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Custer State Park
Few truly wild places remain in this country. Custer State Park is one of them. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the park is home to a variety of wildlife and magnificent scenery spanning 71,000 acres.
Nearly 1,300 bison, commonly called buffalo, roam the prairies and hills of Custer State Park, which they share with swift pronghorn, shy elk, sure-footed mountain goats and curious burros. Visitors often enjoy close encounters with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.
Slender granite formations called "Needles" dominate the skyline. These unique rock outcroppings are an excellent place for rock climbers to push themselves to the limit. With its winding roads and small granite tunnels, the 14-mile Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake) provides the perfect backdrop for a scenic drive and ranks as a favorite among sightseers and motorcycle enthusiasts.
A third scenic drive, Iron Mountain Road, connects the park to Mount Rushmore National Memorial via a 17-mile stretch of SD Highway 16A. The route includes some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area as well as three more tunnels and three "pigtail" bridges.
Custer State Park, the second largest state park in America, invites visitors to roam free amidst pure nature. Enjoy leisurely, moderate or strenuous walks along more than a dozen hiking trails throughout the park. This includes two trailheads that offer access to climb to the summit of Harney Peak, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, located just outside of the park's northwest boundary. At the top of Harney Peak is an awe-inspiring vista of granite peaks carpeted with evergreens and aspens.
Park visitors love kayaking, canoeing and paddleboating in the refreshing mountain lakes. Also available are horseback riding, Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours, chuck wagon suppers, gold panning demonstrations, fishing, naturalist programs and much more. Unique lodges and scenic campgrounds provide the ideal location for creating lasting vacation memories in the great outdoors.
Annual Buffalo Roundup
The annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is the final event of an autumn weekend full of Old West entertainment and heart-pounding adventure. You can feel the earth shake from thousands of thundering hooves as wranglers and rangers round up the park's approximately 1,300 bison. The Buffalo Roundup is an experience of a lifetime that you have to see to believe. For a sampling of the action, take a look at this short video:
In addition to its scenic beauty, abundant wildlife and outdoor activities, Custer State Park is home to several historic sites. The oldest is the Gordon Stockade, dating back to 1874. Located on the western boundary of the park, the current stockade is the third replica built on the original site. Other sites are Civilian Conservation Corps projects from the 1930s, including the Mount Coolidge Fire Tower, the Black Hills Playhouse and the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, all still in use today. The most prominent structure in the park is the State Game Lodge, which served as President Calvin Coolidge's "Summer White House" in 1927 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Custer State Park is just a few minutes away from other Black Hills attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, The Mammoth Site, Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park, and more.
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