Exploring Custer State Park in South Dakota

It’s time to wrap up our trip to South Dakota. In fact we’re driving home as I write this. We saw and did a lot but also had plenty of down time. The last couple days of our strip we spent some time exploring Custer State Park and our KOA campground.

Exploring Custer State Park

We drove through Custer State Park in search of buffalo. They have a herd of 1300 that’s supposed to be fairly visible. We did see one buffalo before we actually got into the park but then didn’t spot any all along our drive.

The park, however, is beautiful with lots of great views! Needles Highway was a neat drive. Needles Eye Tunnel,which is only 8 feet 4 inches wide, was particularly fun to go through!

Custer State Park Visitor Center

We thought we were almost done when we made a stop that we wish we had come to at the beginning of our drive. The Visitor Center was very cool with a lot of good information and some incredibly helpful people. They pointed us in the right direction of some buffalo that had been spotted that morning. The buffalo were down a dirt road that we had missed.

Before we headed back out to find the buffalo, though, we watched a well done movie in the Visitor Center’s very nice theater. The movie told all about the park’s history and highlighted some of the things you can do in there. It’s such a huge park! We could probably spend a week in Custer State Park alone. The boys also enjoyed this fun climbing wall in the Visitor Center.

Custer State Park Buffalo

We found the buffalo! It was just a little drive back the way we had been and down a well maintained dirt road. This certainly wasn’t the whole herd, but we (the boys especially) were excited to find them.

Iron Mountain Road

Our drive back to the campground took us over Iron Mountain Road which was built to have a view. There were points all along it that gave glimpses of Mount Rushmore. The most fun points, though, are the tunnels that frame the monument as you go through them. Though not as narrow as Needles Eye Tunnel, the smallest of these tunnels is only 13 feet wide. That’s still pretty tight!

KOA Activities

The Mount Rushmore KOA could be described as a campground resort. There is so much to do in the campground! We chose a couple of the fun activities to do on the last day there.

Horseback Riding

For a long time, our oldest has wanted to ride a horse. On Monday, Jeremy got to make that wish come true for him when he took him on a horseback ride at the campground. He loved it and just can’t stop talking about “Mint”.

This little guy wasn’t old enough for the real horseback ride, but he was a trooper and hung out with Mom.

Here we are waiting for the riders to get back.

Bike Ride

I’m not the greatest at selfies, but this is us riding on a 4 seater “bike” at the campground. The boys had been watching people on them all week and were just dying to try it.

Campfire Tip and S’mores

It’s a bit tricky getting a fire to burn since it’s been raining so much in South Dakota. We were determined to have our s’mores though and got a fire going. Here’s a tip: soak cotton balls in Vaseline–they make great fire starters!

Presidential Wax Museum

Our stay at the KOA included free entry to the National Presidential Wax Museum in Keystone, SD. It was interesting to learn about a lot of the presidents and neat to see what they might have looked like (or look like for those still alive). Some of the likenesses were very impressive! They also had a short video about how they are made which was interesting.

Now we’re headed home. We had an easy breakfast, packed up the trailer, and got on the road. It was a fun trip, and we’ll be back to South Dakota for sure!

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