Top 10 Scenic Cruises

Rapid City, South Dakota is not just a destination, but a journey of breathtaking views. Dive into our list of the most scenic routes in our area. With each drive, you'll find yourself captivated by stunning landscapes and breathtaking views. So roll down the windows, take your time, and revel in the natural wonders that unfold with every turn.

Custer State Park

1 - Needles Highway - Custer State Park

Deemed "impossible" to construct by its critics, Needles Highway - a National Scenic Byway - was completed in 1922 and includes 14 miles of sharp turns, narrow tunnels and towering granite spires. This unbelievable road lies within Custer State Park, just 30 miles south of Rapid City.



Drone shot above the pigtail and mountain tunnel of iron mountain road in the black hills

2 - Iron Mountain Road

Iron Mountain Road redefined what a road could be. Climbing 17 miles from Custer State Park to the entrance of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Iron Mountain Road experience includes 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtail bridges, 3 tunnels, 2 road splits, and outstanding views of four famous granite faces!



fall colors and fog along the spearfish canyon scenic byway in the black hills of south dakota

3 - Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

Access to this site has been impacted by US Highway 385 Construction. Learn more about alternative routes here.

Experience a stunning 19-mile cruise through towering limestone walls and dense foliage known as the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. The road follows Spearfish Creek past a historic Homestake Gold Mine hydroelectric plant, multiple waterfalls and great hiking trails. 



road driving into the towering landscape of badlands national park in south dakota

4 - Badlands Loop Road

Witness the desolate beauty of Badlands National Park while driving Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road. Enjoy this 39-mile loop while searching for the wildlife of the Badlands, taking in the beauty from the many scenic overlooks or even experiencing a few of the hikes. For additional scenic drives in the park, check out the gravel road taking you along the north rim called Sage Creek Road, or Sheep Mountain Table Road which is four miles south of Scenic, SD. 



view outside of a vehicle with bison on the road in custer state park in south dakota

5 - Wildlife Loop Road - Custer State Park

Custer State Park is one the largest state parks in the United State and is famous for its abundant wildlife that wanders its ground. You could spot bison, pronghorns, white and mule deer, elk, coyotes, burros, prairie dogs and variety of birds all with a drive on the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. Not to mention the natural beauty of the park is all around. 



drone view of the road weaving through vanocker canyon with fall colors in the black hills

6 - Vanocker Canyon

Off Interstate 90, Vanocker Canyon Road (Forest Service Road 26) winds southwest for 17 miles to the tiny historic community of Nemo. This hidden beauty provides a glowing backdrop scattered with birch and aspen trees, along with some twists and turns not quite as sharp as some of the other drives in our area.



timelapse of car headlights looping around the pigtail curve of peter norbeck scenic byway

7 - Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

South Dakota conservationist, Governor and U.S. Senator Peter Norbeck wanted to share the unspoiled beauty of the Black Hills with others. But it was of utmost importance to him to do it responsibly. The result is a 68-mile series of twisting roads that carefully tiptoe through the central Black Hills called the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, leaving very little impact on the surrounding environment.



drone shot of car weaaving along skyline drive in rapid city, sd with city in background

8 - Skyline Drive

Located right in Rapid City is the beautiful Skyline Drive. Cruising high over the city for two miles, you’ll enjoy beautiful views to the east and west, discover the residents of Dinosaur Park, and the trailheads of Skyline Wilderness Area. In addition to the depression-era dinosaurs, spot a historic feature known as “Hangman’s Tree”, a dead pine tree on the edge of the drive where allegedly three men were hung by citizens for stealing horses in 1877.



looking through miner's gateway tunnel found on highway 16 in the black hills of south dakota

9 - Highway 16 

While it might seem an ordinary route at first, the eye candy sprinkled along Highway 16 makes it a treat to explore. From the twists and turns taking you past iconic attractions like Reptile Gardens and Bear Country U.S.A., to the stunning natural surroundings of the Black Hills, this route cruises through beautiful terrain and is the fastest route from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore. Key features to spot along the way include the magnificent Keystone Wye Bridge, which has a rather interesting history, and the Miner's Gateway Tunnel. 

Devils Tower National Monument

10 - Devils Tower National Monument

Located 107 miles northwest of Rapid City, over the Wyoming border, stands a unique formation known as Devils Tower National Monument. Take exit 185 off Interstate I-90 from Rapid City onto Hwy 110 to discover the first national monument proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Hwy 110 turns into Main Park Road which does a half loop around the formation allowing for some pretty great views. The tower escalates 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River, making it truly stand out on the horizon as you approach it!




Bonus Drive - U.S. Highway 385

U.S. Highway 385, also known as Black Hills Parkway, is one of the longest roads in the Black Hills. This route provides a scenic alternative to Interstate I-90 from Rapid City to towns like Deadwood, or instead of Highway 16 to Hill City or Custer. Highway 385 will also take you past the breathtaking vistas of Pactola Reservoir and Sheridan Lake

Starting spring of 2024, a 15-mile portion of this route will undergo reconstruction. Learn more here