NEEDLES HIGHWAY (SD HWY 87)
This national scenic byway is a must see while you are visiting the Black Hills. If you are staying in Hot Springs this is a great choice for part of a day sightseeing trip.
Traveling north out of Hot Springs, highway 87 starts at Wind Cave National Park. This part of the highway is rolling hills and prairie. Lots of wild life to be seen along this section of road. Look out for buffalo as you continue north through Custer State Park. We had a buffalo walk right down the middle of the road right at us while we were on motorcycles. They can be very intimidating when you are outside with them. To be honest we weren’t quite sure what to do. They say you shouldn’t approach the buffalo, but we were stopped and the motorcycles weren’t running. The buffalo just kept walking right at us. When he got very close we started the motors and scooted by him. He did not move away from the middle of the road at all.
The Needles Highway part of highway 87 is north of highway 16. This section of road is about 14 miles long and not a place to be in a hurry. The road is full of very tight corners and one lane tunnels. We mean really tight corners. Some are impossible to stay in your lane on a big motorcycle. Some corners show a 5 MPH sign so you know how tight they are.
We met some friends who were staying in Rapid City for this section of Highway 87. Great fun to ride and amazing scenery as you wind through mountain peaks and granite spears that reach skyward giving the road the name Needles Highway.
A couple of the tunnels are very narrow. You have to stop and watch some to the bigger pickups try to drive through them. You can almost count on hearing scraping and crunching noises as their sideview mirrows rub along the sides of the tunnel.
Captain Dan’s Tips. Take the drive through the Needles Highway. If you are a new or inexperienced motorcycle rider, be very careful, the turns are very sharp. Do stop and watch the vehicles scape through the narrow tunnels. It is strangly funny to hear the scraping and grinding.