Custer State Park
Custer State Park
5
About
One of South Dakota’s most iconic landmarks, this park stands out for its granite peaks, rolling grasslands, and clear mountain waters. Stretching over 71,000 acres, Custer is home to abundant wildlife like bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and more. Drive down Wildlife Loop Road to spot the begging burros (they approach vehicles for food), hike the Little Devils Tower Trail for a bird’s eye view of the area, and go swimming or boating in one of its five lakes. With warm days and cool nights, summer is an ideal time to visit Custer. Don't miss out on exploring the rest of the Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore. – Tripadvisor
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  • MSpall
    65 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great for all ages
    Fabulous, beautiful park with enjoyment for all ages. We enjoyed a picnic on Sylvan Lake and explored the surrounding area. There is a small beach there as well. We also traveled the Wildlife Loop and saw deer and bison.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 17, 2023
  • Judy A
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Custer State Park: a gem!
    First night stayed at Sylvan Lodge. Gab in the dining room was fabulous. Customer focused and accommodating. Subsequent nights stayed at Game Lodge. Chevy at front desk helped remove issues and make it a great experience. Very focused on us! Leigh in the dining room was fabulous! Made the evening fun and a great experience. Liz was our safari tour guide. Very knowledgeable and took us “off road” to ensure we saw all the local wildlife! Great experience all around. Custer state park is a gem!!!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 23, 2023
  • Tom M
    Hobart, Indiana68 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Two Great Days
    The changes in terrain within one park are hard to describe. Flat grasslands, rolling hills, beautiful lakes, and amazing rock formations are all within roughly 30 minutes of one another. I spent most of two days here, and while I didn't experience the wildlife that many have, I loved every minute of this amazingly beautiful place.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 24, 2023
  • Trip A
    7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Don't Miss Custer State Park
    We had no idea how nice this park is with so much to see and do. We stayed in three different lodges (all great). Expanded our trip from 2 days to 4 days and took advantage of the many options including the Jeep safari tour and chuck wagon dinner. Just a short drive from Mt Rushmore and Wind Cave Nat'l Park.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 24, 2023
  • Julie H
    72 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Can’t say enough good stuff about this park!
    Can’t say enough good stuff about this wonderful park! Grew up going with family on summer vacations to SD and always visited Custer Park. My husband and I continue to visit SD and Custer Park every few years. It never gets old. Along the scenic wildlife drive, you are always sure to see buffalo, pronghorn antelope, donkeys, goats (sometimes) and of course the prairie dogs. One wonderful surprise this year was the new (as of 2022) Buffalo Center that is located halfway thru the drive. It is free to wander thru the exhibits - and was so interesting. We also enjoyed lunch on their beautiful deck. Bought lunch from the onsite chuckwagon and it was the best pulled pork sandwich we have ever had!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 28, 2023
  • gerri624
    Sylvan Beach, New York176 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing!
    A must do when visiting the area. We didn't stay in the park but drove through. It is so beautiful and so hard to describe. There is rolling hills, amazing rock formations, granite peaks and lakes. There are several spots where you can pull over and just take it all in. There is plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas and swimming. My only disappointment is that we didn't see any bison. I was told after we left the park that the attendant at the gate could of told us where their whereabouts was the day we visited. Be sure you ask when entering the park.
    Visited July 2023
    Written July 30, 2023
  • Deb K
    33 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Nature's Beauty
    Beautiful park. Slow down and LOOK; don't race from place to place and you will see the beauty of the Needles, the enormity of the mountains and the vastness of Ponderosa pines in one park. Elk, mule deer, whitetail, bison, prairie dogs...and mountain goats (which we didn't see). Oh, and the burros which are obnoxious freeloaders but popular with the public. I love these parks where you are not promised entertainment. Just look around and imagine being one of the first to cross it and try to describe the panorama.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 1, 2023
  • Villagesre
    The Villages, Florida1,197 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Excellent State Park to Visit
    So much to do and see in this state park. I will include a photo of the map of the Custer State Park. Excellent roads and views, several places to stop for a meal, lakes, hiking , fishing, boating, etc. Easy to spend several days in this area. I believe it was $20.00 per automobile, and the pass is good for a week.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written August 5, 2023
  • esprouls47
    Wadesville, Indiana248 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Do not miss this experience.
    This review is just for the wildlife loop portion of Custer Stare Park. We entered on the east entrance near where loop starts. We saw over 300 bison early on the road. Later saw pronghorns very close. The drive is beautiful though out. It took about 1.5 hours. Start early as it can get crowded in the afternoon.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written August 7, 2023
  • Hammertime
    Washougal, Washington175 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful Park-full of wildlife
    Beautiful park. Workers and park rangers friendly and helpful. Lodges well maintained although the stores don't have much in the way of useful items. ie: s'more kits, milk, bread. They're more like gift shops. The lake water at Legion is crystal clear and perfect for fishing, kayaking or swimming. Beautiful beach so bring the sand toys. There is an easy hike around the lake also. The hike around Stockade Lake is a little harder but the view is worth it.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 8, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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5.0
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Audra C
Vineland, NJ568 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020 • Family
We opted for a week pass for 20 bucks and we viewed bison safely from a distance, fed carrots 🥕 to the Begging burros, did several hiking trails around Sylvan Lake and Stockade Lake, and went canoeing at Legion Lake as well as hiking there. The only negatives were that some trails we wanted to hike had no markings and we ended up doing other hiking trails closer to the lakes that were well marked. The other negative thing is that we were able to do almost all of the stockade lake trail but had to turn around and go back when we got to a point on the trail where all of it was surrounded by a sea of poison ivy. Views at the top though of Black Elk Peak, Cathedral Spires, and Crazy Horse Memorial were awesome. This trail is rocky and moderate but doable especially if you have hiking boots and trekking poles. Sylvan lake is beautiful. Although the lake shore trail is fairly easy, my trekking poles needed to be tightened, and in one area of the trail there are high boulders that you need to scale and going backwards with not being able to see and having to not rely on my trekking poles to get me down safely was unnerving. The legion lake trail was very easy and short. Afterwards, my daughter and I went canoeing on legion lake. Have the younger lady help you though. I'm heavier even though I have lost weiight and had not been canoeing in like 18 years. The older guy helping me into the canoe gave no advice on how to get in it. Needless to say I fell out of it and cut my thumb on the side of the canoe and then I hit the side of my nose on wood going under. When I came up, my daughter said, mommy, your nose is bleeding. Anyway, it was just a scratch and with losing weight, I was determined to get back in the canoe. The second time, the guy told me to step right in the center, grab right side of the canoe with right hand, left side of the canoe with left hand, and sit right down. That piece of info would have been helpful the first time! Anyway, we had a wonderful time. A half hour was plenty and the lady helped me out of the canoe. I think her name was Hope. She was fabulous. I'm glad I did it. Be careful if you feed the Begging burros. They can be aggressive and one stepped on my husband's foot. They are wild animals after all. Saw cute prarie dogs, a huge buck, and of course herds of bison. The most disappointing thing in the park was dinner at Bluebell lodge. Eat at the state game lodge instead. Better food and service. The park is a must do in SD!
Written September 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Suzy L
Lincolnton, NC214 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
I cannot say enough wonderful things about this state park. We started early in the day (8am) and did Wildlife Loop first to make sure we had the best chance at seeing the animals. After that we traveled Needles Highway which was a highlight of the trip for me. Make sure to go all the way to Sylvan Lake to take a walk. It was just gorgeous there. We finished the day with Iron Mountain Rd which provided an amazing view of Mount Rushmore from a tunnel. I highly recommend going the end of September as the crowds were minimal and we were able to do things at our pace.
Written October 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
This is a wonderful park. We can recommend Lake Sylvan, the visitor center and education center, the wildlife loop, and Needles Highway. You can spend days here. We only were able to visit half the sites, in the day we were there. There is an entrance fee for visitors $20 for up to a week.
Written August 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Randy K
Atlanta, GA79 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
Spend several days here on an American Safari in one of the largest state parks in the country. Check out the visitors center and the movie about the park. From there do the loop road and you could see like we did some of the following mule and white tail deer, pronghorn and big horn sheep, wild burros, prairie dog towns and of course bison. We did both a solo and local guided jeep tour of the area. An array of camping and lodge accommodations suit many tastes from Sylvan and Legion Lake facilities, to the Creekside Lodge offering modern facilities to the venerable State Game Lodge where we splurged on a room used by President Calvin Coolidge. Another room was used by President Eisenhower. The Blue Belle Lodge in the woods features chuck wagon suppers. The State Game Lodge offers fine dining options with a la carte wild game and fish options. The State game Lodge also features a breakfast buffet or a la carte options. Also you can unwind in a small, but fully stocked bar. All told would go back without hesitation knowing I can relax with nature.
Written March 10, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Stephanie A
Allentown, PA10 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021 • Friends
Absolutely beautiful park with incredible facilities. Take the time to really explore all of the different portions of this magnificient place. Entry is only $20 for a pass that is good for up to 7 days. Stay on property if you possibly can, or there are a number of places outside the park that are also family friendly.
I had the best luck with the wildlife early in the mornings before the crowds build and roads get busy. Therefore, planning your visit accordingly will help immensely.
The helpful visitors guide (you will receive one from the park attendant) will point you in the direction of the various drives and trails available on the site.
Written September 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ELKW
United States11,824 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
there are 3 scenic drive in the park, the Needle highway (you can see the eye of Needle, and pass through 3 tunnels, and see the pillar rock formations), the Iron Mountain road (you can see the Mt. Rushmore when you drive from South to North, pass through 3 tunnels, 3 pig tails road), and the wildlife loop drive (you can see many bison, and some other animals if you have luck), Besides the scenic drives, there are also several lakes, some of them with spectacular rock formation, you may have some leisure walk along the lake shore, and some lakes have playground or picnic area, sand beach. There are also some historical sites and view points in the park. It is recommended to spend at least a whole full day in the park. Actually, the park admission fee ($20) is valid for 7 days, so you can spend 2 days or more in the park, and this park admission fee is also valid for other state parks, so you can go to more state parks within these 7 days.
Written February 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jerri L
Johnston, IA3,269 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Couples
Custer State Park has so many amazing sites and trails. We have visited before, but every visit is different. The park fee of $20 for a week is worth it! We spent time around Sylvan Lake hiking. There is a gift shop and restrooms, and you can rent paddle boards or kayaks. There were people fishing and a few brave souls swimming when we were there over a Memorial Day Weekend. The Sylvan Lake trail is 1 mile and is a fun, not too difficult, very scenic hike. There are other longer, more difficult likes nearby. Needles scenic Highway is another great drive! The granite spires are amazing and the views are spectacular! It takes about 45-60 minutes to enjoy. And throughout the park you can glimpse wildlife if you are watching. We saw pronghorn antelope, coyote and bison on our day trip.
Written May 31, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Thoke39
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
Custer state park was the highlight of our trip to SD! Highly recommend the wildlife loop, but be sure to ask the park ranger what area they have spotted bison in. Needles highway is amazing, but be careful if you have a large vehicle as it gets very narrow and there are a lot of one way tunnels. We stayed in Hill City and stopped on our way there to do the wildlife loop, and on the way back we took Needles highway into Custer since it was on our way home back to CO. Would definitely come back and spend some time fishing on the many lakes!
Written September 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

caribbeantraveler91
Pennsylvania1,291 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
There is so much to see in this park, you could spend hours exploring. We drove the wildlife loop, although we didn’t see much activity at the time, the landscapes are beautiful. I have to say the highlight of this trip were the burros. They were all over the road and so friendly. They would not let you leave without feeding them, which the park does not recommend. We drove the needles highway, drove through the tunnels, saw Eye of the Needle Rock and arrived at Sylvan Lake, where we followed the walking path around the lake. What a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. This park is certainly worth visiting while in South Dakota.
Written September 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mary J
Lake Geneva, WI33 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022 • Solo
This review is only for Twin/Twin room. I pd $125.00 for this room that didn't even have a table or lamp next to the bed because there wasn't any room. The sheets were the cheapest available; the mattress needed to be replaced; the blanket was so small and scratchy material(disgusting); the coverlet looked like it was an old curtain. The coverings barely covered the bed. There was only one pillow per bed so it was impossible to sit up in bed to read or watch tv. Only one person could watch tv because the other bed had no capacity to see the tv. And of course, you can't read in bed because there is no light. The sink was in the bedroom, not for style, but because there was absolutely no room in the bathroom. The shower was so small and the glass door was broken so it just sort of waved back and forth. Probably dangerous if it fell off the top track. This room (and again I'm not reviewing all the rooms, just the "Twin/Twin" room) is disgusting and a dive. Don't stay here. For the price that the lodge is charging, it should have nice accommodations.
Written May 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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