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South Dakota may not seem like a happening place, but what it lacks in big-city attractions it more than makes up for in historical significance. History buffs exploring the area will probably want to book an RV in Custer County and head on over to Custer State Park, located in the Black Hills and home to several species of wildlife.
Custer, SD may not be a bustling metropolis, but you can still rent an RV in Custer and head over to the park. While camping at Custer State Park, you can enjoy countless outdoor activities, including hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Hunting helps keep population sizes to a manageable number and prevents herds from becoming overcrowded within the park. Camp in an RV near Custer and spend a few days hunting game in specific parts of the park. A hunting license is required, and only residents of South Dakota can hunt elk, deer, pronghorn, mountain lion, and turkey. Out-of-state visitors are allowed to hunt buffalo with a special hunting license.
Custer State Park also offers some of the most beautiful scenic drives in South Dakota. Take a few days and explore each of the highways that wind through Custer State Park, and stop at the many lookouts for photo ops and to learn about each area you visit. Needles Highway closes to vehicle traffic after the first snowfall of the season. Hikers, bikers, walkers, and even skiers can still use the highway during this time. Iron Mountain Road connects Mount Rushmore with Custer State Park, and the winding Wildlife Loop Road puts wildlife right in your path! When traveling any of these roads, be sure to watch for wildlife and go slowly to enjoy the scenery.
Plan your visit near the end of September and rent a camper near Custer State Park for the Annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. This is an opportunity to watch cowboys and cowgirls use their skills to round up and herd several hundred buffalo. This roundup is used to help manage the population of buffalo within the park and maintain a healthy and strong herd for future generations. There are viewing areas for visitors to watch the action and stay safely out of the way of the moving buffalo. After the roundup is complete, the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival begins, with several vendors offering crafts and fine arts for sale.
Custer State Park features a variety of lodging options for overnight guests, including ten campgrounds, cabins, and a lodge. Bluebell Campground can accommodate large RVs. Horse stables are nearby for those bringing their horses into the park for trail rides. Trout fishing is available near the campgrounds. Amenities include electric hookups at select campsites, restrooms, showers, and potable water. Picnic tables and grills are also available at each campsite. The nearby Blue Bell Lodge offers a laundromat, convenience store, fuel, and a full-service restaurant.
Legion Lake Campground is within walking distance of the Badger Clark Memorial. Guests can rent canoes and kayaks at the lodge nearby, but there’s no boat launch at this campground. Full electric hookups are available at most campsites, in addition to flush toilets, showers, and potable water. A limited-service restaurant is located in the lodge as well as a convenience store and gift shop.
Horsethief Lake Campground is located about 30 minutes from Custer State Park and is operated by the United States Forest Service. Camping with an RV at Horsethief Lake allows you the opportunity to enjoy swimming or fishing in the lake. Electric hookups aren’t provided at the campground, but generators are allowed to run during specific times. Additional amenities include vault toilets and potable water.
South Dakota is home to one of the most iconic monuments in the United States, and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Custer State Park in Rapid City. Camp in an RV near Custer and head over and explore Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Take some time to visit the Black Hills National Forest and learn about the history surrounding the monument. You can camp at one of the many campgrounds in your rental RV and then head back down to Custer State Park to see some of the attractions of Custer County before heading home.
Those interested in history may also enjoy visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is just under 15 minutes from Custer State Park. The memorial was commissioned to preserve the traditions and culture of the native tribes which inhabited these lands. The memorial depicts the famed Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, astride his horse and pointing his finger to a distant horizon.
Spend a day or two exploring the Custer County 1881 Courthouse located in Custer. Once a majestic courthouse that served the entire county of Custer, it’s now a museum that takes visitors back in time to when the Dakota Territory was just a wild expanse of land. You can see exhibits on Lakota culture and the 1874 expedition of George Custer. This building was the center of government activity in Custer County from 1881 to 1973. In 1972, the courthouse was designated a historic site and has been preserved by the historical society.