Custer State Park Needles

Our Awesome Day at Custer State Park

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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.

Overlook at Black Hills National Park

Tunnel Heading in Black Hills National Forest

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!

Custer State Park Buffalo

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!

Seeing Buffalo outside of our car at Custer State Park

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

Custer State Park Bison with Calf

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.

Visitor's Center Sign at Custer State Park

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!

Custer State Park Begging Burro

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.

Begging Burros Custer State Park

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.

Custer State Park Burro in the car window

After meeting the “begging burros,” we drove onward through the park.Custer State Park Needles

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

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

Custer State Park Rock Needles Highway

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.

Custer State Park Sylvan Lake

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

Bridge Custer State Park

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.

Memorial of Crazy Horse near Custer State Park

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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