6 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Custer


The small town of Custer is a great base for exploring the surrounding area which holds some of the state's best attractions. Highlights nearby include Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Less well known in the area, but often equally impressive for children, is the Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park. Custer has a wide range of hotel options to accommodate the large number of tourists who flock to this area in the summer months, with everything from budget motels to historic lodges.

1 Custer State Park

Custer State Park, located north of Wind Cave National Park, is richly stocked with wild game. An early morning or late afternoon drive on the Wildlife Loop Road is a rewarding experience.

The highlight of the wildlife viewing is the free-roaming bison herd that numbers about 1,300. Needles Highway, Wildlife Loop, and Iron Mountain Road traverse the area allowing for scenic drives. Mountain streams and man-made lakes provide fishing, swimming and boating opportunities. Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is surrounded by huge rock formations that rise from the water's edge. Fishing, camping and boating opportunities are available. Harney Peak is another one of the parks impressive features.

2 Crazy Horse Memorial

A few miles north of Custer is the Crazy Horse Memorial, a Mount Rushmore style mountain carving. The initiative for this other gigantic piece of rock sculpture (606 ft) came from a Lakota chief named Standing Bear, who sought thereby to remind the world that the Indians too had produced great heroes like Crazy Horse, the real victor in the battle on the Little Bighorn River. Work on the monument was begun in 1947 by Korczak Ziolkowski (1908-82), a sculptor of Polish origin, and continued after his death by members of his family. It is still not completed, but as the head and upper body are finished the memorial was officially dedicated in 1998. The Indian Museum of North America also stands on the site.

3 Jewel Cave National Monument

Just 13 miles west of Custer is Jewel Cave National Monument, a karstic cave in which crystals of calcareous sparkle like jewels. Currently with more than 166 miles of mapped passages, Jewel Cave is the third longest cave system in the world. It features sparkling calcite crystals, delicate strands of gypsum, and other cave formations. The large rooms are strewn with boulders, tight crawl spaces, and dark fissures leading into the unknown.

4 Needles Highway Scenic Drive

Running through Custer State Park, the Needles Highway is a magnificent scenic mountain road (SR 87). It winds its way through the imposing landscapes of the central Black Hills, with bizarre rock pinnacles, granite spires, tunnels, and the almost fairy-tale-like Sylvan Lake.

5 National Museum of Woodcarving

The National Museum of Woodcarving showcases beautiful scenes created by an original animator of Disneyland. The museum displays the unique works of many of country's best woodcarvers. Woodcarvers also create pieces on site, giving visitors the opportunity to see their skill in action. Classes are available for those wishing to learn the art.

Address: Highway 16 West

6 Flintstones Bedrock City Theme Park

Bedrock City near Custer is a stone-age setting park designed to entertain young children, with a reproduction of the set and characters of the Flintstones television cartoon show. A small train runs around the park. There is a full service campground, and camping cabins are also available.

Address: 422 West Mt. Rushmore Road

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