“Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy”. – Anne Frank
No visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota is complete without a drive through the impressive Needles Highway. Designed in 1919 by Peter Norbeck (an American politician from South Dakota who is most famous for commissioning Mount Rushmore) the 14-mile highway meanders through a vast web of spires and pointed, needle-shaped rock formations that look like they are launching off to space. There are several turnouts along the road where you can get out and do some fabulous hikes. However, even just pulling over to take in the view of the massive rock formations is enough to make it worth your while.
It took two years and 150,000 pounds of dynamite to make the Needles Highway. Engineers at the time thought it would be impossible to carve out a road through such wild land yet Norbeck proved them wrong. Finally some of the most gorgeous untouched land of the Black Hills was available for the world to see and enjoy. But not without a cost.
The most dramatic, awe-inspiring way to travel the Needles Highway is from south to north. You can begin in Custer State Park and end your journey at the beautiful Sylvan Lake for a snack and a short one-mile hike around the lake. Or if you are feeling more adventurous, you can pick up the trail for Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota and experience a fantastic four-hour roundtrip hike.