Can You Drive an RV Through Needles Eye Tunnel?

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View of needles eye tunnel

Some RVers like to risk it to travel to remote locations or venture into bustling cities. Going off-road or dealing with heavy traffic might be nerve-wracking, but getting to that final destination is worth it.

But never cross the line when dealing with low clearances and narrow roads. One of those locations is Needles Eye Tunnel in South Dakota.

If you like taking chances, let’s stop you now. Don’t try to drive your RV through this tunnel. Here’s why.

What Is Needles Eye Tunnel?

Named for the unique granite “needles” throughout the Black Hills, Needles Eye Tunnel is next to the famous Needles Eye rock formation. This tunnel is the narrowest in South Dakota.

Because it lies within Custer State Park, you must pay a $20 fee for a 7-day vehicle tag to drive along Needles Highway.

When you reach Needles Eye Tunnel, you’ll have a tight but worthwhile squeeze to see the unbelievable scenery of the Black Hills.

Where Is Needles Eye Tunnel?

South Dakota Highway 87 in the southwestern part of the state has a 14-mile portion called Needles Highway.

It makes up part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop takes part of this route. 

You’ll find Needles Eye Tunnel on this scenic drive between Little Devil’s Tower Trailhead and Cathedral Spires Trailhead on Highway 87. Throughout, you’ll experience switchbacks and pin hair turns. It’s a beautiful trip, but not for the faint of heart.

View of needles eye tunnel

Is Needles Eye Tunnel One Way?

The one-way tunnel allows traffic from both directions to pass through. If you meet oncoming cars, you’ll just need to wait until the coast is clear to pass through this very small space safely. 

If you drive from north to south, you’ll pass through Needles Eye Tunnel at the end of Needles Highway, making it something like a grand finale on your beautiful scenic drive.

Can You Drive an RV Through Needles Eye Tunnel?

Needles Eye Tunnel measures 8 feet 9 inches wide by 9 feet 8 inches high. This means RVs cannot safely travel through. In addition, Iron Creek Tunnel is also located on the highway. It measures 8 feet 9 inches wide by 10 feet 10 inches high. 

However, Needles Highway is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the country. You won’t want to miss it if traveling in the area.

Find a campground and stay for at least a night so you can take this highway and enjoy the stunning scenery without your RV.

View of needles eye tunnel highway

Where to Park Your RV Near Needles Eye Tunnel

You don’t need to rush your visit to Needles Eye Tunnel. Don’t make it just a detour to drive through one day.

Book a campsite and spend at least a few days enjoying the area. Here are a few campgrounds where you can set up camp and enjoy the views.

Game Lodge Campground

Address: 13399 US-16A, Custer, SD 57730

Google Rating: 4.8/5

Rate: $26-30

The Grace Coolidge Creek flows through the Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park into a swimming beach near the playground. It has 59 campsites, including two ADA campsites. 

Other amenities include a restaurant, Buffalo Safari Jeep rides, a gift shop, a laundromat, fishing licenses, and fuel.

You can commonly see roaming buffalo and other wildlife here. The Needles Eye Tunnel lies about 40 minutes from the campground.

Pro Tip: Did you know South Dakota is a common state for RVers to pick as their residential state while on the road? Here’s How to Claim South Dakota Residency as a Full-Time RVer!

Legion Lake Campground

Address: 12958 US-16A, Custer, SD 57730

Google Rating: 4.8/5

Rate: $15-30

Located about 25 minutes from Needles Eye Tunnel in Custer State Park, you’ll find Legion Lake Campground.

Unlike the tunnel, this campground can accommodate large RVs. It has 26 campsites, and guests can take the Centennial Trail to the Badger Clark Memorial.

It also has access to nearby fishing, swimming, boating, and additional hiking trails. Additionally, the lodge rents out canoes and kayaks.

Stockade South Campground

Address: 12677 Stockade Lake Dr, Custer, SD 57730

Google Rating: 4.7/5

Rate: $15-30

Stockade South Campground offers 23 campsites about 4 miles east of the town of Custer.

Amenities include a limited-service restaurant, convenience store, gift shop, boat and water sport rentals, and fishing licenses.

This campground lies about 20 minutes from Needles Eye Tunnel in Custer State Park.

View of Black Hills from needles eye tunnel

Sylvan Lake Campground

Address: 24581 SD-87, Custer, SD 57730

Google Rating: 4.8/5

Rate: $15-30

Situated at 6,200 feet, Sylvan Lake Campground is the highest campground in Custer State Park. Sites can only accommodate RVs less than 27 feet long.

Sylvan Lake is considered the crown jewel of Custer State Park, and the campground is only a short stroll from this beautiful scene. This location has great fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.

Furthermore, Sylvan Lake Campground is the closest campground to Needles Eye Tunnel, only a mile away.

The Roost Resort

Address: 12462 US-16A, Custer, SD 57730

Google Rating: 4.7/5

Rate: $40-44

The Roost Resort offers partial and full hookups for RVers with spectacular views of the Black Hills. Additionally, you can drive 18 minutes to see the Needles Eye Tunnel.

Guests have access to a bathhouse, gathering place, community fire pits, a playground, and a basketball court. It also has a dump station on-site.

Nearby attractions include downtown Custer, Custer State Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and Wind Cave National Park.

Keep in Mind: Have you visited Mount Rushmore yet? Rumor has it there’s a 5th Face on Mount Rushmore hidden!

View of Mount Rushmore from needles eye tunnel

Play It Safe and Don’t Thread the Needle in Your RV 

You can park your RV at one of the campgrounds available near Needles Eye Tunnel.

Then take your tow vehicle and enjoy the relaxing scenic drive and some buffalo along the way. Then spend a few days exploring all that South Dakota offers.

The scenery and wildlife at each of these campgrounds are exceptional. So plan a few days or weeks to enjoy South Dakota’s beauty.

Have you ever driven through Needles Eye Tunnel?

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