Scenic Drive in South Dakota's Black Hills | Midwest Living

Scenic Drive in South Dakota's Black Hills

Discover the dramatic landscape of this rugged terrain in a 270-mile drive.


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Spearfish Canyon

This spectacular passage along Spearfish Creek winds through a gorge for 19 miles. Scenes from the movie Dances With Wolves were filmed here. Cliffs soar above the water, and aspens and birches stand shoulder to shoulder with deep-green pines. You'll see glistening waterfalls tumbling over the cliffs. Along the way, stop at Latchstring Village, where you can spend the night in comfort at Spearfish Canyon Resort or order a tasty trout dinner at The Latchstring Restaurant across the road.

At the north end of US-14A, turn west on Interstate-90 and drive 2 miles.


A majestic mountain greets you at the end of almost any street in this easygoing town. Victorian homes line the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown business district. Stores that specialize in Black Hills gold and silver, plus Lakota crafts, occupy vintage sandstone buildings.

Drive 6 miles east on I-90 and 9 miles south on US-85. Go about 35 miles south on US-385, passing over huge Pactola Reservoir, dotted with boats. At US-16, turn south and drive 6 miles. Take US-16A for 4 miles into the town of Keystone and go 2 miles west on State-244.

Mount Rushmore

No matter how often you've seen photographs of the presidential faces carved into a mountain, your first glimpse of Mount Rushmore inspires awe. Millions of visitors gaze each year at the visages of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. A new visitors center features 21 exhibits, including artifacts and photo-graphs documenting Mount Rushmore's construction. View a film about the monument's history and stroll the Presidential Trail, a half-mile loop that winds to the base of the monument.

Drive 8 miles west on State-244. You'll pass Harney Peak, the highest point (7,242 feet above sea level) between the Rockies and the Alps. Go about a quarter mile south on US-385. You can continue 6 miles south on US-385 to view the 88-foot-tall face of Sioux warrior Crazy Horse carved into a mountain. Five miles north of the resort town of Custer, Crazy Horse has been a work in progress for more than 50 years. Backtrack north on US-385 from the memorial and drive 6 miles south on State-87.


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