Custer State Park (7 June 2005)

To make my way from the Crazy Horse Memorial to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, I took the long way through Custer State Park. That meant taking the Needles Highway into the park and the Iron Mountain Highway, both part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, out of the park.

The Needles Highway goes past granite formations in the Black Hills called "The Needles" (duh). There are one-lane tunnels cut through the granite and tight switchbacks. I didn't get as many good pictures along this route (or the Iron Mountain Highway) as I'd've liked.

Custer State Park would be worth a visit on its own. It has numerous campgrounds and four lodging establishments, including the State Game Lodge, which Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower both used as Summer White Houses. I had lunch there: A nice buffet that included a tasty buffalo stew.

The Iron Mountain highway also features tight switchbacks and one-lane tunnels through the granite of the Black Hills. What's exceptionally cool, however, is that when going from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore, each tunnel points towards the carving on the face of Mount Rushmore. It's really neat. What's also neat is that some of the switchbacks are trestles, constructed explicitly so the tunnels could point towards the Mount Rushmore memorial. It is really stirring and striking.