Custer State Park’s Must See Destinations

Being the top state park in South Dakota, you know Custer has to have endless adventure! Check out the must-see places in Custer and add on to your South Dakota trip this summer. sou

Being the top state park in South Dakota, you know Custer has to have endless adventure! Check out the must-see places in Custer and add on to your South Dakota trip this summer.

Needles Highway

Drive through these marvels of nature stabbing up into the sky! Stop along the road at overlooks and take in this unique, one of a kind highway.

Travel Tip: If you’re traveling with a large trailer or an RV, avoid this road in Custer. The narrow passages and tunnels could cause problems along your journey. Tunnels just wide enough for one vehicle.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake has to be the most peaceful locations in the park. Arrive early to avoid crowds and to catch the lake at it’s most serene time. This lake is in it’s own section of park at the northwestern portion of the park. Taking the Needles Highway to the lake will give the illusion of driving through a portal to a different land.

Black Elk Peak

We didn’t have time to complete the Black Elk Peak trail, it’s still on my bucket list. Which means we get to go back, yay! This trail can be accessed by multiple locations, but the simplest is likely the trail head at Sylvan Lake. The trail is 7 miles round trip with, what I hear, is an amazing overlook at the top of the peak. The difficulty level of the trail is considered easy with areas of steep terrain.


Sundown doesn’t have to be goodbye when you’re staying the night. Camping at Custer gives adventurers the chance to see the park at it’s most beautiful times. Catch a calming sunset or a refreshing sunrise. One of my favorite parts of our Camping Trip at Custer was the sunrise though the needles at Sylvan Lake.

Wildlife Loop Road

I highly suggest driving the Wildlife Loop Road. It goes around the whole southern section of the park with areas for overlooks and short trails to explore.

After a time, Scott and I were being asked where all the animals were. It is true that we didn’t see any right away, with the exception of the rodents back at camp, but there had to be more critters than that! At long last, when we were on the southwestern portion of the loop we came around the bend and BOOM! Bison! We only saw 3 bison on our whole trip, but it was truly something to see them right next to the car. We also got a glimpse of the little prairie dogs and some pronghorn. There are other animals in this ecosystem that we didn’t see, be on the lookout for elk, deer and big horn sheep. All of the critters we saw were found in areas we weren’t expecting them. Stay ALERT!

Buffalo Round up

Interested in watching Park Rangers and wranglers round up the bison, plan your visit to include the last Friday in September. This way, you’ll be guarantied to see more than three bison, more like 1,300! The bison are rounded up annually for the management of the herd.


Some of the best views that we had were at random unplanned stops along the way Wildlife Loop. Some had unique rock stacking, signs for kids to read, and some small areas with ruins, each stop had a little something different to explore. These were my favorite areas to explore.


This is a MUST for a western South Dakota trip, it is in the town of Custer, just west of Custer State Park. The Purple Pie Place is complete with a purple pig! I usually order my basic chocolate or French silk pie when in the mood for pie, always afraid of being disappointed. But I went out on a limb and ordered Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. It was probably the best pie that I have ever had, Chocolate or otherwise. I highly recommend this slice ala mode. The rich creamy ice cream is a perfect accent!

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