If you love camping, wildlife, the water and wilderness and everything else Mother Nature has given us, you should definitely take a trip to Custer State Park in South Dakota.
This 71,000-acre park in the Black Hills has everything you could ask for in an outdoor venue as it features granite peaks, clear mountain waters, and open ranges that are all begging to be discovered and explored. Along with the fantastic terrain, you’ll find a wide range of interesting wildlife.
The first thing you might notice is that there is a herd of about 1,300 bison that freely wanders throughout the park. The animals can weigh up to about a ton and have been found in the region for hundreds of years as they were depended upon by the Sioux Native American tribe for shelter, clothing, and food.
Other types of wildlife that can be found in the park include Mountain Goats, Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, Wild Turkeys, Deer, Elk, and a Group of Friendly Burros.
Because the park is so vast, you can soak in all of its natural beauty and diversity by following the scenic drives that are mapped out. These include the Needles Highway and Wildlife Loop Road.
If you love to fish, the park will be a paradise to you as trout fishing is one of the top activities in the summers. There are several mountainous lakes to try your luck in. These are Legion Lake, Center lake, Sylvan Lake, and Stockade Lake. Combined, these crystal blue-water lakes make up about 182 acres and are home to numerous types of fish.
The Custer State Park is definitely a place you’ll want to spend at least one night in and it has several scenic Camp-grounds and sites to choose from. You can nestle in beside a flowing stream, in the middle of a pine forest, or on the shores of a mountain lake. However, if sleeping under the stars isn’t what you choose, then you can pick from several lodges and cabins to stay at.
The park also has a rich history as Custer’s expedition discovered gold at French Creek in 1874 and it offers several family activities and educational programs. These include a guided hike that follows in the footsteps of the Gold Rush and features a demonstration of gold panning.
There are also campfire programs and outdoor-cooking demonstrations. There’s a Junior Naturalist Program in place for children, as it teaches outdoor learning by utilizing hands-on activities.
For those who want to stay active, there’s hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rock climbing available along with jeep rides, and boat rentals.