Another thing the Needles is known for is the tourists. There are an endless number milling about, driving down the Needles Highway, and stopping, often right in the middle of the road, to take pictures of the unique rock formations. To compound the number of normal tourists, we also happened to be there the week before the Sturgis bike rally. If you are familiar with Sturgis you need no explanation. If not, well, imagine every motorcycle you've ever seen in your entire life being in the same place at the same time. The bikers travel to all manner of destinations around Sturgis while they are there, the Needles being one of them.
Normally tourists aren't that big a deal, we've definitely been places with a lot of them, but many of the spires at the Neeedles are literally right beside the road. If you happen to be climbing one of these you must prepare yourself to be treated like wildlife.
It's pretty entertaining to hear tourists within easy earshot talking about you. It's not uncommon to hear things like 'Got Him!' as a tourist quickly stops and snaps a pic. When you get to the top and look around you will most likely see a large group in the nearest pullout ready to immortalize you in their personal photo collection. Prepare to wave. You will be berated with inane comments like 'Don't jump! or 'Where's the elevator?' Thankfully you merely need to walk 5 minutes from the road to escape the madness. These tourists are remarkably lazy.
Exhibit A, here is the laziest family we encountered. Instead of walking the 30 feet to the picnic table on the nice patch of grass, they simply spread their blankets behind their cars and had a picnic in the parking lot.
The Black Hills is a pretty beautiful place, and we did take some time to play tourist ourselves, hiking around and taking pictures.
We even made it to tourist central, Mount Rushmore.
We were thankful to move on before the bike rally actually started in earnest. Little did we know that there would be no escape. Bikers had taken over every town within 100 miles of Sturgis. At our next destination, the iconic Devils Tower, the crux of each day would be making the approach through the throngs without having to stop and answer the same questions over and over again. Just keep your head down and walk fast.