Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park & the Black Hills of South Dakota

TheRVgeeks Miscellaneous, Trip Tips 2 Comments

While Mount Rushmore is the most well-known attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, there are lots of great things to see and do here. We just scratched the surface on this easy, one-day scenic drive.

Although Yellowstone National Park is probably the most famous place to see bison (buffalo), Custer State Park has one of the largest publicly-owned herds in the world, roaming freely throughout the park and often stopping traffic along the the road.

Connecting Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Iron Mountain Road is a work of art in itself. The highway passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Black Hills and includes three tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore in the distance. The road is famous for its “Pigtail Bridges” that allow travelers to gain or lose elevation quickly.

The Needles Highway is a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests, meadows surrounded by birch and aspen and rugged granite mountains. Completed in 1922, the road’s name comes from the needle-like granite formations you’ll see along the way. It also has the longest, and coolest, tunnel!

Of course we visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial too, as no trip to the area would be complete without experiencing this amazing site up close. We hike the easy 6/10-mile Presidential Trail for stunning views almost directly beneath the granite faces.

This is only the beginning of the spectacular scenery in the Black Hills. For the more adventurous, be sure to visit Wind Cave National Park and Harney Peak if you have more time to spend in this beautiful part of the world.

We stayed in one of the many full-hook-up commercial RV parks in the area, but there are lots of State Park and National Forest campgrounds to choose from as well.

If you haven’t yet visited the Black Hills, maybe this quick snapshot of the area will inspire you to add it to your must-see list. The admission price to the Custer State Park is well worth it!



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Comments 2

  1. This is one of our favorite series of roads on our motorcycles. We travel about 1,200 to 1,500 miles annually in and around the hills on the bikes. While on our cycles, we encountered a mid-size class A motorhome on 16A (!) on a downhill hairpin that just about sent the group of motorcycles ahead of us off the edge!

    I’m glad you rode the toad!

    By the way, one of our favorite places to stay in that area is just south of Hill City at the intersection of 385 from Hill City and 244 which heads toward Rushmore. It’s about $50 per night. These are Sturgis motorcycle rally week prices, which is not bad at all. It’s a really neat ranch-in-the-mountains kind of feel to the place. It’s called the Rafter J-Bar Ranch. Has kind of a funky sway to it. Great hand dipped ice cream too (not Rocket Science, but…). Arguably, this resort is at the epicenter of some of the best motorcycle roads anywhere. Obviously one of our passions! We do our riding the week before this largest motorcycle rally in the world, but I like visiting Main Street Sturgis mid-week of the rally to observe the wildlife with my camera and sketchpad. I know, I know… I’m a retired executive who has shed his image utterly and completely :-)

    1. Post
      Author

      Haven’t had a bike in years, but man those roads must be sweet on two wheels! We love the whole area, and the Needles Highway is one of our favorite spots. But we sure would never take our rig up there. =:-O

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