When planning a vacation this year, consider traveling a South Dakota scenic byway. Nearly 600 miles on six scenic byways represent the depth and breadth of South Dakota’s scenery, history and culture.
Native American Scenic Byway
The Native American National Scenic Byway takes travelers through South Dakota’s mixed-grass prairies as it follows the Missouri River’s path and the Lewis and Clark Trail, extending through the heart of the Great Sioux Nation. Drivers will pass through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. Watch for prairie dogs, pronghorn and deer as you drive the byway. Those on the route will be captivated by the wild, rugged country, much of which remains undeveloped. The route begins near Running Water and continues north to the South Dakota/North Dakota border.
Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway
The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway is a 30-mile stretch of state Highway 240, cutting through the center of breathtaking formations of Badlands National Park. The byway follows the natural contours of the Badlands escarpment and weaves in and out of the native grasslands full of hundreds of species of plants and animals. Scenic overlooks, with names like Seabed Jungle, Pinnacles and Prairie Wind, offer outstanding photo opportunities.
Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway
The 70-mile Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway affords breathtaking views of some of the Black Hills’ most stunning scenery. The popular Needles Highway (state Highway 87) and Iron Mountain Road (U.S. Highway 16A) are both part of the byway. Needles Highway features tunnels, hairpin curves and slender granite pinnacles. Three granite tunnels on Iron Mountain Road perfectly frame the faces of Mount Rushmore in the distance. Pigtail bridges, built in the 1930s, have a corkscrew shape and provide an extra special touch to your drive.
Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway
Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway, state highways 87 and 16A, passes through the southernmost portion of Custer State Park. This 18-mile route follows the diverse landscape offering views of mountain foothills, prairie meadows and lush streambeds. Many of the park’s wildlife species occupy this area and are commonly seen. Watch for buffalo, bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, elk, coyote, prairie dog and numerous birds.
Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest Service Scenic Byway
Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest Service Scenic Byway, south of Spearfish on U.S. Highway 14A, cuts through 20 miles of Spearfish Canyon. A forest of spruce, pine, aspen, birch and oak covers the hillsides while Spearfish Creek flows along the canyon bottom. Waterfalls, wildlife and hiking trails can be found along the route. Summer’s lush greenery gives way to brilliant fall foliage.