May 10 - Iron Mountain Road & the Needles Highway
Well we have certainly been lucky with the weather since we arrived in South Dakota! After yesterday's on again, off again rain, today broke sunny albeit windy too. Perfect weather for a scenic drive or two. Care to join us??
We had read, and had been told, that we should not miss the Iron Mountain Road. This is the road that was used to access Mt Rushmore.
The road did not disappoint. But as we've said before, pictures really don't tell the whole story. But we try.
On the way out, we drove around Stockade Lake.
The scenery looked like this at the start.
Look closely and you can see Mt Rushmore in the distance.
Then things started to get interesting.
We encountered many of these today on both scenic drives, both going up as well as coming down.
A view from the "top" - tomorrow's destination is out there somewhere.
The second of three tunnels on the Iron Mountain Road.
And a "pigtail". We just drove out of the tunnel at the upper left and, 270 degrees later, are about to go under the road.
Driving north, we are getting closer to Mt Rushmore. Can you see it in the distance?
All too soon we were in the old mining town of Keystone. We stopped for a walk. This part of Keystone is very "touristy", so we hopped back in Alfie and went looking for the Needles Highway.
Keystone is just east of Mt Rushmore so we drove by and continued on to the main highway.
We followed the highway to the turnoff to Hwy 87 - Needles Highway. Time for Round 2 of our scenic drive tour.
Through a tunnel and into some dramatic geological formations. I think they call these the Black Hills.
Okay.......I think we are about to lose the road in all these rocks!!!
I can see light on the other side of Needles Eye Tunnel - phew!
Yes! We made it through unscathed!
Spectacular don't you think?!
Well, after that tunnel, it's all downhill from here. But the scenery here in the Black Hills is really something else.
Geez just when you thought you'd seen the last rocky picture, there are more. Okay, well I sympathize, so I'll make these pictures smaller. (I know, seen one rock, you've seen them all.)
Yup, that's 5 mph around this hairpin. They don't get much tighter than that!
Did you see the buffalo on the side of the road?
And so, our scenic drives today have almost come to the end. We certainly would NOT have missed either of these for the world.
During our drives, Jen and I chatted about what we thought of South Dakota so far. We are in the scenic Black Hills and they are just that. Spectacular doesn't do the hills or the area justice. If you ever have a chance to visit, do. South Dakota, so far, has been one of the highlights of our trip.
On the way back to Custer and the campground we came across a sign at the side of the road - elevation: 5,383'. No wonder it's so cold overnight.
See you tomorrow as we move to Rapid City area.
PPS: Here are a couple of Google maps of parts of the scenic drives today: