Western Adventure: Black Hills-Iron mountain Road

View from the Iron Mountain Road

Next up on our Black Hills Adventure, we are embarking on the famed Iron Mountain Road from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore.

Like the nearby Needles Highway, the Iron Mountain Road was inspired by Peter Norbeck. The road, like Mount Rushmore is a feat in modern engineering – but the earth defying construction plays second fiddle to the natural scenery of The Black Hills.

The highway was constructed in the 1930s under the direction of Governor Peter Norbeck, “this is not meant to be a super highway, to do the scenery justice you should drive no more than 20 mph and to do it full justice you should simply get out and walk.” Experience the road that engineers once said couldn’t be built; you’ll be happy you did.

The Iron Mountain road is purposely designed to twist and turn, forcing drivers to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty. Each bend and break in the byway uncovering awesome beauty. The Iron Mountain Road is the most scenic route to Mt. Rushmore. The road is engineered specifically to showcase Mt. Rushmore seamlessly with the natural unbridled beauty of the Black Hills.

This road is not for the faint of heart – while not difficult to drive – it requires you pay attention and take your time. Roadside pullouts enable drivers the ability to stop for jaw dropping photo ops and to breathe in the mountain air.

As with any mountain byway – always make sure to fill up on gas before you embark on your journey. The town of Custer is a good place to fill up (or State Game Lodge and Blue Bell have gas in Custer State Park)

Hands down – visitors to the Black Hills must drive the Needles and Iron Mountain Roads – these views will inhabit your dreams for a lifetime.

Quick facts about the Iron Mountain Road:

  • 17 miles long connecting Custer State Park to Mt. Rushmore
  • 314 curves
  • 14 switchbacks
  • 3 tunnels
  • 2 splits
  • Pigtail Roads: a sprial loop bridge which loops over its own road, allowing the road to climb rapidly
  • All leading to 4 Presidents
From SD Tourism

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