Custer State Park is nestled in the legendary Black Hills and is the oldest and at almost 71,000 acres the largest in the extensive South Dakota State Parks system. Within the park are four distinct resorts offering Custer State Park lodging that will appeal to all tastes—State Game Lodge (including the new Creekside Lodge with its oversize rooms), Sylvan Lake Lodge, Blue Bell Lodge, and Legion Lake Lodge. Each of the lodges has a full service dining room serving local specialties including buffalo, pheasant, venison, and trout.
Built in 1920, the stone and wood State Game Lodge is set in a mountain valley and surrounded by ponderosa pine forest. The Grace Coolidge Creek winds its way through the valley and provides excellent trout fishing. This Custer State Park lodging was the Summer White House for President Calvin Coolidge (the creek was named for his wife), and the lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to this lodge, there is a new and luxurious Creekside Lodge. Additionally, there are cozy Custer State Park cabins and motel-type rooms. Some of the cabins are housekeeping cabins, meaning you bring your own cooking utensils and do the cooking, that can sleep as many as sixteen. If you want to pay a bit more, you can stay in the same rooms occupied by Coolidge and President Eisenhower. One of the things to do here is take the popular Custer State Park Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours that begin at this lodge.
At an altitude of 6,250 feet, Sylvan Lake Lodge is a mountain lakes resort with a view courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright who suggested the current location after the original lakeside lodge burned down in 1935. This Custer State Park lodging now sits amid a forest of evergreen trees with Sylvan Lake, one of the area's crystal-clear mountain lakes, sparkling below. There are also Custer State Park cabins here, both one-room sleeping cabins without kitchens and larger housekeeping cabins that can sleep as many as ten people. The resort's Sylvan Auditorium is next door to the lodge and is available for family reunions or other group events. In addition to the swimming, boating, and fishing available in the lake, there are several miles of hiking trails, and the lodge dining room will prepare picnic lunches if you plan to be out all day.
The Blue Bell Lodge has the feel of an intimate guest ranch, all the way down to its horseback riding trails and signature chuck wagon cookouts. All lodging here is in Custer State Park cabins, including cozy cabins for two and housekeeping cabins that sleep as many as eight people. The dining room serves hearty home-cooked meals. Legion Lake Lodge is named for the American Legion Post that once leased the land. It is a laid-back, casual resort with cabins suitable for families. All cabins have a private fire pit. Water activities and bike trails are available for all family members, and dining is at an informal bakery, deli, and a burger joint.
Custer State Park has much more to offer than these four resorts. If you prefer Custer State Park camping to traditional lodges and cabins, you will find eleven different campgrounds. These include a camping area for groups only and one for equestrians only, with both cabins for people and stables for horses. Most of the campgrounds have some electrical hook ups. Other park attractions include the exciting annual buffalo roundup in September, when the park's 1,500 or so buffalo are moved to a corral area to control the numbers of the herd that can be sustained in the park. Other events during the roundup include an Arts Festival and Chili Cook Off. If you're branching out to other sites near Custer State Park you won't have far to go. The historic towns of Keystone and Rapid City are quite close, as are Wind Cave National Park, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and iconic Mount Rushmore.