A go to to Custer State Park is ticking off one of many finest locations within the USA. It’s not solely crammed with stunning views, however it is usually a complete wildlife vacation spot. You’ll spot all the things from prairie canine and bighorn sheep to cute white-tailed deer, and mule deer. However the star attraction is certainly its herds of bison. Located within the Black Hills of South Dakota, the 71,000 acres state park can also be unbelievable for climbing trails and scenic drives. In case you love outside actions and spectacular views will love these finest issues to do in Custer State Park. I do know we did.
High Issues to Do in Custer State Park
This information has amazingly memorable issues to do in Custer State Park. Whether or not you choose to go to Stockade Lake or Middle Lake, Cathedral Spires Path, or Wildlife Loop Street, we’ve received top-tier actions lined up. Are you prepared to begin planning? Let’s go.
Ebook this non-public tour to see the highest South Dakota points of interest in someday. Let your private information choose you up at your resort to see three South Dakota landmarks together with Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore and Loopy Horse. Ebook it right here.
1. Sylvan Lake Shore Path
Sylvan Lake Shore Path is likely one of the hottest issues to do in Custer State Park. The climbing path laps Sylvan Lake, the prettiest of Custer State Park’s lakes. With large grey rock formations and woodland that spills proper as much as the shoreline in components, Sylvan Lake is well recognizable.
Sylvan Lake is so stunning that it caught the attention of film producers and was used as a set within the Nicolas Cage film ‘Nationwide Treasure 2: Ebook of Secrets and techniques’. (Watch it on Amazon) You possibly can take these views in for your self with a fast hike on the Sylvan Lake Shore Path.
The Sylvan Lake Shore Path takes 40-60 minutes to finish and is a complete breeze to hike. The route is flat and simple to navigate – appropriate for households with babies or vacationers wanting a fast climbing path. There are lots of pure stopping factors across the path as effectively. Sylvan Lake has a spot the place you’ll be able to sunbathe with a seaside towel. And the shallow shoreline is ideal for paddling to chill off from the hike. At Sylvan Lake, guests additionally boat and fish. In order for you a luxurious deal with after your stroll, Sylvan Lake Lodge is on the market for high quality eating.
South Dakota is residence to a few of the most stunning landscapes within the USA, guide this sizzling air balloon flight to see the Black Hills from above. Get pleasure from a champagne toast and expertise South Dakota from the sky. Particulars right here.
2. Middle Lake
Middle Lake is the place to go to to keep away from crowds, not be a part of them. Whereas Sylvan Lake is its flashy neighbor, this lake is the lady subsequent door. The lake has its personal campground – Middle Lake Campground – the place you’ll be able to camp or get pleasure from leisure services. And the lake is about scenically amidst Ponderosa pines. Visiting Middle Lake is likely one of the finest issues to do in Custer State Park: sit down and luxuriate in lake views in peace and quiet.
Since this lake is a little bit smaller than most different lakes in Custer State Park, its water warms up a lot sooner. This implies you could head for a mid-morning swim fairly simply. It’s excellent for these wanting a fast dip to begin their day, because the water is heat and the crowds are nearly non-existent.
In contrast to Sylvan Lake, Middle Lake is best for its ambiance than any of its actions. You possibly can nonetheless stroll across the lake and benefit from the water, however its primary draw is its peaceable ambiance. Carry a picnic and a guide and curl up by the shoreline.
3. Iron Mountain Street
Iron Mountain Street is likely one of the finest scenic drives within the state park. The street has 314 dramatic switchback turns and passes by way of 3 tunnels. Iron Mountain Street is fascinating to drive, and this little street journey is likely one of the finest issues to do in Custer State Park. You’ll wish to hop out each couple of minutes to snap photos. It’s the form of street you’ll be able to think about drone footage of – with curved switchbacks that appear like one thing straight out of a journey journal.
Iron Mountain Street takes round 60 minutes to drive. Nonetheless, we propose permitting a few hours so you’ll be able to cease as many occasions as you need. Iron Mountain Street is likely one of the most well-known within the USA, not to mention the Black Hills. Benefit from the photogenic sections and hop out to snap photographs. Be certain to cease at Mount Rushmore Nationwide Memorial as effectively, which is positioned alongside this street.
Logistically you’ll doubtless use Iron Mountain Street to entry a few of your deliberate points of interest. However double-check, and make time to drive this thrilling stretch of street if not. It’s value noting that this street is extra arduous with lengthy autos like RVs due to all of the tight turns. In case you determine to enterprise alongside this street with such a car, enable double the time as a precaution so you’ll be able to take it good and regular.
Choose up this guided audio driving tour as you self drive by way of the Black Hills and Mt Rushmore. Discover at your individual tempo with an easy-to-use, downloadable app. If you want to hire a automotive, try RentalCars.com to match automotive rental costs.
4. Cathedral Spires Path
Cathedral Spires Path is likely one of the finest issues to do in Custer State Park in order for you a difficult hike. The path is 1.5 miles a technique and takes round an hour to finish. Regardless of its quick size, it is likely one of the most strenuous climbing trails and will solely be tried by hikers with correct apparel. Cathedral Spires Path is certainly a late spring and summer time hike as effectively since snowfall renders the path too slippery.
The hike begins by approaching the gorgeous Cathedral Spire rock formations, simply into the sky en masse in pointed pinnacles. As you get nearer, the terrain then switches. You make your method up the rocks through quick scrambles. There are sections of unmarked trails the place you climb up the rock faces.
Cathedral Spires Path’s primary draw is the scrambles’ pleasure and delightful views. Custer State Park is understood for its basic views – just like the rock formations round Sylvan Lake. Cathedral Spires is one other one of many park’s finest views. The rocky pinnacles are a photogenic phenomenon and are excellent for sightseeing.
Ebook today journey to the Black Hills that features and full day of sightseeing. Take within the views of its rock formations, canyons and lakes as you study concerning the areas wealthy historical past together with Custer’s expedition to the world in 1874. See extra particulars right here.
5. Wildlife Loop Street
It’s inconceivable to not love Wildlife Loop Street. It’s the better of Custer State Park’s scenic drives for wildlife sightings and takes between an hour and two hours to drive. The street loops by way of grasslands and passes herds and herds of bison, mule deer, and elk. Pack a pair of binoculars, too, as a result of you’ll be able to usually catch sightings of lurking prairie canine, coyotes, and overhead eagles and hawks. Wildlife Loop Street in Custer State Park’s very personal safari expertise. Ebook this jeep safari upfront.
The street is just 18 miles lengthy. Nonetheless, there’s a velocity restrict of 25 miles per hour due to the variety of animals that stray alongside and on the street. Belief us, it’s in your finest pursuits to abide by this, as a rogue bison can harm your car. We recommend bringing snacks and refreshments and preserving it regular to get probably the most out of Wildlife Loop Street.
As a aspect observe, you’ll be able to guide a guided safari expertise for those who don’t fancy the drive. You head out in 4WD jeeps and are assured to rise up and near a few of the most spectacular animals in Custer State Park. These jeep excursions are just like the African safari experiences and a enjoyable approach to enterprise out round Custer State Park. With open sides, you might have unobstructed views of the encircling wildlife, and you’ve got the enjoyment of sitting again and having fun with the drive as a passenger. Extra particulars right here.
6. Little Devils Tower Path
Little Devils Tower is likely one of the finest hikes within the park. For knowledgeable hikers, don’t hesitate so as to add it to your Custer State Park listing of issues to do. The three.8 miles out and again path is reasonably difficult and takes round 3 hours to finish. The elevation acquire is the trickiest half, as you acquire roughly 700 toes, primarily within the hike’s last quarter. You scramble up rocks, searching for the blue-painted triangles that sign the proper path. And on the high, you get 360-degree views over the Black Hills and surrounding surroundings.
The highest of Little Devils Tower pokes out as a grey mound from the highest of the Ponderosa pine timber. It’s the final vantage level and stands at 2,121 meters in top. Nonetheless, it is usually a stunning pure landmark near Black Elk Peak and Cathedral Spires. In the event that they really feel bold, many individuals sort out two of the three important landmarks collectively and even all three directly. While you attain the summit, you’ll get views of the opposite two, so hold an eye fixed out.
Little Satan is likely one of the finest climbing trails to keep away from crowds. It’s a lot much less busy than Cathedral Spires Path, so that you received’t be climbing in a monotonous line of different hikers. Nonetheless, we propose strolling Little Satan within the early morning to beat the noon temperatures. In case you plan to sort out Little Satan with Cathedral Spires or Black Elk Peak, set off as early as potential to provide your self enough time.
7. Legion Lake
Legion Lake is a sleepy retreat that coined its title from a former American Legion publish. The resort lake is filled with cabins and sometimes fairly tacky actions. You don’t must be a visitor to get pleasure from Legion Lake, although, and you’ll simply pop in to benefit from the pleasant vibe and water actions. Legion Lake Normal Retailer additionally sells fishing licenses and park passes – one thing to think about if you’re close by and must tick off buying these important paperwork.
Legion Lake has the Custer State Park’s trademark gray rock formations stretching proper into the lake’s waters. Surrounded by pines, it’s a shaded and peaceable spot blessed with loads of pure magnificence. It is a superb place to go to and loosen up, quite than heading to Sylvan Lake and frog-marching round on the Sylvan Lake Shore Path. You possibly can hire a kayak or paddleboard to get pleasure from Legion Lake from the water. Alternatively, camp on one in every of its sandy shores with a seaside towel or try Legion Lake Lodge.
8. Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway is the last word street journey and one of many high issues to do in Custer State Park. The 70-mile route encompasses a bit of Custer State Park’s different scenic drives, together with Iron Mountain and Needles Freeway. If you wish to mix these drives into one expertise, we suggest noting down Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.
The byway passes customer facilities, the Needles, Mount Rushmore, and plenty of wildlife – together with mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Curling your method by way of gray rock formations that spike into the street and pressure weird turns and quirky tunnels, driving the byway is a memorable exercise in Custer State Park. It may be pushed in 3-4 hours, however actually, enable your self the entire day to get pleasure from it. The very last thing you need is to really feel rushed.
Keep alert whereas driving this scenic byway. A slowing motorist might act instantly due to animals or an surprising flip forward. The wacky collection of curves and tunnels additionally demand a excessive focus degree. Contemplate switching between drivers for those who suppose you’ll be drained.
9. Needles Freeway
Needles Freeway is one other unbelievable one of many scenic drives in Custer State Park. It’s most well-known for the Needles Eye Tunnel – a tiny gap in a granite spire that means that you can narrowly squeeze by way of in a car. It’s a seemingly inconceivable feat till you emerge from the opposite aspect. You’ll find hilarious movies of individuals making an attempt to suit varied autos by way of the tunnel on-line.
Other than the Needles Eye Tunnel, although, the Needles Freeway is likely one of the most stunning routes in Custer State Park. It takes round 60 minutes to finish and has many points of interest alongside the way in which. Iron Creek Tunnel is one other famously slim tunnel alongside Needles Freeway, measuring 8’9″ large.
If you wish to admire rock formations and dramatic geographical landscapes, drive Needles Freeway. When visiting Custer State Park, driving the Needles Freeway is a ceremony of passage. It’s family-friendly as effectively; simply anticipate the shrieks of pleasure out of your children as you attempt to squeeze by way of a few of the tunnels. When visiting with children, test the customer heart for info on the Pups Program, which helps kids aged 4-6 study extra concerning the state park.
10. Black Elk Peak
Visiting Black Elk Peak is likely one of the finest issues to do close to Custer State Park. Black Elk Peak is the very best pure level in Dakota – e.g., very tall. When visiting Custer State Park, you’ll be able to scale Black Elk Peak as a day journey exercise. There are quite a few routes as much as the highest, all of which give gorgeous views and may mix different points of interest alongside the way in which, like Cathedral Spires.
We suggest Black Elk Peak Path from Lake Sylvan, alongside which you’ll select between trails 4 or 9. For the best hike, choose the much less steep Path 4 on the way in which up and Path 9 on the way in which down and deal with Black Elk Peak as a loop hike.
The 7-mile Black Elk Peak Path begins on the shores of Lake Sylvan. It takes round 5-6 hours in complete for the typical hiker. Nonetheless, it’s sensible to permit your self an additional couple of hours simply in case it takes longer than anticipated. You will have stunning viewpoints staggered all through the path each mile or so, which ought to hold you motivated. Carry snacks and loads of refreshments to get pleasure from on these pure breaks. The ultimate viewpoint at Black Elk Peak summit is gorgeous. You get 360-degree views and expansive views of the Black Hills and even the encircling states on the horizon.
11. Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore is likely one of the most unmissable issues to do in Custer State Park. The massive cliff-face is an iconic vacation spot and landmark – recognized worldwide and featured in numerous films. Mount Rushmore dons the 4 faces of distinguished presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The faces of those presidents are minimize into the rock in 60-foot-tall carvings. Mount Rushmore has develop into a spot of utmost patriotism and a marker of the USA’s political historical past.
Ebook this tour that features Mount Rushmore and Black Hills from Fast Metropolis that features Two Meals and a music selection present. Now that’s enjoyable!
Visiting Mount Rushmore is a should when within the Black Hills area. Over 2 million guests come every year, primarily between June to August, and 9 am and three pm if you wish to give the crowds a miss. It’s a kind of well-known landmarks which can be truly well worth the hype. So add it to your itinerary exterior of peak hours and circle it as a must-visit attraction.
In case you go to Mount Rushmore, add a detour to the Loopy Horse Memorial. Solely 16 miles away, it’s a large memorial devoted to Lakota Sioux warrior Loopy Horse. It’s value noting that by driving to Mount Rushmore, you’ll even be finishing the Iron Mountain scenic drive. Discuss killing two birds with one stone.
Contemplating that Loopy Horse Memorial, Iron Mountain Drive, and Mount Rushmore go so effectively collectively, we propose permitting an entire day to finish all three collectively. This premiere non-public tour consists of sightseeing by way of the Black Hills together with Mt Rushmore, Loopy Horse and Custer State Park. Full particulars right here.
12. Go Horseback Using
Horseback driving is a superb approach to expertise Custer State Park. Horses can get to all of the locations the place autos can’t go and sooner than an individual might ever hike it – excellent. You possibly can channel your interior cowgirl or cowboy on a experience by way of Custer State Park. The quantity of wildlife the park has is simply an enormous additional bonus. S
potting bison and prairie canine from horseback is a lot extra particular. And never solely will you recognize the expertise extra from horseback, however you’ll even be extra more likely to get near wild animals. Horseback driving excursions are a superb approach to go sightseeing wildlife in Custer State Park.
The most effective stables inside Custer State Park is Blue Bell Stables at Blue Bell Lodge. It runs guided path rides that vary from 1-hour introductory rides to full-day rides for extra skilled riders. The hour-long rides embody a jaunt at a stroll and trot to the close by French Creek. The hour-long rides normally have heron and deer sightings.
Half-day rides are extra tailor-made in the direction of bison sightings and take you briefly to Wildlife Loop. Full-day rides take you on a 6-hour expertise to search out much more animals. You head by way of French Creek, out to Wildlife Loop, and right down to Parker Canyon – the place you’ll have lunch.
Horseback driving season in Custer State Park is primarily from Could to September. Bear this season in thoughts when reserving if horseback driving is one thing you’re actually dying to do. For these wanting an much more ‘Western’ expertise, think about a wrangler place for a season. Blue Bell Lodge takes on wranglers every season, which is ideal for these trying to go to the state park for a way more prolonged interval.
13. Badlands Nationwide Park
For scenic viewpoint after scenic viewpoint, take a day trip of the state park perimeters and enterprise to Badlands Nationwide Park. This nationwide park is likely one of the finest nationwide parks within the USA. Out of all of the nationwide parks, it stands out most for its prairie wildlife and layered rock formations.
Ebook this non-public Badlands Package deal the place your non-public information reveals the very best of Badlands Nationwide Park drive with a cease at Wall Drug, the ghost city of Scenic, and the Minuteman Missile Web site.
Its 242,756 acres are jam-packed with climbing trails and street journey routes. Simply an hour and quarter-hour away, it’s a breeze to mix with a vacation in Custer State Park. Learn all about it at The Greatest Issues to Do in Badlands Nationwide Park
Wildlife sightings are unending in Badlands Nationwide Park. The nationwide park has bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie canine. Just like the Wildlife Loop Street, Badlands is an absolute mecca for the animal kingdom.
It’s also possible to go to a few of the finest fossil beds on the planet – a few of which protect historical mammal stays just like the saber-toothed tiger. This park has a lot nature, be it pure historical past or dwelling animals to identify. The Fossil Discovery Path is the very best place to identify fossils within the park, and you’ll test on-line to see when paleontology talks are working.
In case you solely have a day in Badlands Nationwide Park, we propose finishing the Badlands Loop Street and stopping on the a number of overlooks. Roberts Prairie Canine City can also be a spotlight on this loop street, and the entire expertise takes round 3 hours.
14. Rock Climbing
Rock climbers will love Custer State Park. The park is an absolute dream for mountaineering. There are fairly actually rock formations in every single place. In actual fact, the rock formations are largely what brings Custer State Park its fame. The park has spectacular views, and if you’re up for an energetic half-day, add climbing to your Custer State Park itinerary.
There are some areas the place skilled rock climbers can climb independently. In case you get caught on which spots to decide on, you’ll be able to all the time head to a customer heart and get some recommendation. Nonetheless, we propose reserving a climbing tour. With a tour, you’ll all the time have a information with you. This manner, it doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or can scale the trickiest sections along with your eyes shut. You will get useful ideas along with your method and knowledgeable introductions and explanations of the area.
A number of the most well-known mountaineering areas in Custer State Park embody the Needles, Spearfish Canyon, and the close by Mount Rushmore.
15. Massive Thunder Gold Mine
Massive Thunder Gold Mine is likely one of the most historic issues to do close to Custer State Park. The 1895 gold mine is a 30-minute drive from the park’s primary customer facilities. The mine is ideal for a day journey away from Custer State Park and perception into the area’s industrial days. The eye to element is immense. Massive Thunder Gold Mine has an enormous historic goldmine, reconstructed to be protected for informative visits. It additionally has an 1895-built gold mill. The entire attraction is filled with informative displays and useful guides.
Guests get their fingers effectively and really soiled, too, donning yellow hats to go into reconstructed mine shafts themselves. You possibly can even become involved with actions like gold panning as effectively. Massive Thunder Gold Mine is a very immersive approach to embrace the historical past surrounding Custer State Park.
We recommend reserving upfront to keep away from experiences being booked out. Doing a mine tour and gold panning expertise in a single go to is possible. It’s good too, as this manner guests get to take part firsthand in each strategies. Most excitingly, you get to maintain no matter you discover within the gold panning.
Custer State Park FAQs
Now that we’ve coated probably the most notable 15 issues to do in Custer State Park, let’s take a look at some frequent FAQs. These are the important bits of knowledge that you want to go to Custer State Park.
The best way to Get to Custer State Park
One of the best ways to get to Custer State Park is by airplane after which by automotive. Fast Metropolis Regional Airport has connecting flights to locations all around the USA. It’s round an hour’s drive away from Custer State Park. You possibly can rent a automotive on the airport after which drive to one of many cities across the park’s outskirts. Assuming you keep in both Custer, Keystone, or Hill Metropolis, it is going to take 5 and half-hour to succeed in the state park by automotive. Verify Rental Automotive Costs right here.
In case you can’t rent or carry a automotive, you might fly into Fast Metropolis Regional Airport, switch to Custer, and cycle to Custer State Park. The bike experience from Custer takes round 20 minutes, and you might then depart your bike someplace protected (just like the customer facilities) or use it to discover the park’s bike paths.
For these with loads of time on their fingers, it may very well be enjoyable to street journey to Custer State Park. South Dakota has fascinating points of interest, and you might create an unbelievable street journey itinerary.
Getting Round Custer State Park
One of the best ways to get round Custer State Park is by automotive. Not solely is the park 71,000 acres in measurement (too huge to realistically navigate solely on foot), however the herds of bison and different wildlife are finest noticed from safely inside a car. We recommend saving the strolling for particular climbing trails. Plus, utilizing a automotive to get round Custer State Park, you’ll be able to get pleasure from scenic drives like Needles Freeway and Iron Mountain Street.
It’s potential to discover many of the park by bike. Custer has many bicycle rent retailers within the metropolis heart, so you’ll be able to nip in and rent one for so long as you want. Many retailers even have energy bikes, which give assisted biking – excellent for tackling steep hills, particularly for those who aren’t normally a bicycle owner.
Custer State Park additionally has shuttle companies and guided excursions you could buy. This extremely rated tour provides a personal full-day sightseeing expertise from Fast Metropolis. As you’ll be able to see, it combines Mount Rushmore, Loopy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park, which is comparatively frequent however could be bold if driving your self. In case you are staying in a recreation lodge, it could additionally supply shuttle companies and excursions.
The Greatest Time to Go to Custer State Park
June is the very best time to go to Custer State Park. June is heat, with highs of 76 Fahrenheit and plentiful wildlife sightings. It is usually quieter, with fewer crowds than in July or August. It’s shoulder season and probably the greatest months for a stress-free go to to Custer State Park. You possibly can simply discover lodging at a recreation lodge or discover a spacious plot at a campground. And points of interest received’t be as busy as they’ll within the top of summer time.
In case you want a wider window, Could to September is the overall tourism season in Custer State Park. Throughout this era, you’ll be able to get pleasure from climbing trails with out snow and in heat temperatures. Custer State Park can also be probably the greatest wildlife locations from Could to September. It is filled with mountain goats, prairie canine, and mule deer.
In fact, the very best time to go to does depend upon what issues to do in Custer State Park you wish to do. In case you plan to go to Custer State Park in September, you’ll be able to attend the Custer State Park Buffalo Spherical Up and Arts Competition.
You possibly can guide Spherical-Up tickets upfront. It occurs solely every year. Safe your spot for the annual Buffalo Roundup that takes place on the final Friday of September. This full-day tour picks you up from Raid Metropolis the place you’ll get pleasure from a continental breakfast, picnic lunch, and sightseeing to Sylvan Lake, Iron Mountain Street, and Needles Freeway.
If you wish to spot wildflowers (just like the state flower of South Dakota, Pasqueflowers), go to in April, Could, or June. Sunday Gulch Path.
The issues to do in Custer State Park are thrilling and ideal for the outside lover. The 71,000 acres are filled with pure magnificence and are a unbelievable base to understand the Black Hills of South Dakota. The park is someplace to hike, hunt, sightsee, and discover. You possibly can choose a state recreation lodge or discover a romantic little cabin to make use of as a base for a climbing or mountaineering vacation.
In search of inspiration for locations and issues to do close to Custer State Park? Listed here are our guides on issues to do in Deadwood, the high 8 South Dakota points of interest, plus some photographic proof that South Dakota is likely one of the most stunning locations on the planet. After you go to Custer State Park, enable loads of time to sightsee the remainder of the attractive state.
Plan Your Subsequent Journey To South Dakota With These Assets