor and US Senator, the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway offers 70 miles of outstanding sights including Mount Rushmore, The Needles Highway, Iron Mountain Road and Custer State Park. Visitors may spot mountain goats, bison, deer, elk, bighorn sheep and turkey.

Favorite sights along the Byway include the Needles and Cathedral Spires, pigtail bridges and rock tunnels, historic resorts including the State Game Lodge and Sylvan Lake Lodge, several lakes, and Norbeck overlook with views of Harney Peak and Mount Rushmore. Several of the trailheads lead into the backcountry of Norbeck Wildlife Preserve and Black Elk Wilderness

Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

follows Spearfish Creek and US Highway 14A between Spearfish and Cheyenne Crossing for a distance of 20 miles. The byway offers spectacular views of ancient limestone cliffs, pine clad hillsides, aspen-covered slopes, and creek-side spruce. Since the byway follows Spearfish Creek, road grades are gentle. The upper five miles of the route is narrower but is suitable for recreational vehicles and motor homes. The posted speed limit is 35 mph. Elevation ranges from 3,800 feet on the north end to 5,300 feet on the south end, so you can expect a variety of weather and driving conditions. The byway is a popular fall-color drive in late September and early October, so allow plenty of time for the traffic and photo stops.

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

near Custer and Hill City consists of two loops totaling 70 miles of great scenery. The byway comprises parts of US Highway 16A and SD Highways 87, 89, and 244. Although the entire byway is paved, much of it is narrow, with a speed limit of 35 mph. There are numerous winding sections and some switchbacks where the speed drops to 10 mph. Shoulders are narrow as well. SD Highway 244 is the widest section of the byway, but the entire route is suitable for motor homes. There are several short tunnels, the narrowest being 10 feet wide. The Norbeck Byway includes the Needles Highway (SD 87) and the Iron Mountain Road (US 16A), which includes three pigtail bridges that circle a full 360 degrees.

The route connects Mount Rushmore with Custer State Park and completely encircles the 13,605-acre Black Elk Wilderness.

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Viewed from the top of Little Devil’s Tower, the Cathedral Spires jut impressively from the Black Hills National Forest. Custer State Park encompasses these spectacular rock formations, thick timber and expansive prairie landscapes.
Viewed from the top of Little Devil’s Tower, the Cathedral Spires jut impressively from the Black Hills National Forest. Custer State Park encompasses these spectacular rock formations, thick timber and expansive prairie landscapes.

   
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Source: USDA Forest Service; South Dakota Tourism; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20060611
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