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The Native American Scenic Byway cuts through South Dakota's mixed-grass prairie as it follows the Missouri River's path through the heart of the Great Sioux Nation. The route winds through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. In 1804 and 1806, the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery reported seeing an abundance of wildlife when they passed through this area. Today, your chances of spotting prairie dogs, pronghorn and deer as you drive the byway are still good. Several tribes also maintain bison and elk herds. Besides the animals, you'll be captivated by the wild, rugged country, much of which remains undeveloped. The route begins near Running Water, in the southeastern part of the state.
The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway offers breathtaking views of some of the Black Hills ’ most stunning scenery. The popular Needles Highway (SD 87) and Iron Mountain Road (US 16A) are both part of the byway. Needles Highway features tunnels, hairpin curves and slender granite pinnacles. Three granite tunnels on Iron Mountain Road frame the faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the distance. Also on the 70-mile route are a series of pigtail bridges, built in the 1930s, which have a corkscrew shape.
Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest Service Scenic Byway cuts through the towering limestone cliffs of Spearfish Canyon, near Spearfish, in the northern Black Hills. This 20-mile route (US 14A) follows Spearfish Creek along the canyon bottom. Bridal Veil and Roughlock Falls are highlights along the route. Autumn is an optimum time to drive the route, as aspen, birch and oak, scattered among pine and spruce, change colors for the season.
The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway, approximately a 30-mile drive on SD Highway 240, cuts through the middle of the moon-like geological formations of Badlands National Park. As the byway follows the natural contours of the Badlands escarpment, it also weaves in and out of native grasslands full of hundreds of species of plants and animals. Scenic overlooks, with names like Seabed Jungle, Pinnacles and Prairie Wind, offer many photo opportunities.
The Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway (SD 87/16A) in Custer State Park winds through open grasslands and rolling hills speckled with pine. Many of the park’s wildlife species occupy this area and are commonly seen. They include buffalo, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, deer, elk, coyote, prairie dogs and numerous birds. Also, some of the park’s wild “begging” burros live at the southernmost end of this road. This 18-mile route follows the diverse landscape offering views of mountain foothills, prairie meadows and lush streambeds. The park is home to one of the world’s largest publicly-owned, free-roaming bison herds.