Explore the Needles at Custer State Park.

Needles Highway: Explore a Natural Wonder at Custer State Park

The Needles at Custer State Park have become one of the park’s biggest attractions. These soaring, slender granite rock formations attract visitors from near and far alike. Hike through Custer State Park and see the Needles for yourself. This attraction has also become a popular rock-climbing spot. Looking for incredible views? Needles Highway features 14 miles of scenic views through Custer State Park. Check out these famed natural structures as you cruise past forests, meadows, mountains and Sylvan Lake.

Geese on a lake.

Sylvan Lake

Quite likely South Dakota's most posted lake, this jewel has served as the beautiful backdrop for countless events, weddings and even for climactic Nicolas Cage adventures in the 2007 blockbuster National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. It also serves as a trailhead for great Black Hills hiking trails like Sunday Gulch and Little Devils Tower. Besides social media influencers, movie stars and hikers, Sylvan Lake is also popular with families looking for a place to swim and anglers looking to land a rainbow trout. 

Picture this

Family Hiking Cathedral Spires Custer State Park

Cathedral Spires Trail

The Cathedral Spires are a part of the Needles formations and the inspiration for Mount Rushmore. The same view that inspired Doane Robinson marks the beginning of the Cathedral Spires Trail, a 1.6-mile trail that's more moderate and approachable than its "difficult" rating suggests and takes you right through the iconic formations. 

Hike the Trail

Needles Eye Custer State Park

Needle's Eye

There's no doubt where the name comes for this iconic formation comes from once you see it (and it's easy to find right along SD Hwy 87). Rock climbers looking for a serious challenge can often be found taking it on. 

Find This Landmark

Sylvan Lake Lodge Exterior

Sylvan Lake Lodge

This historic lodge and collection of cabins deep in Custer State Park overlook Sylvan Lake — one of Custer State Park's most beautiful gems. Making basecamp from here, one is within walking distance of trails like Sunday Gulch and the Sylvan Lake Shore before continuing to others like Little Devils Tower, Cathedral Spires, or Black Elk Peak

Sleep amongst the Pines

Needles Eye Tunnel Custer State Park South Dakota

Needle's Eye Tunnel

A distinct formation in the granite that looks like the eye of a giant's rock needle marks one of the more popular pullouts along the scenic Needles Highway (SD Hwy 87 North). Many like to stop and watch in disbelief as family haulers — and even some specialized commercial busses — squeeze through the 8' 9" wide by 9’8" high tunnel. 

Thread the Needle


Rock-Climbing the Needles

If you're ready for a truly amazing adventure, climb the Needles! The guides at Sylvan Rocks can supply all the climbing gear and guidance you need, whether you're a beginner or experienced climber. To look out over Custer State Park from the top of these unique rock formations is an experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Up we go

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Don't miss your chance to climb the Needles.
Plan Your Visit

With hiking trails, scenic drives, rock climbing and more, the Needles are a must-see South Dakota attraction.

13329 US Highway 16A
Custer, SD57730
United States


Where to Stay Near the Needles and Custer State Park

Cabins, suites, RV camps – no matter your preference – there are plenty of lodging options near Custer State Park.


Where to Eat and Drink 

From pie and coffee shops to sports bars and brewing companies, there are a variety of restaurants to match any craving near Custer State Park. 


What to See and Do Nearby

The Needles are an attraction like no other, with hiking, rock climbing and scenic drives aplenty. But Custer State Park and its surrounding area offer a variety of exciting possibilities for you to discover.

Check Out These Businesses Near the Needles

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Illustrated image of three bison grazing in Custer State Park. The Needles rock formation is visible in the background.
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