Scenic Drives in the Black Hills

The Black Hills are known for being home to many radiant scenic vistas. Surrounded by staggering cliff sides, the area is filled with some of the most astonishing views in the country.

This is the heart of America’s mountains, from the steps of the Black Hills lodges to the thrilling spires of the Badlands.

So aside from walking around aimlessly hoping for some places to visit, what is the best way to soak in some Black Hills sightseeing? We highly recommend taking an epic drive through the state. We cover three of the most popular scenic drives that are near your Black Hills vacation rental.

scenic drives badlands south dakota

Badlands Loop Scenic Byway

The Badlands Loop Scenic Byway is an arresting romp through the breadth of the Badlands. This 31-mile journey carries you to the heart of real Americana. Desolate yet stunning, you can see red spires and bold cliff sides. It is a labyrinth of some of the most isolated sights in the country. Few have seen the American countryside like those who have traversed the Badlands
Loop Scenic Byway.

You get there by traveling west on Interstate 90 and taking exit 131, following signs for about three miles to the entrance of Badlands National Park. If you are traveling east on 90, take exit 110 and follow posted signage to the park.

You want to set some time to get out and admire the view. We recommend two main stops. These are Big Badlands Overlook as well as the Pinnacles Overlook. The scenic route consists of about 15 dedicated overlooks in total. You can also get very ambitious and stop for a quick walk along one of the route’s eight trails.

In all, the route is about 38 miles and carries you to some truly off-the-beaten-path natural sights. This is the epic heart of the Badlands. If you want to see it, this is it.

Boulder Canyon

The Boulder Canyon Scenic Drive retains the purity of South Dakota. You get a little glimpse of everything. There are creek views, high-scaling monolithic rock structures, and a myriad number of twists and turns. The route is also home to numerous trails that provide an excellent opportunity to stretch the legs during a long drive.

The route is a driver’s playground and one of the best things to do in the Black Hills.

South Dakota Scenic Drives

Spearfish Canyon

Take a day trip along the Spearfish Canyon drive. It is one of the best summer drives in the state. You begin at exit 10 off Interstate 90. You may be lucky enough to spot staggeringly-high limestone palisades. Some reach thousand-feet high or more with intertwining colors of gray, pink, and brown.

Along the route you go high and low, hugging Spearfish Canyon. You can stop at some of the most dazzling roadside attractions such as Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls. You can also see some really peculiar non-natural sights. The most famous may be the Maurice Hydro Power Plant. It is a fascinating look at the gold mine operations which captivated visitors to the region for generations. The route also has some nice stops for lunch. We recommend the Spearfish Canyon Lodge.

If you visit during the summer, you will see spacious greens mixed with massive trees. But the fall offers some enthralling treasures. The bold green becomes fused with yellow, gold, and red accents. It is a glorious drive whether you do it in the or fall or the early summer.

All ages can get behind a scenic cruise. Whether you make your way to Deadwood or Mount Rushmore, or you wander up through the bold foothills with no clear destination in mind, South Dakota is a paradise for eager adventurers.