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
Duration: < 1 hour
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  • ANR_78
    Marion, Illinois727 contributions
    Need More Time
    Not sure what I can say except that we needed more time here. Lots to do and lots to see but I feel like this is how many of these parks are. You get to see some of it, maybe a lot of it, but, unless you work here, and are just traveling through you'll wish you had just a bit more time to explore.
    Visited June 2022
    Written March 28, 2023
  • Terri J
    80 contributions
    Lots of Wildlife.
    This was our first visit and boy we’re we wowed! The roads are well kept and the porta potties appreciated and spacious. We saw so much wildlife and we were thrilled. We saw buffalo, rams, deer, prairie dogs and antelope! I kept my eyes peeled for an elk but no luck! Great relaxing drive.
    Visited April 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 28, 2023
  • SunAndSki
    Colorado Springs, Colorado45 contributions
    Definitely consider going in March
    I think we enjoyed this as much as Mt. Rushmore, if not more. I disagree with the recommended time of "<1 hour" in the description. This is a big place. It's worth driving to the south end to see tons of buffalo, and there are some really great hikes here, including Cathedral Spires. Really cool. Although it was a little cold, and not every attraction was open, we enjoyed not having to fight ANY crowds at Mt. Rushmore or Custer, and also saving some serious $$ on hotels. Seriously, felt like we were the only ones there.
    Visited March 2023
    Written May 3, 2023
  • dsaun
    Colorado Springs, Colorado31 contributions
    Beautiful and must see!
    Beautiful! Well worth the visit. We drove through one morning and it was foggy so we just took wildlife loop rd. Tons of bisons! Stopped by the new bison center- it’s worth stopping by. Cleans and informative. The gentleman working was very friendly and full of info about the park and bison. Drove rest of park a different day, it was nice having a pass for a week. Highly recommend!
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written May 30, 2023
  • LT652014
    Beaufort, South Carolina100 contributions
    Don’t miss if you are in rapid City.
    Great state park. Comparable to any I have visited. Plenty to do and a few places to eat as well. The Buffalo safari is an entertaining ride. We got an extra long one as it wasn’t yet busy and the guide was eager to show us the sights and animals, although we had seen plenty of Buffalo already. Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Rd are great drives. The Sylvan Lake trail is a good walk. We took a day and a half to do it because the safari was extended, but were delighted.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 2, 2023
  • lcgovols
    Athens, Tennessee689 contributions
    Loved our stay at Blue Bell Lodge
    We LOVED our three night stay at Blue Bell Lodge in Custer State Park. We were there for three days and I wish it could have been longer. I would highly recommend doing the chuckwagon ride/supper from Blue Bell Lodge….it was so much fun and the steak was delicious!!
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written June 18, 2023
  • Mike S
    Kansas City, Missouri86 contributions
    Custer BUFFALO!
    A very nice drive with many animals to see. We had 1 area where we had so many buffalo around our vehicle that we had to stop along with traffic from both directions. We estimated nearly 300 buffalo in the area that we had to stop. There are many places to stop along the road to get some great pictures. Have done this before, and will be back.
    Visited July 2022
    Traveled with family
    Written June 21, 2023
  • angeleyes27
    Brigantine, New Jersey5,147 contributions
    Nice park with 3 drives
    This park is $20 for a carload. We did the 17 mile Wildlife Loop and saw a herd of buffalo. There is a new Buffalo Visitor Center on it which is nice. We also did the Needles Eye Tunnel which is very cool. We drove through some of the Iron Mountain road at night. We had only 4 hours to spend in the park so we didn’t have time to do that in the day. Get a free Black Hills map as the roads can be confusing
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 25, 2023
  • Debra Girl Kat
    Chicago, Illinois6 contributions
    Great adventure of South Dakota!
    The entire park was absolutely beautiful. Clean and pleasant to hike easy to moderate trails with or without walking sticks. The birds were like no other. All kinds! The roads are winding, adding adrenaline to our trip. Bison roam the lands.
    Visited July 2022
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 25, 2023
  • Chris F.
    Fort Collins, Colorado273 contributions
    Great Trip! Rewarded with Beautiful scenery and Wildlife
    We had been thru here when our children were little and had such fond memories that we decided to visit again. We were not disappointed. At the entrance, the ranger shared with us where the buffalo were being seen that day, so we could be sure to take that route. The scenery was beautiful, weather was perfect. Then we saw them! Up close and personal. The buffalo and lots of calves. In the distance, on both sides of the road, on the road, and right next to the road. They are magnificent animals, and they had us totally spellbound. We saw 3 or 4 herds this close along the roads in the park. we were able to get some incredible pictures. Some of which we hope to put on our walls. Driving along the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, we noticed lots of vehicles pulled over and walking down the gulch. Following them we soon saw why. Here were the wild, friendly, begging burros. They are the descendants of the burros that carried tourists up to Black Elk Peak before roads were built to it. You will want to have something to offer them. Try cut apples or something healthy. Stop at the visitor's Center for information and comfort stop. ~ The amount of time you spend in the park depends on your interest level and what you enjoy viewing. ~ Please keep in mind, you are viewing wild animals and must exercise precautions. Stay in your vehicles ( except for the burros in the gulch~ but these also are wild. They seem tame because of the handouts) We had one buffalo rub it's neck on the fender and hood of our car, and back fender. Exciting yes, terrifying yes. These are very powerful animals. So, use common sense, and you will have memories that will last you a lifetime.
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 5, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

5.0
6,210 reviews
Excellent
5,267
Very good
752
Average
133
Poor
30
Terrible
28

Sara T
Ellicott City, MD1,018 contributions
Jan 2024 • Solo
This is a gorgeous state park. There are many campgrounds. We went at 5 in the evening and saw LOTS of bison. They crossed the road right by where we parked. Amazing!
Written January 30, 2024
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.

MariaBCalifornia
Chino Hills, CA591 contributions
Oct 2023 • Family
My husband and I stayed inside the park at the Custer State Lodge, so made drives through the park every day. We saw bison, wild turkeys, wild burros, deer, and many other animals. We had a great stay here and thought the park was great.
Written December 23, 2023
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.

Fist Bump Trader
4 contributions
Apr 2023 • Family
You're welcomed by vast grasslands, dramatic rock formations, and the friendliest wildlife ever. I practically had a staring contest with a bison, and the scenic drives through Needles Highway felt like something out of a movie. What's truly magical is the feeling of freedom; you can hike, camp, or just sit by the lake and soak it all in. It's not just a park; it's a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you're into hiking, wildlife, or just craving some peace and quiet away from city life, Custer State Park is a must-visit slice of heaven.
Written November 7, 2023
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.

Jerrianne W
Saint Louis, MO77 contributions
Oct 2023 • Solo
My timing was off; the buffalo roundup was a week or so earlier. I think that might have been a reason why I only saw one small herd of buffalo. Nonetheless, it was a great afternoon of driving through the park.
Written November 6, 2023
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.

SteveSly
Kalamazoo MI51 contributions
Oct 2023 • Couples
Absolutely outstanding. We did the wildlife loop, needles highway and silvan lake. A must visit if in the area.
Written October 24, 2023
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.

tammym2737
Athens, AL55 contributions
Oct 2023 • Family
Beautiful views, lots of nice hiking trails and driving yrails with lots of wildlife. We went back several days, so glad we checked out this state park. Needles loop is a must see drive, especially with national park higher ridge trail road closed. Anything after October 15 is somewhat shutting down in area, but colors and amazing views are not to miss, good for all ages.
Written October 23, 2023
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.

Herb M
Rockport, MA383 contributions
Oct 2023 • Couples
We visited Custer and Custer State Park for several days, and we enjoyed it so much we would like to return. Custer State Park was a joy, especially the Needles Road and the Wildlife Loop. Needles Road was breathtaking; we enjoyed it one day and went back for a second look, but it was closed for the season! The Wildlife Loop featured the annual roundup of bison, with tagging and branding the animals - fascinating to watch. We spent three full days in this area, with another day at Mt Rushmore. And the town of Custer offered very good hotel and eating. I would like to return to this area and combine the visit with Yellowstone. Be careful because some things (roads, businesses, museums) begin to close late September-October.
Written October 21, 2023
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.

ASGLondon
London, Canada213 contributions
Sep 2023 • Solo
Amazing scenic views, hiking trails, scenic overlooks and lots of wildlife encounters.

I visited Mt Coolidge, Lake Sylvan, the Needles, the wildlife loop, Iron Mountain, and oodles of trails.

The restroom facilities were... rustic. But, that's better than nothing.

I spent two days, but probably could have spent an entire week. The price of admission is well worth the experience!

My only complaint is that the glue on the pack pass stickers is way too strong, it took significant effort to get it off my windshield.
Written October 12, 2023
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.

MAP12
New Orleans, LA600 contributions
Sep 2023 • Friends
We did the Needles Hwy and Iron Mountain Road - both well worth seeing, great scenic highways. We didn't see any buffalo here, but had seen enough that we didn't miss them.
Written October 11, 2023
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.

Chandra S
Texas138 contributions
Sep 2023 • Family
Our family of seven (4 generations) from Texas visited Custer State Park while in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We were so bummed to realize we missed the buffalo roundup by exactly 1 week… We visited the Peter Norbeck Education Center and talked with a volunteer..she was so friendly and shared several stories with us about staying the summer at the campground! We also stopped at the Visitor Center and watched the Park Film. It was so entertaining and informative, everyone in our family enjoyed it. We were able to see buffalo, antelope, deer, burros and LOTS of prairie dogs while in the park. The highlight was stopping at an overlook and climbing stairs to a ridge and while at the top we heard elk bugling..so cool!! We all just stood at the top in a little cooler drizzly weather just listening to them for about 20-25 minutes!! We had actually thought about doing the Friday night elk bugle tour but we got that accomplished on our own!! The leaves were starting to change and the scenery was Gorgeous!!! Would absolutely recommend visiting Custer State Park..the entry fee is well worth it!!!
Written October 2, 2023
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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CUSTER STATE PARK: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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