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Center Lake Campground
Ranked #21 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Custer
Reviewed June 28, 2014

My husband and I were there in the mid 90's when we were dating, and decided to bring our 3 boys back. We stayed in a tent in the tent only area lower loop. There are 6 large sites right on the lake with a bathroom (outhouse style toilets) and water pump nearby. The swimming beach is suffice and there are awesome walking trails through the woods (and over large rocks!) to a damn on the other side of the lake. Park staff were always scooting around in their golf carts and vehicles and were as helpful as could be.... they really seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs. I've never seem a campground that even comes close to how beautiful and peaceful this one is. The sites are in very wooded areas which makes it seem more like true camping. Our 3 boys had a blast, exploring, climbing rocks, and fishing for trout just down from our site.
My only complaint is the loud, large group that came our last day there. Our peaceful oasis was no longer peaceful. Quiet time is 11pm-6am but being we had to get up early and drive 13 hours the next day, I did have to go out at 10:30pm and ask them to please zip it. Chatter around a campfire after 10pm is ok, but yelling is not when there are families with children camping next to you. It'd be nice if the campground would make quiet time 10pm rather than 11.

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled with family
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3  Thank Nurse_Spaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 14, 2013

As we traveled cross country with our 11 and 6 year old boys, we attempted to tent camp every few nights to save money. Custer was a favorite stop so we decided to try one of the campgrounds.

We asked one of the rangers at the entrance station which campground was the most private (we really dislike public camping - we like a little privacy and quiet!). She recommended we check out Center Lake Campground.

We had no prior reservations, but it was a Monday night so we were safe. She told us there wouldn't be much of a cell signal back there, but there was a park phone at the entrance to the campground that connected us directly to the National Parks Reservation system. Very cool.

We drove around the Upper and Lower loops and decided we'd stick with the Upper Loop - farther from the lake, but definitely less full and more quiet. I used the campground phone and connected immediately to a nice reservation agent. They were able to tell me which spots were available and which were already reserved. It was a little more expensive than we expected ($25 for non-resident).

We got a great site at the top of the Upper Loop - very spacious with a nice flat spot for the tent. They have boxed, gravel tent sites all ready for you. The tall pines offered shade and a wonderful scent. There was also a nice parking pad, set off the road through the campground.

We drove the Wildlife Loop as dusk fell and returned just as it became dark. As we were getting the boys into bed, another group pulled up to the site next to us (around 9 p.m.). They were very loud as they set up their tent - four adults in their 20s. This continued until about 1 a.m. which was so rude. It ruined the feeling of the spot, but again, that's the downside to organized campgrounds vs. dispersed camping.

The pit toilets were fine - didn't smell terrible. There was potable water just a few sites away. We were able to take showers the next morning with a short drive down to the lake area and Lower Loop. The showers were free and were decent.

The beach area at Center Lake was kind of gross - lots of geese leaving their feces around, but overall it was a nice place to stop for the night. I did get one bar signal with AT&T at our campsite - enough to send texts back and forth.

All-in-all, it was a nice spot with pretty much space. Can't help how loud the neighbors get!

Room Tip: Upper Loop will be less populated if you don't mind not being right next to the lake. Group camp...
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank Jenae H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2010

I loved Custer state park. There are some beautiful drives and loads of wildlife to see. It's also very close to Wind Cave NP. This campground is tucked away in a very quiet area on the banks of a lake. Some loops have flush toilets and showers though our loop just had vault toilets but that was all that was left when we booked. They have a weird booking system where you can reserve some sites only the day before - a bit complicated especially with a foreign credit card and skype phone, but we managed to sort it out. The camp host was a nice guy and gave us some good tips. The information on the boards at the entrance was very limited and they could do with putting a map of the site up but all in all we had a nice 3 nights there and met some friendly fellow campers.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank LondonKazza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Center Lake Campground

Address: Custer, SD
Location: United States > South Dakota > Custer
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 24 Specialty Lodging in Custer
Number of rooms: 71
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Custer State Park near Center Lake. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Center Lake Campground Hotel Custer
Lake Campground

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