Custer State Park RV & Campground Guide

South Dakota

Custer State Park

is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It’s the state’s largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer and covers an area measuring 71,000 acres. Also operating as a wildlife reserve, the area is famous for its bison herds and abundance of other species, including whitetail and mule deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, coyotes, burros, bighorn sheep, birds, wild turkeys and prairie dogs. Mountain lions and bobcats have also been spotted during the night. The park is home to stunning landscapes, including pristine lakes, streams, and granite spires. As such, visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities here, including camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, or picnicking.

In Custer, the summers are warm and mostly clear, while the winters are long, freezing, dry, and partly cloudy. The state park is open year-round, experiencing daytime highs of 82°F in summer and lows of just 15°F during winter nights. If you’re planning a visit to Custer State Park, you’ll want to ensure you’re prepared. Keep reading to find out more about camping, activities, how to get here, and more.

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Weather
Spring 23-64 F
Summer 49-82 F
Fall 23-73 F
Winter 15-40 F
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Nearby Cities
Custer, SD
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Custer State Park

There are plenty of camping opportunities in and around Custer State Park, including both within tents and RVs. If roughing-it in a sleeping bag and the tiny space that a tent offers isn’t quite your thing, then we whole-heartedly recommend the warmth, comfort, and all-round glamping that an RV offers.

If you don’t own an RV, you can easily rent an RV from RVshare that suits your individual needs – including size, budget, and more. All rentals come with nationwide insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance, and a world-class team dedicated to helping you succeed.

Custer State Park has nine campgrounds within its boundaries, including some offering modern sites with electric hookups, flush toilets, and showers. Spaces are limited however, so we’ve also listed three additional campgrounds within the local area.

Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch Resort

Located in Custer, just a short drive from the state park’s entrance, is Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch Resort. This is one of the most popular RV parks within the area, as it offers family-friendly activities such as fire-engine rides, movies, live entertainment, tie-dye crafts, and more. It’s a South Dakota stay you’ll never forget.

 

  • Water hookup: yes
  • Electrical hookup: yes
  • Sewer hookup: yes
  • Wifi: yes
  • Pet-friendly: yes
  • Other amenities: two swimming pools, laundry facilities, mini golf, propane, bike rentals, hot tub / sauna, camp kitchen, firewood, cable TV, snack bar, pavilion, dog park, bounce pillow, car rentals, climbing wall, shuttle bus, splash park, water slide.

Rafter J Bar Ranch

Just a half-hour drive from the state park is Rafter J Bar Ranch, another popular and highly rated RV park within the region. It’s comprised of five camping areas separated by alpine meadows and shaded by large ponderosa pines. Full hookups are available and daily rates start at $35.95.

 

  • Water hookup: yes
  • Electrical hookup: yes
  • Sewer hookup: yes
  • Wifi: yes
  • Pet-friendly: yes
  • Other amenities: restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, pancake pavilion, ranch store, snack bar, satellite TV, full-time camp security, dump station, gas and propane.

Horse Thief Campground & Resort

Located in Hill City, just a short drive from the state park, is Horse Thief Campground & Resort. Here, you’ll find an abundance of beauty, wildlife, and a little bit of the old west, blended with modern conveniences. The facility is sprawled across 40 acres of some of the most prized mining territory. Sites start at $24 per day.

 

  • Water hookup: yes
  • Electrical hookup: yes
  • Sewer hookup: yes
  • Wifi: yes
  • Pet-friendly: yes
  • Other amenities: fire rings, tables, ice and firewood for purchase, restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, heated swimming pool, playground, sports fields, pavilion, camp store.

RV Rentals Near Custer State Park

Nearby RV Rentals

Restaurants

What to Do at
Custer State Park

Inside Custer State Park

Custer State Park might be very popular for camping, but people also enjoy visiting the region because of the wide range of fun outdoor activities on offer. Whether you’re hoping to enjoy hiking or biking the park’s scenic trails, fishing, swimming, or more – there’s certainly something for every type of traveler at Custer State Park.

Trails: There are miles of trails and backcountry roads to explore in Custer State Park. Several of these trails are shared by hikers, horse riders and mountain bikers. Some of the most popular trails include the Prairie Trail, Creekside Trail, and Badger Clark Historic Trail.

Fishing: There are several popular trout creeks, such as French Creek and Grace Coolidge Creek, inside the park, as well as lakes (including Sylvan, Center, Legion, Stockade) which house trout, bass, walleye and pike. To fish in South Dakota, you need a fishing license, however this can be purchased online prior to your trip.

Swimming: Swimming is allowed at the park’s five lakes: Center Lake, Legion Lake, Stockade Lake, Sylvan Lake and the Game Lodge Pond. Visitors must take care when swimming, however, as no lifeguards patrol the area.

Events: Activities and programs are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. These include Naturalist Programs for children and adults, patio talks, Bison Olympics, Art in the Park, guided hikes, and more. Popular annual events at the park include the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival, as well as a buffalo auction held every November.

Outside Custer State Park

If you thought Cluster State Park has plenty of activities on offer, then you’re going to be delighted by how many experiences are available to you outside of the park in the surrounding area, including sightseeing opportunities and must-visit restaurants.

Restaurants

Black Hills Burger and Bun Co

The local city of Custer is home to numerous, popular restaurants, including Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. This trendy burger restaurant features a creative, mouth-watering menu, with favorites such as cheese curds, fried pickles, and burgers in both meat and meat-free varieties.

Type: Burger restaurant

Location: Custer, SD

Buglin' Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar

If sports, beer, and pub grub are three of your favorite things, then a visit to Buglin' Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar is in order. They serve hearty meals the whole family will enjoy, including sandwiches, steaks, prime rib, homemade pizzas, and more. Plus, there’s a full bar on offer.

Type: Sports bar / bistro

Location: Custer, SD

Ruby House Restaurant

Just over a half-hour drive from the state park is Ruby House Restaurant, which serves hearty American fare in an Old West inspired venue. Enjoy delicious prime rib, steaks, seafood, buffalo steaks, ribs, and a full-service bar. A kid’s menu is also available.

Type: Old West themed restaurant

Location: Keystone, SD

Sightseeing

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The state park is less than a 40-minute drive from one of the country’s most famous landmarks: theMount Rushmore National Memorial. This massive mountainside sculpture features the carvings of four former American presidents’ faces, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. You won’t want to miss it.

Location: Keystone, SD

Reptile Gardens

You won’t see too many reptiles at Custer State Park, but if you visit the nearby Reptile Gardens, you’re sure to see species such as snakes, alligators, giant tortoise, and more. In fact, Reptile Gardens has more species and subspecies of reptiles than any other zoo or wild animal park in the world! Rates range from $8 - $18 per person.

Location: Rapid City, SD

Black Hills Central Railroad

Fancy a scenic steam train ride through the Black Hills region? This vintage locomotion has been in operation since 1957 and follows the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s. It’s the oldest continuously operating tour railroad in the nation! Tickets start at $12, one way.

Location: Hill City, SD

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How to Get to
Custer State Park

Custer State Park is less than 30 miles from Rapid City. Head north on Mt Rushmore Rd towards St Joseph St then turn right at the 1st cross street onto St Joseph St. St Joseph St turns slightly right and becomes Cambell St. Continue onto SD-79 S before turning right onto SD-36 W. Continue onto US-16A W and you will reach the state park.

Entering Custer State Park

Temporary license : $20

A temporary (1-7 days) license is required. These can be purchased at any of the five entrance stations.

We’re very excited that you’re planning a trip to Custer State Park. Once you’ve finished exploring all that the park has to offer, there are also some incredible opportunities waiting for you outside of its gates! During or after your stay, we encourage you to tag us in any of your social media posts, or why not share your photos and experience with us at [email protected]? We may even feature your story on our blog or social media channels. Happy camping!