Custer is South Dakota's Yellowstone

Publish date:

Basecamp in Custer for incredible access to these 7 legendary Black Hills sites.

1. The Loop

Mount Rushmore view from Iron Mountain Tunnel

View of Mount Rushmore from the tunnel on Iron Mountain Road

Why go: This gorgeous tour of the southern Black Hills brings you by Sylvan Lake, the Needles Highway, Custer State Park Wildlife Loop and a drive up Iron Mountain Road, featuring the dramatic entrance to Mount Rushmore and finishing with Crazy Horse Memorial.

Tip: Spend time enjoying the swimming beach and non-motorized boat rentals at Sylvan Lake.

2. Custer State Park

Wild bison in Custer State Park

Wild bison in Custer State Park

Why go: Stretching across 71,000 acres, you'll discover bison, gorgeous views, world-class hiking and fishing just 10 minutes from Custer.

Tip: Go on a two-hour guided Buffalo Safari Jeep Tour that brings families up-close with some of the 1,300 bison in the park.

More info:

3. Custer Skywalk Trail

Why go: This short, family-friendly hike leads to a summit with panoramic views that include downtown and the Cathedral Spires. It's only a half mile in length but takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Tip: The trailhead is located next to the Visitor's Center in downtown Custer.

More info:

4. Black Hills Burger & Bun

Black Hills Burger & Bun

What would you like on your burger?

Why go: This local favorite serves burgers with flair. You'll have to go to find out what The Hot Granny and Greek Goddess are all about.

Access: 441 Mt. Rushmore Rd. in Custer.

5. Skogen Kitchen

Skogen Kitchen in Custer

Skogen Kitchen in Custer

Why go: This gourmet spot serves morning classics like eggs benedict but also exotic items like Japanese French Toast with green tea ice cream.

Access: It's located at 29 N 5th St. in Custer.

6. The Baker's Bakery Cafe

Why go: Satisfy your sweet tooth with donuts and baked goods from here or order off the menu for generous portions.

Tip: The breakfast burrito here was named the "breakfast burrito of South Dakota" in a March 2014 edition of Every Day with Rachel Ray.

7. Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The face of Abraham Lincoln under construction on Mount Rushmore in 1936 with Gutzon Borglum monitoring the work.

The face of Abraham Lincoln under construction on Mount Rushmore in 1936 with Gutzon Borglum monitoring the work.

Why Go: Constructed from 1927-41, the memorial features the faces of four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Little-known fact: Why did sculptor Gutzon Borglum choose these men? He felt they presided over the country during its most important moments.

More info:

Horizontal rule

For more information:
Custer Visitor Center
(866) 601-5099
615 Washington St., Custer, SD 57730


Downtown Deadwood, S.D.

5 Black Hills Towns to Base your South Dakota Vacation

The western corner of South Dakota is filled with a string of quaint, charming towns that light up during the summer.

Don't leave Wall Drug before you take a selfie on the jackalope.

Stop at Wall Drug in South Dakota

If it wasn’t for ice water, Wall Drug may have just been another casualty of the Great Depression.

Exhibit at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center in Chamberlain, S.D.

Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center in South Dakota

Move clockwise through the museum from pre-European to "Two Worlds Meet" to "Broken Promises" and finally "Continuity and Change."

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Standing Bear in front of a scale model for the rock carving.

Crazy Horse Memorial is a Labor of Love

Near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, another rock carving in process honors Crazy Horse, the legendary Lakota leader, and his people.

Hot springs pool at Moccasin Springs in Hot Springs, South Dakota

Top 6 in South Dakota's Hot Springs

Hot Springs is home to the world-famous Mammoth Site, a Wild Horse Sanctuary, Evans Plunge, Wind Cave National Park, and a watery oases.

Aerial Adventure Park. Photo courtesy of Rushmore Tramway Adventures

Rushmore Tramway Adventures in Keystone, South Dakota

Outstanding collection of outdoor adventures: alpine slide, scenic chairlift, aerial ropes courses, and the breathtaking new Pinnacle Zipline Tour.

The Soaring Eagle Zipline Ride

Feel the Rush at Rush Mountain Adventure Park

Spend the day doing adrenaline-filled activities for nearly every age including a coaster, zipline ride, 7-D interactive ride, challenge course and cave.

Mount Rushmore near Custer, S.D.

8 Places that Make You Feel Welcome in Custer

Stay in a teepee, treehouse, campsite or hotel near Mt. Rushmore and rent an ATV or kayak for your adventure.

Historic building in Deadwood, S.D.

Let the Good Times Roll in Deadwood, S.D.

Listen to live music, walk in the footsteps of Western legends, watch re-enactments and try your luck in gaming halls in this town full of wild history.