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Can You See Mount Rushmore from Needles Highway?

Can You See Mount Rushmore from Needles Highway?

Needles Highway (South Dakota Highway 87), a breathtaking drive that is a section of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, is situated directly in the Black Hills in Custer State Park in South Dakota, USA. It has breathtaking vistas. Due to the proximity, you may wonder whether it’s possible to see Mount Rushmore from Needles highway.

Despite the fact that the two locations are quite near to one another, Mount Rushmore cannot really be seen from Needles Highway. However, you can drive towards Iron Mountain Road, from where you can get some beautiful views of Mount Rushmore.

Continue reading for more information on this topic.

What is Needles Highway?

The Needles Highway in South Dakota is one of the most beautiful stretches of roadway in the United States and the best route to see the Black Hills. Nowhere else in the world can you find a scene like this one, with its granite spires and pine-covered slopes.

The 14-mile-long Needles Highway is a twisting route that weaves through forests and towers. You are enticed by enormous views of the breathtaking countryside along its course. The road’s construction was noteworthy, which Governor Peter Norbeck oversaw at the time. 

Millions of tourists have enjoyed the project for the past 100 years since it was finished in 1922.

One of the most beautiful things to do in the United States drives down the Needles Highway, with or without getting out. Of course, we advise going outside and hiking as often as you can. This small stretch of road offers a variety of experiences, but it’s difficult to take in the scenery while driving down a curvy, tight route.

For more information on the Needles Highway, watch this video below:

Riding Needles Hwy in South Dakota

How Long is the Needles Highway?

The paved scenic byway is quite curvy and twisted, with some particularly tight sections that draw travelers. The 22.53 km (14 mi) length offers breathtaking views of pine and spruce woods, meadows covered by birch and aspen trees, and rough granite mountains, in addition to abrupt turns, small tunnels, granite spires, and world-class scenery. 

This two-lane road is so congested that you’ll likely never need to shift into third gear.

How Long Does it Take to Drive the Needles Highway?

Going early in the morning is essential for enjoying this drive. The trip takes between 45 and 60 minutes. There are often pull-offs for taking pictures or just admiring. Be sure to include plenty of extra time for travel at a safe speed when making arrangements. You won’t want to drive the Needles Highway in a hurry. 

Don’t be shocked if you catch yourself driving 20 miles per hour because there is so much beautiful landscape. Sylvan Lake and Needle’s Eye are two places that are highly recommended. 

Wildlife frequently spotted along the route includes deer, chipmunks, and shaggy white mountain goats.

Is Mount Rushmore Visible from Needles Highway?

Rapid City is only 30 miles away, and Mount Rushmore can be reached in 35 minutes. It’s a top attraction among those in the area of Mount Rushmore.

Unfortunately, Needles Highway does not provide any views of Mount Rushmore. Nonetheless, travelers can choose to take the Needles Highway to Iron Mountain Road. The Mount Rushmore scenery you’ll witness on the drive there and back may surpass the views you see up close.

What is Mt. Rushmore Inspiration on Needles Highway?

Doane Robinson, a historian from South Dakota, had the idea to carve historical figures’ faces into the granite rocks as a tourist attraction. 

His original plan called for the veneration of Native American heroes such as Chief Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sacajawea, along with local American heroes, including Lewis & Clark and Buffalo Bill Cody. He imagined this sculpture in the breathtaking Black Hills needles region.

Mt. Rushmore underwent several concept changes during the idea’s conception and implementation. When Gutzon Borglum was recruited to carry out the plan, he enlarged it so that American presidents would be honored instead of local heroes. Everyone didn’t agree with this, but it’s difficult to disagree with the final result.

This stunning view is all that is left for us to enjoy. It is simple to understand why Doane Robinson was motivated.

How Many Tunnels are on the Needles Highway?

Three confined tunnels must be navigated along the way. Needles Eye Tunnel is the most commonly known tunnel among them. The tunnel is quite wonderful to view and a terrific location for pictures. The tourist center has details regarding the dimensions of the tunnels. The tunnel is 12′ 0″ high and 8′ 4″ wide. 

Before navigating this tunnel, you must be sure of your vehicle’s size and confident in your abilities. Exploring them is an exciting adventure, and unless you have a severe case of claustrophobia, you should have no problems doing so. 

It is advised that novice riders stay off of this route. Hood Tunnel and Iron Creek Tunnel are a couple of the other tunnels in the area.

When is the Best Time to Go to Needles Highway?

Schedule your trip between spring and fall. The Black Hills have been a well-known travel destination for almost a century. The route needs more traffic because of its narrow width, abrupt curves, and short tunnels. 

The few cars that do use this route are nearly always tourists. It’s an amazing drive. This should be at the top of your list if you want to appreciate the magnificence of the Black Hills.

Can I Travel Needles Highway in an RV?

It’s best to stay away from Needles Highway in RVs and cars pulling heavy trailers. 

You will only have a little time to take in the sights because of the road’s tiny width, plenty of hairpin twists, and a handful of incredibly cramped tunnels.

How Was Needles Highway Given its Name?

The granite rocks that resembled needles and seemed to penetrate the horizon along the route gave the road its name. Peter Norbeck, a former governor of South Dakota, planned the route meticulously and charted the whole route on foot and by horseback. 1922 saw the completion of construction.

How Can I Go From Needles Highway to Iron Mountain Road?

Take the S. Playhouse Road exit at the Y from Needles Highway 87 and go north for four miles to reach Iron Mountain Road. Afterward, head left onto Iron Mountain Road (State Route 16A).

Iron Mountain Road has 314 turns, 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels, and 3 pig-tails. Pig-tails are curves on the road that loop back over them, allowing the vehicle to quickly climb. The road’s curves are intentional since they limit speeds to 35 mph or less.

In addition to the typical tree-lined slopes and winding roads of the Black Hills, you can also expect to see some of the region’s famously impressive granite rock formations and breathtaking scenery. The Doane Robinson tunnel offers a great perspective of Mt. Rushmore, and the Norbeck Overlook is well worth the trip.


While extremely narrow, the renowned Needles Highway tunnel is quite the sight! The construction of this route for aesthetic purposes was a wonderful feat. Despite no sightings of Mount Rushmore, the picturesque Needles Highway trip is still worth a visit!