Custer State Park
If you are looking for the greatest trails, wildlife and nature preserves, and recreational areas near your Black Hills lodging, Custer State Park is what you are looking for. Located just over 15 minutes away from Keystone and the Roosevelt Inn, Custer State Park preserves the natural beauty of the Black Hills. The park itself consists of two distinct areas: (1) the northern (upper park) which is like a panhandle for the mountainous areas, Needles Highway and the Sylvan Lake area; and (2) the southern (lower park) which includes most of the park facilities and the Wildlife Loop road.
You would be wise to spend at least one full day in Custer State Park. Although famous for having one of the largest buffalo (bison) herds in the US, the park is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife. (Yes, this is where deer and antelope play, along with mountain lions, elk, prairie dogs and wild donkeys.)
The mountainous north is famous for it's spectacular scenery while the rolling hills of the south are home to most of the wildlife. Both the north and south areas have many hiking trails. Northern trails are common route into the Black Elk Wilderness and Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. The south consists of a large (73,000 acre) wildlife reserve which is largely undeveloped except for the Wildlife Loop road that brings visitors right into the wildlife habitat.
The park also has numerous concessions such as the Buffalo Safari Rides and a fly fishing school. Activities are scheduled throughout the summer months. See also sections about the Needles Highway.
Are you looking for Black Hills lodging near Custer State Park? Check out our modern and comfortable rooms that are perfect for families, couples and large groups looking to explore the Hills.
Distance from Roosevelt Inn: 12 miles via Needles Highway
Time Needed: Several hours to several days
Best Time To Go: Anytime, although Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway may be closed to wheeled vehicle traffic in winter. Early mornings and dusk are best for wildlife spotting. Some park activities, such as guided tours, are seasonal and require 24 hours notice.
Directions: US 16A west or US16A to SD 244 then US 385 south and SD 87/89 (Needles Highway) south.
Highlights: Spectacular Scenery, Wildlife, Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Boating, Camping
Description: Custer State Park is open year round and is highly recommended by both locals and frequent visitors. It has been said that Custer State Park is the equal or better than many national parks. It is the largest state park in the country and has one of the largest buffalo herds in America.
Info: 605-255-4515; HC 83, Box 70, Custer, SD 57730.