Thursday, May 9, 2013

HDR Highway - Iron Mountain Road

For the first Dakotagraph-designated "HDR Highway" I have to thank Facebook reader Michaela Mader for suggesting Iron Mountain Road in the Black Hills.

The full length of Iron Mountain Road or US Route 16A is roughly 20 miles, but the chunk of most interest to high-dynamic range photographers begins at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and climbs southeasterly up and over Iron Mountain to the junction with Forest Service Road 330 where the ghost town of Spokane is located.

Shadows in early morning light are fun to play with at Mount Rushmore.

Traveling the Iron Mountain Road is not done at high speed, with several narrow one-lane tunnels that perfectly frame Mount Rushmore and spiraling "pigtail" bridges. Both the tunnels and the rustic wood construction of the bridges make for some interesting photos.

I've described exactly how to find the Spokane ghost town and it's many buildings scattered amongst a pine-covered valley at this earlier post on Dakotagraph. Spokane is HDR heaven, so if you like shooting crumbling wooden buildings and rusty old cars you will have a great time here.

Thanks to Governor Peter Norbeck for designing the incredible scenic route, architect C.C. Gideon for the pigtail bridges, and to Michaela Mader for nominating Iron Mountain Road as an "HDR Highway." The Iron Mountain Road is combined with the Needles Highway in Custer State Park as the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.

If you enjoy Iron Mountain Road, you might be interested to know that Darrell & Christy Caldwell operate stores at each end of the route with a line of official Iron Mountain Road merchandise. You can find them at the Keystone Mall near Mount Rushmore and at the Spokane Creek Cabins and Campground on the southern end of the route.

 “We believe that Iron Mountain Road is one of the most beautiful and unique roads in America and we want to share our love and passion for this road with the world” says Christy Caldwell.  “We want to help folks experience the road the way Peter Norbeck and C.C. Gideon intended. We have designed storyboards that tell the story of the road and we have created an activity page about the road for kids.”

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