Things to Do in South Dakota

Needles Highway, South Dakota: Address, Phone Number, Needles Highway Reviews: 5/5

Needles Highway
5
Write a review
About
This scenic drive passes by tall rock formations and through tunnels.
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
Top ways to experience Needles Highway
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

5.0
921 reviews
Excellent
791
Very good
111
Average
13
Poor
4
Terrible
2

SneakinDeacon
Christiansburg, VA1,374 contributions
Jun 2021
Words can not describe just how amazing the Needles Highway is. This thrilling road runs through Custer State Park, but the entry fee is worth every penny. I entered the Needles Highway off U. S. Highway 385 just a few miles from the Crazy Horse Memorial. Soon after entering the park the amazing views began. Do not do this drive unless you have plenty of time because you will be constantly stopping for photos and to take in the wonderful views. Sylvan Lake great but just a prelude to what is to come as you wind your way through the rocky landscape toward Cathedral Spires. Along the way you will move slowly through the Needles Eye Tunnel which is simple unbelievable. I traveled the Needles Highway all the way through from Highway 385 to U. S. Highway 16-A. Even Though it is only distance of about 20 or 25 miles the journey took me a little over two hours as I was treated to spectacular beauty at every turn and kept stopping for pictures. Along the way, I saw a variety of wildlife including deer, a bear and buffalo. This is one of the most amazing drives in the country and should be done when you have plenty of time.
Written March 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MCH65
American Fork, UT333 contributions
Sep 2020
If you are anywhere near the Needles Senic Highway, you have got to spend a little time to make the drive. The highway itself could take a few hours to drive, so if you only have a short amount of time, cut off from Custer SD and head towards Sylvan lake and at least drive to the first tunnel and the overlook a short distance from the tunnel. We were short on time, it was getting dark, but we still made the effort to detour and I am so glad we did. The granite formations were like nothing else i have ever seen. The views were spectacular and Sylvan lake was awesome, especailly at sunset. Its not to far from Custer (the city not the park) We maybe spent an hour on the road here, but what we saw was spectacular. Wish we had time to make the drive along the entire highway. There is a fee for this area becsue it is part of Custer State Park, but well worth the $20 admission fee to spend some time in the park and along this beautiful highway. When I say highway, its not a freeway, its a narrow 2 lane road but easy to drive. There are some restrictions on the senic highway due to tunnels and narrow roads.
Written September 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ELKW
United States11,496 contributions
Aug 2020
This is one of the scenic drive with attractions that are inside the Custer State park area, if you touring the attractions there, you need to pay the $20 admission fee of Custer state park (although if you just drive through, without stop, is no need to pay). There are 3 tunnels along this highway, from North to South is Hood tunnel, then Needle eye tunnel, then Iron Creek tunnel. Besides the rock tunnels, there are some other attractions, such the Sylvan lake, the "Eye" of the Needle (or the "Needle Eye") rock formation, the Cathedral Spires trail, all is worthwhile to take a look.
Written February 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Burger Hat Summers
Metro Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN228 contributions
Jul 2019
I love the Needles Highway, dear readers.

Love it.

Sure, it costs 20 bucks if you want to check it out, but that is good for a week and, I think, should be budgeted in for anyone looking to hit the Black Hills.

And when you do hit it, take your time. Linger. Make stops to get out and wander where you can. It is just beautiful and there are many trails in the area for you to explore. All of Custer State Park, actually. So get that pass and use it.

I'll admit, there were a few butt puckering legs of the highway coming around corners and meeting other vehicles, to be sure. Overall, however, the drive wasn't too bad for our Traverse to handle. I don't know that I would want to attempt it in something pulling a camper or anything like that. Actually, I'm not sure you CAN do that as the tunnels would prevent that. Older vehicles might also struggle at a few points, but I'm sure most people will be fine.

Lots of motorcycles cruise this highway, which I have to imagine is a really fun way to do it.

While there are a variety of places to pull over and take a gander at the wide world around you, we found the little spot West of of Sylvan Lake that had some of the best views. Every one of these stops has something special to offer, I’m sure, but we did not stop at ALL of them. But you should pull over now and then to appreciate the views. I found, as I was driving and paying diligent attention to the road, I could not personally drink in all there was to see, but the family had a good gander out the windows. A few times my eyes would wander and a turn in the road would make my heart skip a beat for a second, reminding me to keep my damn eyes on the road.

Not far off the highway, and if you do explore the trails around Sylvan Lake, you are very closes to the highest point in the Black Hills, Black Elk Peak. From the Sylvan Lake lodge, it is just over 4 miles, so if you feel like a hike, you should check it out.

Treat yourself to this one, friends. After hours of driving across the planes to GET here it is nice to enjoy some topography. Please note: This road closes in the late fall through spring.
Written January 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Disneybus
Pittsgrove, NJ729 contributions
Jun 2021
Fantastic ride! The views, turns, and shouts kept coming! Around every turn you'll see beautiful sites of the Black Hills, from rolling hills to the famous Needles rock formations. This is one of Peter Norbeck's engineering marvel highways, the others being Iron Mountain and the Wildlife loop roads. Be sure to stop at the many cutoffs to marvel in the scenery and take those photos. The highlights are the needles rock formation along with the carved out tunnels. Be patient waiting in line to pass through the tunnels; if you are impatient it will lessen your experience but we found it rather fun jockeying for position. Some travelers have a person jump out on the opposite side to get pictures of their car coming through. It can be a challenging ride for some, but we found it very manageable. The only problem was trying to drive while engaging in the sites, that's why pulling over is necessary.
Written July 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Richard K
Yakima, WA340 contributions
May 2021
We were lucky enough to go through here in May before the heavy tourist season. This is a must do drive if you are visiting Mount Rushmore. Plan on taking a couple of hours at least so you can stop often and hike and take pictures. The rock formations are pretty spectacular and the views phenomenal. You go through roughly ten one-way tunnels. These are hewn through the solid rock and each one is an experience to go through. Two of them were specifically designed and placed to give you a view of Mount Rushmore when you look through one end of the tunnel. This is a very windy road so be prepared to take your time and be aware if you get car sick easily. One of the highlights of our trip.
Written May 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

RYC88
Centreville, VA1,079 contributions
Jul 2021
The fun twists and turns and great tunnels and beautiful scenery make this a must-do road. It's a great part of the loop that you can take from Mt. Rushmore to the Crazy Horse Memorial and then down to Custer State Park. There are plenty of places to pull over and see the wonderful spires and interesting rock formations. Plus, the tunnels are so much fun to go through and it's also fun to just watch the big pick-ups have to fold in their rearview mirrors to get through.
Written August 9, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Amie
Indianapolis, IN9 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
Truly unique road, very twisty and unlike any road I’ve been on. It was very busy mid June during a weekday afternoon. There was heavy traffic coming from both directions through a one way tunnel. Huge tour buses were barely making it through. We parked, walked to see the mess of traffic and people then turned around the other direction. Really need someone directing traffic bc people were not taking turns. Still a beautiful landscape!
Written August 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

S L
New York City, NY145 contributions
Oct 2020
It's a beautiful drive that rewards you with breathtaking views and keeps your heart racing the entire ride - not just from the beauty, but also because of the heights.

We decided to take this scenic drive to Sylvan Lake, and I'm so glad we had - even though I'm terrified of heights and literally closed my eyes briefly at a couple of spots.

So this is an absolutely amazing drive. The view at the top was absolutely stunning! And the view coming out of the second tunnel (going towards Sylvan Lake) was so impressive! If you take the drive from this direction, I recommend slowing down to pull over coming out.

The entire drive was just so rewarding. However, you need to be ready to drive with the feeling that you can go off the cliff at times. It's pretty narrow and winding for the most part.
Written October 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nyormirror
Bay City, MI1,222 contributions
Aug 2020
The different and spectacular views of 14 mile section of SD 87 offers wilderness, rock formations, wildlife, water and much more. Switchbacks, tight turns, narrow tunnels and world class views are everything you can expect. The roads name comes from the needle-like granite formations that pierce the horizon along the highway.

The speeds are usually 25 mph or less and the travel time is 45 minutes to an 1 hour without stops. Needles Highway is not RV friendly. I would definitely recommend and would return.
Written September 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Showing results 1-10 of 895
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Frequently Asked Questions about Needles Highway

We recommend booking Needles Highway tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 12 Needles Highway tours on Tripadvisor