What’s the secret to having your best summer yet? It’s simple: Plan a trip to Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With historic lodges, outstanding scenic byways, pristine mountain lakes, abundant wildlife, and the region’s top trails, Custer State Park has all the makings for an unforgettable family getaway.
It’s easy to get to the park, located just 25 miles south of Rapid City in western South Dakota.
Rest Up For Adventure
Make plans to stay in Custer State Park, so your next great adventure is right outside your door. The park has five historic lodges, all with modern amenities.
Is camping more your pace? Nine campgrounds can accommodate RVs and tents. Set up camp in secluded ponderosa pine forests or near a mountain lake. Or relax in camping cabins throughout the park.
Trip Tip: Want to secure a campground site? Make reservations online or call 1-800-710-2267.
Live On The Wild Side
Watching a baby bison scurry to its herd, spotting white-tailed deer frolicking through prairie grass, and laughing at the playful antics of prairie dogs—does it get any better? Critters like mountain goats, elk, and bighorn sheep roam free in Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres. It’s easy to spot them along trails, in the campgrounds, and beside the road.
Meet the park’s herd of 1,300 bison—the second-largest public free-roaming herd in the U.S.
Trip Tip: Your best chance for seeing animals is on Wildlife Loop Road, which winds through prime sighting spots in the park.
Trade Screen Time For Windshield Time
Prepare to pick your jaw up from the floor after driving through the park’s scenic highways and byways. The 70-mile Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway threads its way around pigtail bridges and through one-lane rock-walled tunnels. You’ll even catch a glimpse of Mount Rushmore.
Trip Tip: Peter Norbeck advised, “You’re not supposed to drive here at 60 miles an hour. To do the scenery half justice, people should drive 20 or under…”
Hit The Water
Relax on a warm summer day at one of Custer State Park’s four alpine lakes. Cast a line for a chance to catch that trophy trout. The lakes offer nearly 182 acres of crystal blue water and are home to several species of fish.
Trip Tip: Don’t have room to pack your canoe? Rent canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards. They even provide life jackets.
Get Some Dirt On Your Boots
Whether you’re looking to hike to the tallest peak east of the Rocky Mountains, or you want to take an easy ramble in the woods, it’s safe to say you’ll have plenty of options. Pick from 14 scenic hiking trails that wind through the park’s forested mountains and expansive prairies.
Trip Tip: Stop into one of the park’s visitor centers before heading out for trail maps and recommendations.
There’s so much to see and do in South Dakota, and always a new way to experience everything this region has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip today.