May 28, 2018

Custer State Park: Rock Climbing, Hiking, Exploring, & Lodging

Custer State Park was such a beautiful and quiet getaway on our road trip through South Dakota. We stayed two nights in the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park in a cute cabin abutting the woods. This was my favorite place we stayed during our entire trip and I hope to go back again!

Wildlife Loop

Our first night in Custer State Park, we arrived to our cabin, quickly unpacked our bags and headed down the road for the Wildlife Loop. We started our drive on the Loop at 7pm, right after a thunderstorm had passed. On the Wildlife Loop we saw a lot of white tail deer, turkeys, bison (& lots of bison calves), and pronghorn. We visited the park during their off-season so I’m not sure how busy the Wildlife Loop is in the summer, but we saw very few cars which made the drive peaceful. The views were gorgeous from the rich green grass, to the rolling hills, wildlife, to the moody clouds from the thunderstorm. As we drove the Loop, we stopped several times just to listen to the birds and the stillness of the open area. At the end of the drive, there was a rainbow and followed by a very colorful sunset.

*A warning to be careful when driving by the bison – especially with the moms and their babies. We watched the truck in front of us get rammed by a mama bison!

Climbing at Sylvan Lake

Growing up I went to a rock climbing gym a couple times with friends but that was at least fifteen years ago. Rock climbing with Sylvan Rocks was my very first time rock climbing outside of a gym and I had an absolute blast! I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated when we started the day but our guide, Taylor, was super patient and helpful.

To get ourselves comfortable and confident with climbing and our harnesses, we started by climbing on smaller formations. After a while, we moved to our first big formation called the Old People’s Dome on the Creeping Senility Route. It was a pretty intimidating climb because of its height and steepness.  But, the views from the top made the climb so worth it!

For our final climb we climbed a formation that overlooked Sylvan Lake. The climb was less difficult than the Old People’s Dome, which was good because we were very tired after that climb.  The view from our last climb was of Sylvan Lake, which was pretty specular, and was the perfect way to our end climbing adventure.

I’m so thankful we were able to experience such a fun adventure on our trip through South Dakota. I love trying new activities and doing something outside of my comfort zone. I was able to learn a new skill and can’t wait to go rock climbing again! Thank you the Sylvan Rocks crew – they were amazing!

Little Devils Tower Hike

You might think we were a little crazy to go on a 3.6 mile hike after 6 hours of rock climbing, but we wanted to fit in as much as possible while exploring South Dakota. At the start of the day I was pumped and eager to go hiking after rock climbing but I owe it to Mikey for keeping up the morale after climbing and dragging my tired butt out of the car.

The hike to Little Devil’s Tower was a beautiful hike through the Black Hills with many different types of terrain. After about 1.5 miles of hiking we took a left at the “Y.” We followed the blue painted arrows on rocks that lead us to the top of Little Devils Tower. The hike is rated moderate but with the bouldering at the end of the hike, I would say it’s more of a difficult hike.

The view at the top of Little Devils Tower is breathtaking and worth the hike. I’m so happy we made time to do the hike and that Mikey forced me to go! I hope to go back to Custer State Park to do more hikes like that one!

Cabin at State Game Lodge

We stayed in the cutest and coziest cabin at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park. It was a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom cabin with a kitchen. Since our days were jammed packed with activities, it was nice to be able to make our own meals in the cabin. There was no internet or service in the cabin, which is something I personally loved about the stay. It was a real treat to unplug and relax with a book. If you’re planning a trip to Custer State Park, I highly recommend booking a stay at the State Game Lodge!

Planning a trip to South Dakota? Check out Travel South Dakota for things to do and places to stay!

This post is sponsored by South Dakota Tourism. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.





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