Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 5; South Dakota State Route 87/The Needles Highway

After leaving the Wind Cave I headed north to the junction of South Dakota State Route 87 the Needles Highway.






This is Part 5 of the 2016 Mountain Trip Series, Part 4 can be located here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip; Wind Cave National Park

SD 87 is an approximately 38 mile state highway which connects US Route 385 in Wind Cave National Park to US 385/16 north of Custer State Park in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills.  The northern 14 miles of SD 87 through Custer State Park is known as the Needles Highway.  The Needles Highway is named for the granite needles that common near the high peaks of the Black Hills Range.  SD 87 begins at an approximate elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level before ascending above 6,000 feet.

Even though SD 87 heading north from US 385 through Wind Cave National Park doesn't start in the Black Hills it still is a spectacular route that starts off with a scenic bridge over Beaver Creek.





SD 87 crosses over itself a couple miles north of Beaver Creek on a 270 degree configuration.



A couple miles north of the 270 degree loop is a small entrance station for Custer State Park.  Custer State Park dates back to 1912 and is the first State Park in South Dakota.  Custer State Park has over 1,500 bison and various other animals common to the area like Burros.  The Bison are obvious almost immediately upon entering Custer State Park via SD 87.











Near the southern entrance station there is a spur road known as the Wild Life Loop which ends at the Custer State Park Visitor Center on US 16A.  I stuck to SD 87 and headed north to US 16A via Mount Coolidge.






SD 87 briefly multiplexes US 16A east past Legion Lake before splitting off onto the 14 mile Needles Highway.  The Needles Highway portion of SD 87 is very narrow and for the most part signed at 25 MPH.  I turned off of SD 87 briefly on Playhouse House to visit the Black Hills Playhouse on Center Lake. The Black Hills Playhouse dates back to 1933 when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps but wouldn't host actual plays until 1946.





The Needles Highway portion of SD 87 was completed in 1922 and is a popular motorcycle route.  The Needles Highway is mostly known for the direct tunnel cuts the roadway takes through the granite needles.  The first cut is the Iron Creek Tunnel.







SD 87 on the Needles Highway begins to travel mostly west as it passes the overlooks for the Cathedral Spires.










SD 87 on the Needles Highway next crosses through the Needles Eye Tunnel which is probably the most known location on the highway and Custer State Park.








West of the Needles Eye Tunnel SD 87/Needles Highway meets the north terminus of SD 89.  The Needles Highway section of SD 87 terminates at SD 89.  West of SD 89 the route of SD 87/Needles Highway turns northward and crosses through the Hood Tunnel and leaves Custer State Park shortly thereafter.  SD 87 continues lose elevation through Johnson Canyon until it meets it's north terminus at US 16/US 385.  I turned north on US 16/US 385 to SD 244 towards Mount Rushmore.

Part 6 of this series on SD 244 and Mount Rushmore can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 6; Mount Rushmore

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yes, the color of your nearby fire hydrant matters...

...and here's why. You will find White, Red, Yellow and Violet colored fire hydrants pretty much everywhere.  But there's a reason for this - and it's because of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  This association has issued guidelines for color coding standards for fire hydrants.  These color codes from the body of the hydrant, top of the hydrant, and in some municipalities the outlet caps are designed to allow fire fighters to know what type of system, water flow rate (Gallons Per Minute or GPM), and level of water pressure.  This guideline is known as NFPA 291 and is intended to be used universally throughout the United States. The NFPA guidelines are specific to the body and the top cap of the hydrant.  If a hydrant is WHITE or YELLOW - it means that it is connected to a public/municipal water system.  If a hydrant is RED - the hydrant is connected to a private system, typically a well.  These are most common in rural or unincorporated areas

Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway (in the making since 1947)

On September 15, 2022, the Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway opened in the city of Modesto from California State Route 99 west to North Dakota Avenue.  Phase 1 of the California State Route 132 West Expressway was built upon a corridor which was tentatively to designated to become the branching point for Interstate 5W in the 1947 concept of the Interstate Highway System.  The present California State Route 132 West Expressway corridor was adopted by the California Highway Commission on June 20, 1956.  Despite almost being rescinded during the 1970s the concept of the California State Route 132 West Expressway corridor lingered on for over half a century and became likely the oldest undeveloped right-of-way owned by California Transportation Commission.  Pictured above is the planned California State Route 132 freeway west of US Route 99 in Modesto as featured in the May/June 1962 California Highways & Public Works.   The history of the California State Route

Aptos Creek Road to the Loma Prieta ghost town site

Aptos Creek Road is a roadway in Santa Cruz County, California which connects the community of Aptos north to The Forest of Nisene Marks State Parks.  Aptos Creek Road north of Aptos is largely unpaved and is where the town site of Loma Prieta can be located.  Loma Prieta was a sawmill community which operated from 1883-1923 and reached a peak population of approximately three hundred.  Loma Prieta included a railroad which is now occupied by Aptos Creek Road along with a spur to Bridge Creek which now the Loma Prieta Grade Trail.  The site of the Loma Prieta Mill and company town burned in 1942.   Part 1; the history of Aptos Creek Road and the Loma Prieta town site Modern Aptos traces its origin to Mexican Rancho Aptos.  Rancho Aptos was granted by the Mexican Government in 1833 Rafael Castro.  Rancho Aptos took its name from Aptos Creek which coursed through from the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey Bay.  Castro initially used Rancho Aptos to raise cattle for their hides.  Following