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“Historical Lodge”
Review of State Game Lodge

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State Game Lodge
Ranked #11 of 18 Hotels in Custer
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 1, 2013

A historical lodge in the middle of Custer State Park. Rooms were clean with beautiful local wood on ceiling.Central to walking trails. Enjoyed sitting on front porch in lodge. Yes, motel type rooms, but the surrounding area makes up for the room. Buffalo Safari was wonderful. The guide was very knowledgeable and funny -amazing to be a few feet from the buffalo. . He was enthused about the history, geology and nature of the park. We saw the park with new appreciation of the land. The lodge was beautiful. Only wish it had a laundry.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank JosefGP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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281 - 287 of 472 reviews

Reviewed August 26, 2013

My wife and I spent three days at the State Game Lodge while touring and hiking the Badlands, Black Hills, and Spearfish Canyon. For the novelty and experience, we forked up the greenbacks and stayed at the hotel's Coolidge room one night ($358.00). We spent the other two nights at the hotel’s adjacent Creekside Cabin annex ($250.00). I really wanted to love every part of my experience, yet this super-expensive hotel did not live up to the hype. In fact, it did not live up to its own website.

Let me first discuss that there are actually two completely different facilities here. The Creekside Cabin is a relatively new hotel on the east side of the property. By contrast, the historical State Game Lodge is front and center off the main road. That is where President Coolidge stayed in the summer of 1927.

The Creekside Cabin was a huge disappointment. Picture a Holiday Inn Express, complete with drop ceilings, Formica countertops, cheap fixtures, and institutional feel. Now add a few antlers and some cliché western artwork. Remove the free breakfast. That is the Creekside Cabin.

The rooms are not “oversized” as the hotel’s website advertises. They are small, identical, and uninteresting. The faux-rustic details and comfortable beds helped me forget just for a moment that I wasn't paying $50.00 a night.

The bathrooms are even smaller. They are what you would expect from a budget roadside motel. In fact, if I had to rate this property just on the bathrooms, it would be one-star. A faucet handle fell off in my hands when I turned the water on in the Coolidge Room. No, it was not original hardware.

The staff at Creekside was friendly, but often AWOL. We left the hotel early both mornings to hike. When we departed, the front desk was unmanned. There were some minor cleanliness issues, too. One of the towels had either a lipstick or blood stain. I don’t really care, but I am just pointing out that Creekside was in my mind a $50.00 a night property, not a $250.00 a night property. I will not stay there again.

The Coolidge Room was novel and cozy. I enjoyed being there. And for a one-night experience, it was worth it. But let me add sunshine to all the facts, not just the ones the hotels puts on their website:

The room was not nearly as nice as the hotel’s photographs show. It is also quite small. The hotel photographs make it look palatial. It is not. I also think that the room has been re-arranged and redecorated. What was probably once the sleeping porch is now a sitting room. That would have been the norm in those pre-air-conditioning days. The room where the president probably worked is now the bedroom.

Most of the furniture appeared to be replicas or reproductions, not originals. The light on my nigh table said “Made in China.” And that bathroom appears to have been redone or added later. It was tiny and the tile work substandard. I already mentioned the shower fixture that fell off in my hand.

Am I being too picky? Maybe. But one of the things I was hoping for was authenticity. For the price I was hoping to be wowed. I wasn’t.

One of the saving graces of the State Game Lodge was its restaurant. I’d say 3.5 out of 5. Yet expect to pay a hefty price, about $30.00 for entrees.

Room Tip: Pick the Coolidge room for a one-night novelty or find a different hotel at a better price.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank LobstaSlaya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2013

Booked this stay about 9 months before our trip because I wanted a room with 3 beds. I ignored other reviews that were critical because I figured staying in the park would be the best option. We booked for 5 nights and I wanted to check out the first night we were there, but I stuck it out and after 4 nights finally gave in and left. There was only 1 outdoor chair available to our cabin that sleeps 6 (in addition to a picnic table).
1. no wifi in the cabins---everywhere has wifi, but there was no wifi in the cabins--you had to go to the lodge. I'm not interested in going up to the lodge at night so I can sit in the small reception area to plan the next day's activities.
2. the sofa bed bowed--and not a little. I know all sofa beds have issues, but this was epic.
3. the other 2 queen beds were so soft and the frames were so wobbly that even the slightest movement would cause the whole bed to shake
4. While on the surface it was clean, the carpet was filthy. Our kids spilled something on the floor and when we cleaned it up, the white towel we used turned BLACK.
5. There was NO counter space. The sink was right at the front door and to the left was 18 inches (maybe) of counter. On that was the whole coffee/tea tray and that took up over 1/2 the sink. Add to this, there were no towel bars by the sink, despite there being room for one.
6. The light in the bathroom was so dim it might as well have been a 25 watt bulb hanging from a cord.
The only thing good I could say about the place is the staff. They were great. They were very responsive (and friendly) when I called to say my daughter had cut her foot on the carpet tacks in the threshold between the bathroom and rest of the room. It does have a good location in terms of being across the street from the main visitor center in the park, but honestly everything in the black hills is at least an hour drive regardless, so really you can be near 1 or 2 things and then everything else is a drive. Even further if you want to go into the northern hills, like Deadwood.
We were told that the cabins were supposed to be overhauled over the winter. My advice: don't book in here (at cabin 29---I forget what 4 letter description was used as it was the only cabin with the designation) until the cabin has been updated. There was a hole in the screen and I could just go on. There are any number of cabins available at other places very close by, stay there instead.

Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
1  Thank lovetotravel4435
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2013

We had tons of flies in the room. Could not get them out. The room itself was marginal. We stayed here and in a cabin at the Bluebell Lodge. Both had horrible furnishings/carpet and lightning. If in Custer Park - would recommend finding a nearby privately-owned cabin or condo to rent. The bartender was grouchy. Front desk staff very pleasant. Do not eat the breakfast buffet - dead-looking scrambled eggs.

Room Tip: Creekside rooms are supposed to be nicer - do not stay in regular rooms if you have any other choice
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank WanderingTrio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2013

When leaving our room at the Creekside Lodge I left a large amount of cash by mistake and it was all returned to me. The cash was found by the housekeeper, turned over to the hospitality supervisor and given to the general manager so it changed hands more than once. it's so wonderful in this day and age to experience honesty like this. I appreciate getting the cash back, but even more pleasing to me is the experience of the staff's good values. All this and a beautiful room in a beautiful state park.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Anne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2013

Many lodging options at the State Game Lodge. We chose the Creek Side motel as it was the newest. It was also one of the priciest options. We splurged and got an absolutely gorgeous room with 2 queen beds and a full sized sofa. Honestly one of the nicest rooms we have ever stayed in. In the morning we awoke to find the front lawn of the lodge covered with a herd of bison. I had gone for an early walk and found the herd as I returned to our motel. The lead bull trotted toward me to make sure I stayed out of their space and I gave him all the room he wanted crossing over a little creek behind the motel to get back to our room. The next time we stay, I will likely check out a less expensive option, but I was really glad we got to stay here once. Would be nice if they offered a free breakfast since the room price is so high. We did eat dinner in the evening at the lodge and felt the food and the service were both exceptional. Our server, Alfredo, was obviously very good at his job!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Nomad062_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2013

We were not impressed. Our room was clean but it was one of the 'motel' rooms and it was very ordinary and there were several flies that we could not get rid of. We looked forward to dinner but it was terrible. Mediocre food at best, very overpriced, and flies everywhere. I would never stay here again. We did enjoy a glass of wine on the front porch (before dinner).

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank eaglekg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about State Game Lodge

Address: 13389 US Highway 16a, Custer, SD 57730-8351
Location: United States > South Dakota > Custer
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 18 Hotels in Custer
Hotel Class:3 star — State Game Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 101
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Custer State Park, this family accommodation once served as housing for the state's game keepers. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
State Game Hotel Custer
State Game Resort

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