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When you visit the Black Hills of South Dakota, there are so many opportunities to get back to nature.  During our trip, we knew we had to make a day of visiting Custer State Park.  Our party of three made Keystone our home base for three days. For Jeff, Kristin and me, it was the perfect little place to call home.  But before we could get to Custer State Park, we drove through the Black Hills National Forest.

Our pictures show the cloudy, overcast weather we had during our trip.  It misted rain or poured during our entire trip, but we don’t let the weather get us down!

Sign at Black Hills National Forest

Black Hills National Forest

This scenic roadway in Black Hills National Forest has some great scenic views and interesting rock formations.

There are also some great tunnels to drive through.


Drive-thru tunnel at Black Hills National Forest

Custer State Park

After winding around for awhile, we came to Custer State Park.  I know I’m probably supposed to call these animals bison, but they are buffalo to me.  Luckily, we didn’t have to search for the buffalo on this day.  The herd moves around and can be anywhere.  They happened to be hanging out right where we entered the park!

They walk wherever they feel like walking.  They stand in the road and next to your car if they want to.  I mean, who’s going to stop them.  They are huge!

It was spring, after all, so we got to see a lot of cute calves in the herd.

One thing I should probably mention here–do not get out of your car for any reason when you are near the herd or even a single buffalo.  It can be dangerous.  Also, drive slowly and carefully through the park to keep yourself and the animals safe!

After slowly driving about halfway through the park, we found the Custer State Park Visitor’s Center.  Since our visit, a new interactive visitor’s center has been constructed.  We stopped at the Peter Norbeck Visitor’s Center.

We stopped here for a few moments.  We are crazy about making sure we have a magnet from everywhere we visit; it’s our thing.  This is where we bought our magnet for the park.  We also talked with a park ranger who was willing to get on the phone to track down the latest whereabouts of the buffalo herd.  We told him that we had already met the herd.  So, if you get to the visitor’s center and you haven’t seen the buffalo, they will do their best to track them down for you.

Here is the visitor’s center building.

Visitor's Center at Custer State Park

We got back in our car and drove around some more.  We had heard that there were some burros out in the park, so we kept an eye out for them.

Soon, we stumbled upon these guys.  They are hilarious!

Apparently, they are known as the “begging burros.” We didn’t know to bring them food, but they were certainly looking for it.  I don’t usually feed the wildlife, but these guys have grown to expect it.

We didn’t really have anything to feed them, but a car behind us brought a loaf of bread and insisted on sharing it with us.  Fun!  The burros also aren’t shy about sticking their heads through the window when you try to leave.

After meeting the “begging burros,” we drove onward through the park.

We soon found ourselves on Needles Highway where we could see breathtaking formations like these!

Custer State Park South Dakota Black Hills

We stopped to stretch our legs a little.  Or climb a rock.

We also got to drive through cool formations like this keyhole.

Custer State Park Needles Highway Keyhole

We continued on until we came to the Sylvan Lake Area.  There are many resorts and campgrounds in this part of the park.

We also stopped to walk around a little mountain stream area.

Soon, it was time to head back towards Keystone.  We drove by the Crazy Horse Memorial, but we didn’t take the time to stop.

We had an awesome time visiting the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park.  These destinations are must-dos if you are in the Black Hills area of South Dakota.  This area is perfect for families who want to marvel at the beauty of nature while making some great memories.  It’s so peaceful and relaxing here, and the wildlife can’t be beat.  I’m glad we were able to scratch Custer State Park off of our bucket list!

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  1. Wow! I’d never heard about Custer State Park before. But it is sure an impressive place. The Needles Highway is just stunning!

    Happy continued travels!

  2. What an amazing array of experiences…burros in your car window, keyhole drives, needle mountains. Custer State Park seems like a perfect weekend getaway!

    • Stacey Reply

      It was a great place to visit. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. We stopped here on our way to Yellowstone. It was absolutely amazing. Such a great day.

    • Stacey Reply

      Yellowstone is on my list of someday visits! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. This reminds me so much of South Africa (the wildlife) and Taiwan (the rock tunnels). Seems like the Custer State Park has the best of both worlds! Just lovely! Oh and don’t get me started on the burros…how cute are they?

    • Stacey Reply

      You’ve been to some great places! I hope I can travel outside of the U.S. some day.

  5. I call them buffalo, too! I can’t believe there are so many of them there. I’d love to do a road trip to Custer’s State Park some day!

    • Stacey Reply

      It was a great trip! I can’t believe we saw so many buffalo. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Amazing landcape! I was in USA 3 years ago, but only in NYC and Washington. I would love to come back and explore more, although it would take a lifetime to do a proper visit, right?

    • Stacey Reply

      That’s how I feel about everywhere I go! How can you ever see it all?

  7. Have never been to South Dakota and not sure I’ll ever be there but it’s good to know you’ve got beautiful nature too! The rest of the country doesn’t know much about this little state!

  8. A treat for the eyes Stacey. Being a nature lover, national parks and forested areas are always high up on my bucket list. Even though it was rainy, your shots reveal what a beauty this place is!

  9. This was a fun experience! It has a beautiful scenery too. The burros look charming and friendly. I have seen some of them in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. They are gentle. I have not seen bison yet but there are a lot of water buffalo (carabaos) here in the Philippines.

    • Stacey Reply

      I would like to see some water buffalo in the wild. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Nice pictures. I’ll definitely come back to your post while I’m in south Dakota so I don’t miss this beauty. Keep exploring!

    • Stacey Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad I could provide some information!

  11. It must be a great experience to visit this park and see and touch all those cute animals. Thanks for sharing!

    • Stacey Reply

      It is a memory I will always cherish! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Stacey Reply

      We are experts at picking rainy days for traveling. It was raining a little and foggy. A sunny day may be brighter!

  12. South Dakota is so amazing to me! A place I never gave much thought about is actually filled with history, beautiful scenery, and fun activities! I’d love for my daughter to feed the burros!

  13. My inlaws live in Rapid City SD and I’m always surprised at all the cool and beautiful things to do in S. Dakota. It really is an amazing state, loved reading about the begging burros.

    • Stacey Reply

      I really enjoyed the area. I’d love to go again sometime, especially Deadwood. I’d like to spend more time there.

    • Stacey Reply

      It really is a beautiful park with a lot of wildlife!

  14. This looks like a wonderful trip to two beautiful places! I especially love the picture of the burro with it’s head in the car. What an experience for your daughter!

    • Stacey Reply

      We really did have a great time! I will always remember the burro poking its head in the window!

  15. Ok now I need to put another place on my list of places to Visit when I do my USA,, At this rate I’m not just going to be doing a road trip but a life time trip haha. I would love to explore these national parks and forests. I would just lose myself in them, It’s definitely nice to go back to nature and basics sometimes 😀

    • Stacey Reply

      There really is so much to see and do! We still have so much to see, and we live here!

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