Needles Highway is one of the most beautiful and dangerous roads in the U.S. I drove our small, subcompact car gently through the Eye of the Needle on Needles Highway in South Dakota, looking carefully ahead (it is a one-way road) and glancing at the scrape marks on the tunnel’s granite walls.
14 miles of amazing scenery
The Needles Highway covers 14 miles of South Dakota’s Highway 87. It is breathtakingly scenic with drop-offs, mountain ridges and picture-perfect views. It also requires complete attention to driving, so it is a relief to have a number of scenic view pull-offs. Although it is only 14 miles, it may take several hours to drive it.
Custer State Park
The popular Needles Highway is located in Custer State Park and requires a state park annual or weekly pass. $20 for the week pass was a bit more than I anticipated for the drive-through, but it was well worth it. Custer State Park is a beautiful, huge park with many campgrounds. A number of the campgrounds are suitable for RVs, too, but they book up fast.
Completed in 1922
The highway is narrow and, when completed in 1922, it did not take into account some of today’s massive pickup trucks and SUVs. I found everyone considerate, driving slowly and moving over as far as possible when approaching other vehicles.
The tunnel itself is one way and only 12 ft. high and 8 ft. 4 inches wide. The warning sign says 9 ft. 9 inches by 8 ft. wide. Either way, it is short and narrow. And it is amazing!
We watched carefully for other vehicles before entering and slowly drove through. It gives new meaning to “Go Toward the Light!”
Others, however, were not as careful! Guess they did not read the multiple warnings or turnaround spots! Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about!