One of the most beautiful places in South Dakota is its very first state park. With more than 70,000 acres to explore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Custer State Park is full of natural beauty, wildlife and recreation opportunities.
Custer State Park is our first, and largest state park.
On July 1, 1919, Custer State Park became an official state park, though it had already been managed by the state since 1897 in various capacities.
The herd of bison who live here are one of the most popular features of the park.
The herd was introduced in 1914, with just 36 animals. Today, it's one of the world's largest herds, with around 1,300 animals. An annual roundup every September helps keep numbers in check and herd members healthy.
Take a drive along the Needles Highway to see the most spectacular geographic features in the park.
These spires, pillars and towers are made of granite, and some are more than 500 feet high.
The Needles really are simply astounding.
Popular with rock climbers, The Needles are some of the most unique rock formations in the state. The Cathedral Spires, a group of formations that covers 637 square miles, was listed as a National Natural Landmark in 1976.
The Needles Highway Tunnel is a short but nail-biting tunnel that is so narrow many vehicles barely fit through. It measures just 8'4" wide by 11'3" high.
The Needles Highway stretches for 14 miles through the park, and its hairpin turns will also keep you on your toes.
This park has so many recreation areas that it's hard to count them all.
Sylvan Lake is just one of five lakes in Custer State Park, and it offers fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, and tons of hiking trails.
The scenery at Custer State Park is unparalleled.
From the craggy towers along the Needles Highway...
...to the big skies found in the prairie lands here, there's stunning natural beauty everywhere you look.
Custer State Park is incredibly diverse. You'll find forested hills, unique rock formations, and vast prairies within its boundaries.
You'll find dozens of hiking trails here.
From short, easy jaunts to steep, difficult hikes, there's something for every outdoor enthusiast. Hiking is one of the best ways to truly experience the park; you'll be surrounded by its natural beauty, and see its features up close.
The wildlife in the park is one of its biggest draws.
Take a drive on Wildlife Loop, an 18-mile long road that winds through the park and features tons of wildlife. The most popular? A herd of friendly, goofy wild burros affectionately nicknamed "Begging Burros" because they'll come right up to your car to see if you have any treats.
You'll see some of the park's tiniest residents...
...and some of its most massive beasts along Wildlife Loop.
Stay overnight at Custer State Park at one of its iconic lodges, or camp in one of its campgrounds.
You'll definitely want to make this an overnight or weekend trip. There's so much to see and do at this amazing park that you'll need several days to take in its natural wonders.
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