Location: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Best Season: May-October
Climbing Style: Face climbing on small and large towers
The Needles are a fantastic wonderland of rocky granite spires tucked deep in theBlack Hills of South Dakota. The climbing here is legendary: from the wid face climbs that lead to table top summits to giant chicken head knobs which sometimes need to be slung for gear, the Needles of South Dakota are a must for anyone looking for adventure. There are sport routes that deliver ample protection and a mean pump, great boulder problems, trad routes that scare you so badly you swear you’ll never return, and moderate dream rides that will make you want to hijack an RV and stay all summer. Check out the book: The Needles
The Needles Highway conveniently winds its way amongst some of the best spires, offering excellent access as well as a host of onlookers for any route you attempt.
The majority of routes are face climbs up quartz and feldspar crystals. Some are juggy, some are not, but many routes are either difficult to protect or offer a very few ancient bolts. However, the miraculous landscape and summit stances make it all worthwhile.
Temporary Pass: $15/Vehicle; Valid for 7 days
Annual Pass: $30/Vehicle; Valid for 1 year
Camping: There are loads of campgrounds in and around the park. Here are just 2 close options
Sylvan Lake Campground (inside park): $20-24/day Note: you must have a reservation to stay here
Poverty Gulch Climber's Camp: Free; Located between Custer and Sylvan Lake on the east side of the road, across from a longhorn/buffalo ranch with a white fence.