The Needles Highway is more than a 14-mile road—it’s a spectacular drive through pine and spruce forests, meadows surrounded by birch and aspen, and rugged granite mountains. The road’s name comes from the needlelike granite formations that seem to pierce the horizon along the highway.
The roadway was carefully planned by former South Dakota Governor Peter Norbeck, who marked the entire course on foot and by horseback. Construction was completed in 1922.
Visitors traveling the highway pass Sylvan Lake and a unique rock formation called the Needle's Eye, so named for the opening created by wind, rain, freezing, and thawing.
Due to its narrow, windy roads, Needles Highway is closed in the winter months. Plan your visit from spring through fall.
Sylvan Lake Lodge is right at the entrance of the grand highway, and Legion Lake Lodge can be found just 1 mile from the south entrance, as well. (And just another 10 minutes drive from there, find the State Game Lodge or Blue Bell Lodge.)
Winding drives throughout the park are most enjoyable at a slower pace. When making plans, please allow ample time to travel at a safe speed—generally 25 miles per hour or slower. Expect travel time of about 45 to 60 minutes to enjoy Needles Highway.