Visiting Custer State Park with Canine – A Black Hills Gem!

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Over time we’ve been to many locations with our canines right here in California. Nevertheless, we haven’t travelled the remainder of the nation an excessive amount of with our canines.

Fortunately for us Harley, Charlie and the gang have visited many canine pleasant locations all throughout the states.

Right now is about Kevin, Rachael, Harley, and Charlie’s adventures visiting Custer State Park with Canine!

Golden Retriever sits on a rock

UPDATE: This submit was initially revealed on MyDogLikes on February twenty second, 2017. We lately up to date and republished right here on

Top-of-the-line components of a highway journey is the spontaneity and suppleness that it affords.

Heading out on the open highway with solely a tough plan in place is an expertise like no different!

That is precisely how we approached our canine pleasant highway journey final Summer time.

As an alternative of placing collectively an hour-by-hour itinerary, we determined that we’d merely play it by ear; touring as little or so far as we wished every day, and exploring no matter struck our curiosity alongside the best way.

Whereas it could appear a bit intimidating at first I’d extremely advocate that you simply give this a attempt no less than as soon as in your life – In my expertise it’s one of the simplest ways to REALLY see the nation and the entire little issues that make it so distinctive.

Retaining an Open Thoughts

We didn’t have an entire lot deliberate forward of time for the final leg of our highway journey – besides that we have been allotting a number of days to make our method house from the Jap fringe of Wyoming again to Rochester, NY.

As we entered South Dakota, the one actual merchandise on our record was Badlands Nationwide Park.

Nevertheless, a little bit of cellphone analysis whereas on the go advised us that Badlands was not going to be notably canine pleasant, and we actually wished to hit a spot the place we may get out of the automobile to do some mountaineering and exploring with the canines.

In our seek for canine pleasant hikes within the Black Hills space we got here throughout Custer State Park and determined to provide it a shot.

Right here we ended up spending virtually your complete day and having one of the memorable experiences of your complete journey!

Swimming with dogs in Sylvan Lake

Custer State Park – The Fundamentals

Positioned within the Black Hill area of South Dakota, Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres of sweeping plains, prairies, forests, mountain lakes and breathtaking granite spires.

It was designated in 1919 and has the excellence of being the primary and nonetheless largest of South Dakota’s State Parks.

Simply as exceptional because the surroundings is the huge quantity of wildlife that make their house within the park.

From one of many largest buffalo herds in North America to the huge colonies of prairie canines, nature lovers will certainly get their fill at Custer.

The place is Custer State Park?

Custer State Park is positioned in South Western South Dakota, alongside the sting of Black Hills Nationwide Forest.

Resulting from its proximity to Mount Rushmore (~30 miles) and Badlands (~90 miles) it’s typically overshadowed by its extra well-known neighbors.

Don’t miss out nevertheless – it is a should see and might simply be paired with the others!

Are Canine Allowed in Custer State Park?

YES! Leashed canines are allowed all through Custer – a welcome departure from so most of the Nationwide Parks which we had visited over the previous 2 weeks!

Harley enjoying the views of the Wildlife Loop

Custer State Park Admission

The price of admission for a single automobile is $20 which is nice for 7 days, and an annual move prices solely $30.

There are a number of entrances however the most typical of which is off Rt. 36 alongside the Jap fringe of the park.

That is additionally the place you’ll find the principle Guests Heart and Peter Norbeck Out of doors Training Heart.

Heading into Custer State Park - 20$ per vehicle

Planning Your Go to

The place to Keep – Custer Pet Pleasant Lodging

Speedy Metropolis, South Dakota

Roughly 30 miles Northeast of Custer State Park lies Speedy Metropolis which may function an important central location for a visit to the Black Hills area.

It sits simply off Interstate 90 which makes it a handy cease whether or not you might be touring from the East or the West.

There are additionally loads of resorts, motels and eating places in Speedy Metropolis to make for a stress free expertise.

Custer, South Dakota

If you need to remain proper within the midst of the Black Hills, then Custer can be your finest wager.

This historic city is just 4 miles away from the State Park, 20 miles from Mount Rushmore and likewise a brief drive from Jewel Cave and Wind Cave Nationwide Parks.

Custer is an particularly great spot to stick with kids as there are tons of museums and journey actions proper on the town.

What to Do at Custer State Park

Custer is a well-liked vacation spot for mountaineering, fishing, tenting, mountaineering, and wildlife viewing.

The simplest option to expertise the park nevertheless is to make the most of the three scenic drives: The Wildlife Loop, Needles Freeway, and Iron Mountain Street.

Driving the Wildlife Loop

Since we entered the park close to the guests middle, we began off on the 18 mile Wildlife Loop which takes you thru the Southern portion of the park.

This drive provides you with expansive views of the grasslands and hills of ponderosa pine.

Driving along the Wildlife Loop

Additionally, you will have the chance to see loads of animals, after all!

Instantly on our drive we noticed elk, pronghorn antelope, and mule deer.

Spotting a Female Pronghorn along the Wildlife Loop

That is additionally the place you’ll usually catch a glimpse of the parks 1300 sturdy herd of Buffalo! We bumped into an enormous inhabitants with loads of feeding calves!

Custer is home to one of the largest Buffalo herds in the world!

Final however not least have been the lovable households of prairie canines that make their house within the space!

You’ll undoubtedly need to cease and watch these guys go about their enterprise for a short time.

Prairie Dog popping up to say Hello!

Driving the Needles Freeway

After finishing the wildlife loop we headed North on Rt. 87 or Needles Freeway.

This is likely one of the most fascinating drives that I’ve ever skilled and should preserve you on the sting of your seat!

Be ready for tons of sharp curves, steep grades and tight squeezes via stone tunnels!

Driving through the Iron Creek Tunnel on Needles Highway

The views alongside this highway are merely beautiful. As you climb increased and better up the mountain you’ll start to see tall spires of granite popping up in each course.

This can be a standard space for rock climbers but additionally an important place to cease to do some mountaineering of your individual.

Gorgeous granite spires from the Needles Highway

We received out to stretch our legs and walked with the canines amongst a number of massive outcroppings of rock.

The views from up listed here are unimaginable and the numerous terrain makes it a ton of enjoyable to hike!

Sylvan Lake

After winding your method all the best way up the Needles freeway you’ll come throughout Sylvan Lake.

DO NOT DRIVE BY! We turned in on a whim and fell in love with this spot!

Our first look at the picturesque Sylvan Lake and its outcroppings of granite rock.

This massive mountain lake is surrounded by enormous granite spires and outcroppings. There are even some that shoot proper up out of the water.

There is a reasonably large car parking zone close by which was nice as a result of because it seems it is a highly regarded spot for sunbathers and swimmers.

Despite the fact that it was very busy on the day that we visited, it was not tough to discover a comparatively secluded spot alongside the lake.

The massive variety of rock formations lend themselves to a little bit of privateness and serenity among the many noise. One of many really distinctive features of this space!

Though it is a popular destination, it is easy to find a secluded spot along Sylvan Lake

There are additionally tons of trails across the lake which we’d extremely advocate if you’re visiting Custer State Park with canines.

On our subsequent go to we’d LOVE to camp or keep at one of many resorts up right here and probe for a number of days.

Hiking the trails atop Harney Peak with our dogs.

Driving Iron Mountain Street

After spending a number of hours at Sylvan Lake we didn’t have time to deal with Iron Mountain Street, however from what we hear this route means that you can catch 3 fast glimpses of Mount Rushmore – which by the best way doesn’t enable canines in any respect!

Wildlife at Custer State Park

As we talked about earlier than, Custer State Park is house to numerous animals together with:

  • Bison
  • Mountain Lions
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Elk
  • Coyotes
  • Mountain Goats
  • Pronghorn
  • Mule deer
  • Prairie Canine
  • Eagles and Hawks

On your finest view of Custer’s wildlife, you may even go for an off-road Jeep tour! (Not relevant if the canines are with you after all)


As we talked about above, the free vary herd roaming Custer State park numbers over 1300 and is likely one of the main sights within the park.

Every year this whole herd is corralled for the annual Buffalo Roundup the place guests are invited to observe (and really feel!) this unimaginable second.

A large bison we caught right at the entrance to Custer State Park

The inhabitants is saved fastidiously in verify to stay sustainable on the land, and extra Bison are auctioned off every Fall to begin or complement new herds across the nation.


One of many highlights of the Wildlife Loop is the pack of “begging burros.”

Whereas not native to the realm, these animals have been dropped at Custer within the early 1900’s and used for journeys as much as the Harney Peak summit.

Custer is home to a small herd of Burros

A small inhabitants has remained to this present day, which now roam the park and have a tendency to congregate in areas the place they are going to get essentially the most consideration from guests.

Running into the Burros along the Wildlife Loop

The Burros are extraordinarily pleasant and can stick their heads proper into your automobile when you allow them to.

You may even get out to pet and feed them – although do watch out!

Known as "Begging Burros" this friendly crowd is not shy about asking for a snack!

Why MyDogLikes Custer State Park

A lot of the Nationwide Parks that we visited all through our highway journey weren’t what can be described as canine pleasant.

This was not the case at Custer State Park nevertheless, which gave us a giant sigh of aid!

Canine are allowed on trails all all through the park which we took full benefit of.

There are additionally a number of completely different lakes through which they’ll take a dip to chill off.

Learn more about bringing dogs to Custer State Park in our visitors guide!

Although we didn’t have a ton of expectations entering into, Custer turned out to be one among our favourite stops on our total journey.

The land is attractive, the wildlife spectacular and park very accessible for canines. We are going to completely be again, and hopefully for an prolonged keep!

Have you ever been to Custer State Park or do you may have questions on visiting?

Tell us within the feedback beneath!

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Visiting Custer State Park With Dogs - Golden retriever sitting on a rock

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