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Custer State Park Route

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Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
Custer State Park Route

Somewhere on the forums, I saw about a short cut in Custer State Park where you can cut off time. I just can't find it anymore. I looked through quite a few posts. I will only have a few hours to see this park. If coming from Rapid City, if I take Iron Mountain Road to 16a, then take the Wildlife Loop, going onto Needles hwy, with a short stop at Sylvan Lake. (I would do this in the morning)Does that cover most of the top scenery??? Then stop in Hill City for lunch at the Alpine Inn, stopping at Crazy Horse on the way back to Custer to check in at our hotel. Then seeing Mt. Rushmore that night around 8pm. Would that work? If I allot 3 hours to Custer State Park, would that be good?? Thank you.

posts: 81
reviews: 4
1. Re: Custer State Park Route

You could spend three hours in Custer State Park, but you can drive it in 1 to 1 1/2 hrs pretty easy if you don't make too many stops. Yes to your question about the trip from Rapid City to Hill City. It's beautiful. And yes to being at Mt. Rushmore at 8 pm. As a guide for time: We left Sturgis (stopped for breakfast)and went through Rapid City taking the Iron Mountain Road to Custer State Park, went though the park with 3 10 minute stops, drove the Needles Hwy, stopped for lunch and gas in Hill City, got stuck in a serious storm near Silver City (weathered it on someones front porch) for 1 1/2 hours, went back to Sturgis by way of Nemo Road and Vanocker Canyon and it took us about 6 1/2 hours.

There is wonderful map of the Badlands & Black Hills of South Dakota & Northeastern Wyoming available just about anywhere you stop or go on www.blackhillsbadlnads.com. Have a great time!

Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
2. Re: Custer State Park Route

Thank you so much. I was allotting about 3 hours to do the 3 roads and the lake without doing alot of stopping and not counting driving time to get there or any meals. I am glad to hear that it is doable.

Rapid City, SD
posts: 894
reviews: 2
3. Re: Custer State Park Route

I would disagree with being able to drive Custer State Park in 1.5 hours--at least to fully drive the Needles Highway and the Wildlife Loop. You could probably drive pretty fast and make it through in that time but add a few stops for wildlife, traffic, etc. and it's going to take a while.

The shortcut is a shortcut from Iron Mountain Road to the Needles Highway. For the route you mention, it probably won't do you much good. Go ahead and take Iron Mountain Road/16A all the way to the Wildlife Loop.

The route you mention pretty much covers the best scenery. I'd say it take you about four hours to get from Rapid City to Hill City on that route with a stop at Sylvan Lake.

Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
4. Re: Custer State Park Route

Thank you. I appreciate your help.

Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
5. Re: Custer State Park Route

I have decided to stay in Hill City rather than Rapid City. I figure this would be a better base to get up and do the Custer State Park route. It will save me some time in the morning.

Wabasha, MN
posts: 17
reviews: 10
6. Re: Custer State Park Route

We just got back from there. Did Iron Mt Rd, Custer Loop and Needles in about 3-4 hours total. Not bad. Didn't stop anywhere along the way. Custer was pretty boring. You will see buffalo before you pay to get in, then once you get into the entrance, you see a ton of buffalo and after that....NOTHING! But if you pay for the loop it also gets you into the Needles Hwy. Hill City is a nice town, not much in it. Take the 1880 train ride. It's awesome! Sit in the rear cars though or you get a little smoked out in the front cars. Worth the money.

Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
7. Re: Custer State Park Route

I was alloting about 3 hours to do the drives, with the only stops to take pictures basically, but if I go a bit over that is okay. Glad to hear that you saw alot of animals. What time do you have to start the wildlife loop to see the animals?

Also we are going to take a horseback ride at Blue Bell Stables and eat at the buffett at the State Game Lodge so we can do everything while we are there and not waste time driving back and forth to eat or do a trailride. Then after the park, we can just stop at Crazy Horse since it is right there. Maybe shop a bit in Hill City if we have time. Then do the night program at Mt. Rushmore.

I am glad that you liked the 1880 Train. I am not sure that we will have time to do that.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,076
reviews: 38
8. Re: Custer State Park Route

The earlier in the day you drive the wildlife loop, the better. We were on the road by 7am, saw lots of animals. We were also amused by the semi-tame, wild burros! They stuck there heads into the car looking for goodies! Also saw lots of people chasing after prairie dogs, very funny to watch.

3 hours should be good, you may also want to stop and do a tour of Wind Cave or do Jewel Cave which is west of Custer SD.

We enjoyed Custer State Park, but if you are going to Yellowstone, you will see so many more animals in YS, so maybe not worth spending the time in Custer State Park.

Marlton, New Jersey
posts: 1,661
reviews: 400
9. Re: Custer State Park Route

It would have been nice to see Yellowstone, but we don't really have time on this trip. Thanks for writing. I am looking forward to seeing some animals. I was to Yellowstone many years ago and it is a beautiful park, although I didn't see much wildlife when I was there, although I had a baby with me and was busy with him. I will try to see if I can get the people I am going with out on the road early.

10. Re: Custer State Park Route

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