Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway
Located in Custer State Park and named one of the 10 Most Outstanding Byways in America, the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway spans 70 miles. The loop includes the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road that takes drivers by granite spires, through rock tunnels and across pigtail bridges on the way to Mount Rushmore. Roads along the route include US 16A, SD 244, SD 87 and SD 89.
Peter Norbeck went from being a State Senator in 1908 to becoming South Dakota’s 9th Governor in 1917, and in 1920 elected United States Senator. Norbeck in his desire to preserve nature while making it accessible to as many people as possible, searched through the Black Hills for a route that would bring visitors into contact with the forest, rocks and streams. Norbeck came up with an almost impossible route and with the aid of his engineer Scovell Johnson created what is known now as Needles Highway. The Iron Mountain Road finished in 1933, with 3 tunnels to be blasted through the mountains, was to be Norbeck’s next project.
Needles Highway is a 14-mile stretch of road that features some of the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills. This slow speed drive features narrow tunnels, hairpin curves and the Needle’s Eye, which is a popular photograph site. Frequent picnic areas, climbing rocks and alpine brooks add to the family fun. Iron Mountain Road winds between Mount Rushmore and the junctions of Highway 16A and SD 36. Drivers can view Mount Rushmore in the distance while passing through three rock tunnels on the 17-mile route.