on August 1, 2011
Custer State Park is South Dakota’s largest state park with 71,000 acres of land to explore on foot, bike, horse, or car. It is located in the beautiful Black Hills National Forest and is a great place for a family vacation. In the park you can use the many campgrounds or you can stay in a hotel out of the park. You can choose to be active and climb one of the many spires or needles created in the rock, or you can just drive around and take in the scenery. That is what we did and we loved every minute of it. Custer State Park was created in the 1920s and was named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer. The cost to enter the park is $6 per person or $15 per car. There are additional costs to camp so research the website at www.nps.govThe park has one of the largest free roaming herds of buffalo and we saw plenty of them. At one point we even had to stop the car so a few of them could cross the road. They are huge animals, a lot larger than a cow and they really don’t smell that good either. There are overlooks throughout the park where you can exit your car for a photo stop. At one of these stops we saw a women get within 10 feet of one of these large beasts. I’m not sure if she thought it was tame, but I felt that she was going over and above the norm to get a winning photo. I’m glad the animal was not frightened or angered or we might have had a stampede on our hands. We also stopped to see a family of prairie dogs playing in the grass and we also saw a herd of antelope grazing in the field across from us. You may also see mountain goats, sheep, elk, turkeys and mountain lions. We were not lucky enough to see any of those, maybe next time.It is a beautiful drive full of lakes, forests, fields of flowers and herds of animals at every turn. I think early in the morning would be a great time to visit because more animals would be out then. The park is easily accessed by the road out of Rapid City and is close to five other attractions: Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Badlands National Park. Don’t forget to visit these wonderful parks as you drive through South Dakota, you won’t be sorry.
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