South Dakota conservationist, governor, and U.S. senator Peter Norbeck wanted to share the unspoiled beauty of the Black Hills with others. But it was of utmost importance to him to do it responsibly. The result is a 68-mile series of twisty roads that carefully tip-toe through the Harney Range of the central Black Hills, leaving very little impact on the surrounding environment. You won’t find a comparable scenic byway anywhere else in the country because Peter Norbeck was the only person bold enough to challenge the engineers of the time who said it couldn’t be done.
Deemed “impossible” to construct by its critics, the Needles highway—a National Scenic Byway—was completed in 1922 and includes 14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels, and impressive granite spires. The road lies within the 73,000 acre Custer State Park, just 30 miles south of Rapid City.