Thursday, July 5, 2007

Needles Highway

Starting from Hill City, SD, we rode to Needles Highway. I had been here 4 years ago, so I knew the treat ahead of us. Needles is a highway made for riding and viewing. It's a narrow two-lane road that winds for only a few miles through the Black Hills.

The highlights of the area are the one-lane tunnels and the rock formations. The tunnels are chiseled through solid granite and are just large enough to let a bus go through them with about 1/2 inch to spare on each side. It takes about 30 minutes for a bus to go through because it has to be oriented just right for it to fit. Bikes, though, are no problem.

The rock formations are so neat. They are granite rocks, pointed towards the sky. Picture a granite needle, and you'll get the picture. I've never seen such formations anywhere else.

We did the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, a delightful road that winds through a section of the park that is designed to allow for wildlife viewing. We saw Antelope and Buffalo--lots of them. No bears or other animals, however.

We also did the Iron Mountain Road, which is also in Custer State Park and also unique. It has several one-lane tunnels also, with two of them oriented in such a way as to allow for viewing the carvings at Mt. Rushmore! So neat! It also has two or three unique road formations. I call it the corkscrew, where the road does a complete 360 degree turn, with the road at different elevations. So unique!

Then we started home on I-90. Rode to Sioux Falls, SD for the night. The ride was long, hot, and boring. Had to fight a stiff wind coming at us from about 10:00, so it was constant matter of correcting for the high wind. No problem, but it was a long, boring ride on the slab.

443 miles today.

Tomorrow--more slab towards home.

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