Iron Mountain Road
The next day we went to Mount Rushmore. The Iron Mountain Road squiggles through the NE section of the park, then continues up to Keystone. The road was built in 1933 when cars were much narrower, and when people were apparently unconcerned about drop-offs and lack of guard rails.
All the maps list exact dimensions of each tunnel, so you have a chance to panic a little bit before you get there. It must be really hard rock because the road builders didn't make a lot of effort in making the tunnels very big. Tunnel 3 is one of the larger ones: 13'4" (4.1m) and 12'4" (3.8m) high. They're all one-lane, so it's just you and the rock! (Oh, by the way, the week we were here is the week before the big motorcycle rally at Sturgis, just a few miles up the road. Actually, that would be all the roads because there are bikers everywhere!)
The road splits into an even narrower ribbon through the trees, then there's a major switchback after this tunnel, and then glimpses of Mount Rushmore.
Tunnel 2 is a wee bit larger, but it's hard to tell. It's certainly not a road we'd be able to take the 5th wheel on.
The road splits again, and then it's time for Tunnel 1, the largest one at 14'0" (4.3m) wide and 12'9" (3.9m) high, still not big enough to drag a trailer through. Theoretically you can view Mount Rushmore through Tunnel 1, but my picture while we were in the tunnel didn't turn out very well, and George wouldn't turn around and go back. (sigh)
Another thing that the Iron Mountain Road is famous for is Pigtail Bridges, a form of bridge that loops over it's own road, like on this hairpin curve, allowing the road to climb rapidly. Then it was on to Mount Rushmore.
Two days later we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial, back again through Custer SP up Hwy 87, the Needles Highway. It's another mountain highway, with twists and turns and tunnels (6 through 4), but this time with the distraction of granite needles and spires and pinnacles wherever you look.
This road was built in 1922, so tunnels are even narrower. Tunnel 6 is 9'0" (2.7m) wide, 12'3" (3.7m) high.
They call these the "Cathedral Spires". Aren't they great?
Tunnel 5 is the smallest at 8'4" wide (2.5m) and 12.0' (3.7m) high. It's also pretty spectacular. The first picture is from a viewpoint nearby. After you go through the tunnel, you go between some needles. (BTW, it's not raining in the middle tunnel picture--it's bugs on the windshield. We felt a responsibility to help reduce the large insect population of South Dakota.)
We had lunch at Sylvan Lake.
Except for the hanging on the edge of a cliff, Tunnel 4 at 10'6" (3.2m) wide and 10'7" (3.2m) high seemed relatively simple.
A few more needles--but no more needle's eyes--and it was on to Crazy Horse.Custer State Park