Tuesday 24, Feb 2015

Sit back, enjoy the scenery (unless you're driving)

Iron MT 750But even if you are driving, you can still enjoy the scenery that abounds in the Black Hills around Keystone. In fact, three of the most scenic roads anywhere make up the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Start with the Iron Mountain Road just west of Keystone about halfway to Mount Rushmore.

Iron Mountain Road

Iron Mountain Road, or Highway 16A, is one of the most fascinating roads in America. This winding 17-mile scenic road runs between Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. There’s a tunnel that gives you a unique view of Mount Rushmore framed by granite. Pull over and get a picture. Along the route you’ll also find three pigtail bridges -- clever looping engineering designs to traverse steep inclines with little impact on the scenic landscape. At the road’s hilltop midpoint, you’ll find the Norbeck Overlook, a nice little area for picnicking and sightseeing. The drive is about 45 minutes, but take your time -- and your camera.

Needles Highway

The Needles Highway, named for the spiky granite spires that rise from the forest floor, runs along the northern edge of Custer State Park. You can catch it at U.S. Highway 385 at the west end or in Custer State Park near Legion Lake. Along the way, you’ll pass through low tunnels, around sharp curves and come across an occasional grazing bison. Pull over at the Needle’s Eye, a twin spire that does indeed look like a sewing needle jutting from a pin-cushion. You’ll also pass the Black Hills Playhouse, Cathedral Spires and Sylvan Lake.

Wildlife Loop Road

Located in Custer State Park, the name says it all. You’re likely to see antelope, deer, prairie dogs and some of the park’s 1,300 free-roaming bison. You can also spot mountain goats, big horn sheep, deer, elk and wild turkeys.Don’t worry about finding the park’s famous begging burros. They’ll find you. And if your car windows are rolled down, a friendly burro will likely stick his head right inside the car to search for treats. What do burros eat? Just about anything. Apples, carrots, cookies, potato chips, crackers.