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Custer State Park

13329 US HWY 16A
Custer  South Dakota  57730
United States
(605) 255-4515
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    - Ginger Crichton
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Midwest Living Review

Kendra L. Williams
Up-close wildlife encounters and scenic roadways fill one of the Black Hills' star attractions, which is more like a national park than a state park.

There aren't many places you can drive alongside wild buffalo, but in Custer State Park these encounters are commonplace. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the park encompasses 71,000 acres of awe-inspiring country. Massive pine and spruce trees cover the rugged granite hills. The park fills each year with campers, horseback riders, anglers and families escaping for their annual summer vacation. Custer offers numerous lodging options, including rooms at the Game Lodge (where President Calvin Coolidge famously spent a summer) and cabins at the Blue Bell Resort, Sylvan Lake Lodge and Legion Lake Resort. Restaurants and cookouts are available at each. The park's signature experience is the Wildlife Loop, an 18-mile paved drive that offers guaranteed views of bison, pronghorn, prairie dogs and burros that will try to beg food off passing motorists. The park is also known nationwide for its October Buffalo Roundup. About 10,000-15,000 people wait hours to catch a glimpse of 1,500 bison and a few bewildered burros thundering down the valley chased by dozens of cowboys and chase vehicles. The experience lasts only minutes but continues to be a big draw. To capitalize on the event, the park holds an art show the same weekend featuring mainly Western and Native American Art. Admission charged; daily park passes are $6 per vehicle.

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