Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Needles Highway and Wildlife Loop, Black Hills

Located along SD-87 as part as of Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Needles Highway is a 14 mi driveway through pine and spruce forest with sharp bends, tunnels and granite structures in the form of “Needles”. Please do not visit this route if you want to speed your way all along. With more than a dozen pullover sights, the Highway offers enough to the visitors to capture the beauty of the place in their cameras. We were fortunate enough to see two rock climbers trying to scale the heights of these structures. The tunnels were so narrow that only one car could pass through it. This trail took us about 90 odd minutes with the halts and photo shoot outs.

Watch out for Needle’s Eye formation along the route where one of the needles has a cavity –‘eye’ created over years of wind, water and ice.
Sylvan Lake is another spot worth stopping for along the drive. We were a bit hard pressed for time and had to miss the lake. The best time however is a bright sunny afternoon and if you’re lucky you might find the water still.

The next drive through was the 18 mi long Wildlife Loop which unlike the bends and narrow route of the Needles Highway was through the plains with grasslands on either side of the road and hills at a distant. As the name suggests we did see quite a lot of animals here right from the massive bisons, elks, deers and buffaloes.

I enjoyed photographing this place more than the earlier highway. The color of the sky, grass and hills and that too with the setting sun had a very unique combination which I was not able to capture in the photographs. We all were simply awed at the sights that we saw… I’m at a short of words to describe the beauty of the place. The best time to seen the animals is early in the morning or late in the evening. This was the first place were we saw how massive the bisons were. Huge and slow they ruled the roads at a couple of places were had to give way to their pace.
Try not to miss the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway; we couldn’t cover it in our tight agenda. Probably some other time!
For more info on the scenic byways please visit: http://www.allblackhills.com/scenic_drives/needles_highway.php

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