Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore

After leaving Montana and Wyoming we headed east to South Dakota and stayed at Custer State Park.  This park was amazing!  We all agree it should be a national park.  It’s a very big park with several different areas and campgrounds.  It’s definitely one of the coolest state parks we have been to.  I was very thankful to get a campsite there as they start taking reservations a year in advance, but I didn’t know we would be going there until about 3 months in advance.

We had lots of excitement at our campsite every day as bison came walking through.  We’re always told to never approach or go near the wildlife, but we couldn’t really help the fact that these bison were always grazing right in our campsite.  Sometimes we would be sitting outside and look up to find a bison just a few feet away!


Fat Cat was pretty scared of these things.  She wanted to run back in the house anytime she saw one.  I think she realized this animal was much too large for her to mess with.  She liked to watch from the safety of indoors.


We visited 3 different areas of this park.  First was a driving tour of the Wildlife Loop.  We saw some pronghorn sheep and bison on this loop, but honestly we thought the wildlife sightings back at our campsite were a lot more interesting.

The next evening we drove the Needles Highway.  This was an amazing drive with spectacular scenery of these tall rock formations.  I had read about this highway beforehand that mentioned 3 tunnels we would have to drive through.  The tunnels are very narrow and only one vehicle can fit through at a time.  As you know, our vehicle is rather large and we weren’t sure if we should do this drive.  The Needles Eye Tunnel is only 8’4″ wide and our truck is about 7’10” wide.  But we did it!  Chris is such a good driver. 🙂


Needles Eye Tunnel – I can’t believe we drove through this!

We hiked to the Cathedral Spires which was a beautiful hike.



Then we drove to Sylvan Lake and walked the 1 mile loop around the lake.  This was a such a fun hike because there are so many rocks to climb on!




There were also a couple of narrow passageways to walk through.


I really loved how the rocks reflected in the water like a mirror.




The next evening we drove the scenic Iron Mountain Road to go visit Mt. Rushmore.  This road also had some tunnels, but not nearly as narrow as the Needles Highway.  As we drove through the last tunnel, we could see the president’s heads in the distance.


Mt. Rushmore is one of those iconic landmarks that is a “must see” on any American road trip.



All 50 state flags are on this walkway.


The boys earned their Mt. Rushmore Junior Ranger badges.


Before we started traveling like this, I had never really given the state of South Dakota much thought.  I had no idea it is such a beautiful state with so many awesome things to do.  We visited Badlands National Park next, but I will save that for my next post.  Cheers!

Categories: National Parks, South Dakota | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore

  1. How fun, to see those bison up close! That picture made me stop browsing on Bloglovin, and come check it out myself 🙂 — and those thin walkways are awesome. We aren’t RV’ers but we admire the tenacity it must take and the freedom it affords. Looks like a great opportunity for your kiddos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Hopefully when our kids are grown they will look back on these years and remember and appreciate all the places they’ve seen. Time will tell, but for now they are enjoying it.


  2. That Needles Eye Tunnel looks like some nerve wracking driving…whew, hats off to your husband! Custer State Park looks incredible and so much more scenic than I’d imagined (especially Sylvan Lake). We missed out, but after reading your post, we’ll be sure to put it on the list for next time. I felt the same as you about SD before we visited…such a great state!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for keeping up with all of my blog posts lately! I got pretty behind with all the fun in Wyoming and Montana so now I’m catching up. I know you understand! I’ve been waiting “somewhat” patiently to read your posts on the other places you went this summer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. oh wow–those shots of the bison at your campsite are incredible! We’ll be there next summer–I’m so excited. I might need to go measure and see how wide my van is now 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this! So happy to discover your blog and that you are my neighbor for the week…all in one day!

    Liked by 1 person

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