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Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

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Quick Facts
Designation: National Scenic Byway
Designation: South Dakota State Scenic Byway
Fees: A park entrance license is required in Custer Stat
Length, One-Way: 68 Miles (113.33 Kilometers)
Time: 2-4 hours to 1 day

General Information

Description - Welcome to the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. This 66-mile scenic route honors a South Dakota conservationist, Governor, and U.S. Senator. Peter Norbeck first saw the Hills in 1905 after crossing the prairie on rugged, unimproved roads. His first visit began a lifelong love affair with the Black Hills.

Scenes from the Byway
The pristine beauty of these pine-clad mountains with their dramatic granite pinnacles and outcrops impressed Norbeck. He chose the routes of the Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway on foot and horseback in order to ensure that the natural features would be preserved.

Places Along the Way
Norbeck played a key role in establishing Custer State Park and was an ardent supporter of the Mount Rushmore project. Norbeck Overlook, Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, and now this Scenic Byway all bear his name and memorialize his conservation achievements.

Attractions - The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is known for it's Cultural, Historical, Natural, Recreational and Scenic Attractions. There are two scenic drives along The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake) is a favorite with sightseers and motorcycle enthusiasts. The road winds through small granite tunnels and pine forest under a vista of granite spires called “the Needles,” a popular site for rock climbing. Needles Highway joins Iron Mountain Road (US Highway 16A) to make up the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway. Iron Mountain Road showcases three granite tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the distance as well as three pigtail bridges built in the 1930s. The 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road winds around the southern end of the park through the habitats of antelope, prairie dogs, deer, wild turkeys, elk, bighorn sheep and burros.

Climate - As throughout the region, climate varies drastically depending on elevation. Summers generally offer warm clear days with cool nights. Afternoon thunderstorms are often a possibility in the summer. In the winter, sunshine, with plenty of snow in the higher elevations, are ideal for winter activities. Harsh weather - including wind, cold, and snow - is possible throughout the winter and even throughout the year, in the highest elevations.

Location -

Directions from : This byway is accessible from Rapid City by following Highway 16 southwest toward Keystone. U.S. 385 goes south from Lead and Deadwood and north from Hotsprings, intersecting with Highway 87, which is part of the byway.

From Custer, follow U.S. Highway 16A east past Highway 89. At SD Highway 87, turn left or continue straight on 16A. Highway 87 continues past a junction with U.S. 385 to intersect with Highway 16A. Follow Highway 16A to the right, past Mt. Rushmore. Follow Highway 16A back to Custer, or take Highway 36 to Hermosa. If you follow Highway 16A past Highway 87, stay on Highway 16A as it turns to the left and splits with Highway 36. To continue around the loop, take SD Highway 87 at the junction just before Keystone, and follow Highway 87 back to Highway 16A.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Nicole Miller (Evansville, WI)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Scenic Driving Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway
ICON Viewing Scenery Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

More Information

Contact Information:
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway , , , , Phone: 605-673-4948

Additional Information:
South Dakota Scenic Byways - South Dakota offers national, state and National Forest designated byways which include Badlands Loop, Peter Norbeck, Spearfish Canyon, The Native American and Wildlife Loop Road.

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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