Custer State Park

Custer State Park - South Dakota

Custer State Park is South Dakota’s largest and first State Park with over 71,000 beautiful acres.  There is lots to see!  No vacation to visit Mount Rushmore would be complete without touring nearby Custer State Park.  With wildlife, lakes, lodges, cabins, hiking and more, don’t be in a hurry to leave.

The rock climbing in the Needles of Custer State Park is a great adventure for both beginner families and skilled climbers.  Check out our climbing courses.

While you are here, there are so many other things to do you will come back to the Black Hills of South Dakota again and again.  Here are a few teasers…we will be adding more content to our new site soon.

  • Custer State Park Wildlife – Living here in the Black Hills we see wildlife every day.  Herds of deer, buffalo, elk, flocks of turkey and more.
  • Custer State Park Drives – Auto touring is alive and well in South Dakota.  Take a tour today.
    • Needles Highway – Wind through tunnels and spectacular rock formations.
    • Wildlife Loop Road – Look for bison, deer, antelope, elk or just enjoy the scenery.  This 18 mile loop is a great auto tour.  Be sure to stop in the new Peter Norbeck Visitor Center and watch the film staring the Bison of Custer State Park and our own Cheryl who was filmed climbing in the Cathedral Spires. 
    • Iron Mountain Road – Winds through the Black Hills National Forest connecting Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  It is famous for its “Pigtail Bridges” and narrow tunnels that frame views of Mount Rushmore.
  • Custer State Park Lodging, Cabins and Camping – From presidential lodging to A-1 tent sites and everything in between, Custer State Park has a place for you to stay.
  • Hikes – Hiking in the trees to Black Elk Peak (formerly Harney Peak) or Little Devils Tower is a South Dakota vacation treat to be enjoyed.  Check out other suggested hikes below.
  • A little brook trout
    A little brook trout.
    Lakes and fishing – There are several beautiful lakes in Custer State Park to enjoy an afternoon of fishing or just a refreshing dip and a picnic on the rocks.
    • Sylvan Lake – Our meeting place for climbing courses in Custer State Park.  Cool off with a swim after your day climbing with Sylvan Rocks.
    • Center Lake – Just up the road from the Black Hills Playhouse.  There are plenty of great campsites near the lake.
    • Stockade Lake – Custer State Park’s largest lake is just 3 miles east of the town of Custer.
    • Legion Lake – Great stop for a swim and a bite to eat on the patio of the Legion Lake Lodge.
  • BUFFALO ARE DANGEROUS DO NOT APPROACH – Many people have been seriously injured trying to get to close to the bison.  After nearly getting killed myself by a bison while on a motorcycle, I’d recommend staying in your car when they are around.

Call 605-484-7585 to make your rock climbing reservations today.

Hiking Custer State Park

The hiking trails that begin in Custer State Park are awesome.  Stroll a few miles and let the rest of the world melt away.

Little Devils Tower Hike – 3 to 4 miles.  Can be done as part of a Black Elk Peak hike.

Black Elk Peak Hike – Get a morning start and enjoy the highest point in South Dakota.  Starting early helps avoid the crowds and the afternoon thunder storms.

Lovers Leap Hike  – This trail has recently been improved and has always been worth the time.

Sunday Gulch – I like to hike this one clockwise so that I can climb up the canyon back to Sylvan Lake.

Prairie Trail Hike – Can be a real hot one in the summer, but REALLY awesome spring and fall.

Cathedral Spires Hike – Follow in the footsteps of Jan and Herb Conn and get closer to the Cathedral Spires.

burros of custer state park

Burros of Custer State Park

The Burros of Custer State Park are often found along the Wildlife Loop auto tour and will happily stick their heads into your vehicle, eat about anything you offer them and leave you with a great gob of donkey spit. Is that a great deal or what?