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  • Writer's pictureMick McMurray

Base Camp in Custer State Park

Updated: Jul 16

Bison laying in the grass with trees in the background

Custer State Park, nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, spans over 71,000 acres and boasts a diverse landscape of serene lakes, lush forests, and sweeping prairies teeming with an array of wildlife such as bison, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. During our recent visit, we were fortunate to camp at the picturesque Bluebell Campground for three nights, where we relished the open space and tranquility that comes with having ample room between sites. While we used this idyllic spot as our base, we took the opportunity to explore the nearby Wind Cave National Park and Mt. Rushmore.

Our trailer in the blue Bell campground at Custer state park in South Dakota
Bluebelle Campsite

We spent 1 afternoon exploring the area around the campground and visited Legion Lake where we had hoped to do some kayaking but they weren’t allowing anyone out on the lake because of thunderstorms in the area.

The Shady Rest Picnic Area in Custer State Park, South Dakota, is a prime spot for watching the magnificent bighorn sheep in their natural habitat. These majestic animals are known for their impressive curved horns and sure-footedness on rocky terrain. Visitors can observe these beautiful creatures from a safe distance as they graze on the grass and roam around the area. The picnic area offers a serene and scenic setting to enjoy a picnic while soaking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Bighorn Sheep at the waters edge reflected in the water
Bighorn Sheep

Exploring the Wildlife Loop Rd. was one of the highlights of our trip to Custer State Park. During our drive, we had the opportunity to witness some of the park's most fascinating wildlife, including bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, and wild burros. Although the burros are feral, they have a reputation for being friendly and curious, often approaching motorists who stop hoping to get some food. It's important to remember not to get too close to them as they can become agitated and potentially dangerous, particularly if they feel threatened or cornered. So, while the burros may be fun to watch, it's best to keep a safe distance to avoid any unwanted accidents.

Toward the end of the drive, we got stuck in the biggest bison jam ever. There was a large herd that decided to walk down the road for miles and since they were surrounding the truck we had no choice but to follow along. This was an awesome park and we would stay here again if we ever get back to the area.

In conclusion, Custer State Park is a truly remarkable destination that offers something for everyone. With its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and excellent recreational opportunities, visitors are sure to have an unforgettable experience. Whether you're camping in one of the park's many campgrounds, driving the scenic Wildlife Loop Road, or hiking one of its many trails, you're sure to be awed by the beauty of this incredible place. With its proximity to other popular attractions such as Wind Cave National Park and Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park is the perfect destination for nature lovers and history buffs alike. A trip to Custer State Park is an adventure that you won't want to miss!

From our campsite in Custer State Park it was only a 15-mile drive to our next National National park so be sure to see our Next stop Wind Cave National Park

Lorna's Tips and Lessons

This State Park is one of my favorites and among the best places we have stayed. I highly recommend considering local state and county campgrounds when planning your travels. I would love to return to Custer State Park for the bison roundup. On this trip, my hairdresser fell ill, and had to cancel my appointment just before the trip.

Mick dying Lornas hair at the campground
Mick dying Lornas hair

I had to decide whether to adopt the attitude "camp hair don't care" and wear a hat, treat my roots with a spray treatment, or dye my hair myself. I tried all three options during our trips.


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