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

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page Ridge Route corridor introdution The Ridge Route as originally envisioned was a segment of highway which was completed in 1915 between the northern Los Angeles city limit

Establishing the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates

The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System into existence which would largely be constructed by Federal Highway Administration fund matching.  The Interstate Highway System was deliberately numbered to run opposite the established conventions of the US Route System.  While the Interstate Highway numbering conventions are now well established there was a period during the late 1950s where they were still being finalized.  This blog examines the history of the establishing of the chargeable Interstate Highway route numbers in California.  The above blog cover depicts the Interstate Highway route numbers requested by the Division of Highways in the Los Angeles area during November 1957.  The establishment of the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates The Interstate Highway System was not created in a vacuum by way of the passage of the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act.  The beginning of the Interstate Highway System can be found in the

California State Route 210 (legacy of California State Route 30)

  California State Route 210 is a forty-mile-long limited access State Highway located in Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County.  California State Route 210 exists as a non-Interstate continuation of Interstate 210 and the Foothill Freeway between California State Route 57 in San Dimas east to Interstate 10 Redlands.  California State Route 210 was previously designated as California State Route 30 until the passage of 1998 Assembly Bill 2388, Chapter 221.  Since 2009 the entirety of what was California State Route 30 has been signed as California State Route 210 upon the completion of the Foothill Freeway extension.  Below westbound California State Route 210 can be seen crossing the Santa Ana River as the blog cover.  California State Route 30 can be seen for the last time on the 2005 Caltrans Map below.  Part 1; the evolution of California State Route 30 into California State Route 210 What was to become California State Route 30 (CA 30) entered the State Highway System duri