South Dakota Highway 87

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Highway 87 marker

Highway 87
Route of SD 87 (in red)
Route information
Defined by SDCL §31-4-182
Maintained by SDDOT
Length: 37.894 mi[1] (60.984 km)
Restrictions: Closed in winter
Major junctions
South end: US 385 east of Pringle
North end: US 16 / US 385 south of Hill City
Counties: Custer, Pennington
Highway system
  • South Dakota Highways
US 85 SD 89

South Dakota Highway 87 (SD 87) is a highway running through the Black Hills of the U.S. state of South Dakota. The road's northern terminus is U.S. Route 16 and U.S. Route 385 about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Hill City. The road's southern terminus is U.S. Route 385 about 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Pringle, South Dakota, or 14 miles (23 km) north of Hot Springs.

The highway passes through Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. The northern 14 miles (23 km) of the highway is also known as the Needles Highway. The Needles Highway, along with the US 16A concurrency, are also part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Portions of the highway are also a section of Custer State Park's Wildlife Loop.

Route description[edit]

Because of the highway's mountainous, curving nature, it is closed during the winter.[2]

South of US 16A[edit]

Highway 87 begins at US 385 in Wind Cave National Park, east of Pringle and west of the park headquarters. North of US 385, the route crosses Cold Spring Creek and provides access to the upstream Lake Norbeck, named after Senator Peter Norbeck, instrumental in establishing several of the national and state parks in the Black Hills. From the start, SD 87 is a very twisting and winding route, with a 180° hairpin turn only a one-half mile (800 m) from the southern end. This results in the route taking a westerly track, though it eventually turns back north and crosses Beaver Creek. Three miles (4.8 km) into the route, it bridges itself and executes a 270° turn.[3]

The route enters Custer State Park one mile (1.6 km) north of US 385.[1] Admission to the park requires an entrance license; as of 2009, the fee is $20 per vehicle.[4] Highway 87 then becomes part of the park's Wildlife Loop, and runs through the town of Blue Bell.

At milepost 17.180 (27.649 km), Highway 87 intersects U.S. Route 16A.[1] From this point onward, the road is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.[5] The two routes form a concurrency and proceed east, passing Legion Lake.[3] The roads split after just under 1.5 miles (2.4 km).[6]

Needles Highway[edit]

The Needles Eye Tunnel

After splitting from US 16A, the route is known as the Needles Highway. This segment is 14 miles (23 km) long.[7] Finished in 1922,[7] the highway is named after the high granite "needles" it winds among. Access to the Needles Highway requires a Custer State Park entrance license, making that portion of SD 87 a toll road. Along this stretch lies the Black Hills Playhouse. The highway passes through two tunnels blasted through sheer granite walls—Iron Creek Tunnel and Needles Eye Tunnel.[1] Owing to the narrow roadway, sharp turns, and low tunnels, the road has very little traffic. The vehicles that do travel this road are almost exclusively sightseers.

Just after Needles Eye Tunnel, Highway 87 serves as the northern terminus of SD 89. After this junction, SD 87 has one more tunnel, Hood Tunnel.[1] It then provides access to the Sylvan Lake Resort. The route finally ends at US 16/385 south of Hill City.

An overlook on Needles highway

Major intersections[edit]

County Location mi[1][6] km Destinations Notes
Custer Wind Cave National Park 0.000 0.000 US 385 Southern terminus
Custer State Park 17.810 28.662 US 16A Southern end of US 16A concurrency
19.298 31.057 US 16A Northern end of US 16A concurrency
31.929 51.385 SD 89 Northern terminus of SD 89
Pennington 37.894 60.984 US 16 / US 385 Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f South Dakota Department of Transportation (January 2009). "State Highway Log, Rapid City Region" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  2. ^ Geelhart, Chris. "The South Dakota Highways Page: Highways 61 to 100". Retrieved 2009-12-17. [self-published source?]
  3. ^ a b Google (2009-12-17). "South Dakota Highway 87" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  4. ^ South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. "Custer State Park Fees". Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  5. ^ National Scenic Byways Program. "Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway—Map". Retrieved 2009-12-17. 
  6. ^ a b US-16A portion of SDDOT State Highway Log (ref. 1)
  7. ^ a b "Needles Highway". Visit Rapid City. Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata