Custer State Park
Custer State Park in the Black Hills encompasses 295 qkm (73,000 acres) of spectacular terrain and an abundance of wildlife.
Favorite outdoor activities include hiking 7,242-foot (2.207 m) Harney Peak, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, chuckwagon suppers and jeep rides to see the bison.
Custer State Park can serve as the headquarters for your Black Hills stay.
The park boasts scenic drives such as the Needles Highway (SD 87), which twists and turns its way past towering rock formations and through narrow tunnels. At the end of one tunnel stands the Needles Eye, a granite spire with a slit only 3 to 4 feet wide but reaching 30 to 40 feet in the air.
History and culture also abound. Walk the banks of French Creek, where Custer’s expedition first discovered gold in 1874.
Or, visit the log cabin that was home to Badger Clark, South Dakota’s first poet laureate.
Don’t be surprised if you encounter a roadblock of grazing bison in Custer State Park. A herd of 1,500 bison roams freely throughout the park, often stopping traffic along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. The herd is one of the largest in the world.
Bison can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. Historically, the animal played an essential role in the lives of the Lakota (Sioux), who relied on the “tatanka” for food, clothing and shelter.
Besides bison, the park is home to wildlife such as pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys, and a band of friendly burros.
Camping in Custer State Park
Seven campgrounds offer a variety of scenic sites.
Set up camp along a flowing stream, in the midst of pine forest, or near a mountain lake. The choice is yours! Camping fees range from $12-16 per unit. None have hookups. For reservations, call 1-800-710-CAMP (2267) or go online to www.campSD.com.
Custer State Park does not have the basic one-room camping cabins that are available in some of the other state parks. Other types of cabins, historic lodge rooms and motel units are available through the Custer State Park Resort Company. You must call 1-800-658-3530 for prices, availability and to make reservations for lodging at the resorts.
You’ll find resorts at Sylvan Lake (ph. 605-574-2561)
Legion Lake, Blue Bell and the State Game Lodge, all located within the park.
Each resort has its own flavor, ranging from the stately Game Lodge, which is listed on
the National Register of Historic Places, to the mini dude ranch at Blue Bell
Sylvan Lodge, ph. 605-574-2561
State Game Lodge & Resort: Also known as the 'Summer White House'
President Eisenhower and Coolidge once stayed here; ph. 605-255-4541
Blue Bell Lodge & Resort: WesternstyleRanch and gas station; ph. 605-255-4531