Iron Mountain Road: 17 Miles, 314 Curves, 14 Switchbacks, 3 Pigtails, and 3 Tunnels

Iron Mountain Road is a demanding 17-mile scenic drive located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, featuring 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels, and 3 pigtails (turns that loop over their own road, allowing the road to climb rapidly).

Iron Mountain Road

Is Iron Mountain Road Paved?

Situated on the boundary between Pennington and Custer counties of South Dakota, this scenic road is entirely paved and winds round and round to the 1,659m (5,445ft) summit. It meanders through the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park, passing Mount Rushmore National Monument. The road is famous for its views, horseshoe curves, and the three places it makes 360-degree turns—where the road completely circles around and passes over itself as it climbs the side of the mountain. If you are prone to car sickness due to tight curves, this is not the drive for you.

Is Iron Mountain Road Open?

Iron Mountain Road, part of U.S. Route 16A, is not maintained during the winter, and the overview at the top of Iron Mountain is closed during winter months. Parts of the road are not recommended for RVs and large trailers.

When Was Iron Mountain Road Built?

This winding mountain road was constructed in 1933. It was designed to be slow-going—roll your window down, take the top off, feel the wind in your hair, smell the pine trees, and the buffalo. It is famous for its scenic, one-lane tunnels. Legend says that engineers once said it couldn't be built.

Why Is Iron Mountain Road Famous?

The road features two narrow one-lane tunnels on the north side of Iron Mountain that are aligned with views of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The road is located just east of this memorial, a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, featuring 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Is the Famous Iron Mountain Road Worth It?

The drive provides stunning views of the area. Every trip along this road will be a different experience. With the beauty of the mountains and valleys as its backdrop, this unusual and captivating road was specifically designed with a tremendous amount of curves to limit the speed of travelers to 35 miles per hour so that they could enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills.

Iron Mountain Road Experience:

  • 17 miles
  • 314 curves
  • 14 hairpin turns
  • 3 pigtails
  • 3 tunnels