Accessibility Tools

14 June 2024
Bison in Custer State Park, South Dakota.

I stayed in a hotel just outside the Custer State Park at Keystone, it seemed very familiar, and I am sure I once stayed there before on a road trip in the late 1980s with my friend Alistar Parry.

Custer State Park.

Custer State Park started with sixteen sections but was later changed into one block of land because of the challenges of the terrain. The park began to grow rapidly in the 1920s and gained new land.

During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps built miles of roads, laid out parks and campgrounds and built three dams that set up a future of water recreation at the park. In 1964, an additional 22,900 acres were added to the park. The park now covers an area of over 71,000 acres of hilly terrain. It is home to many wild animals, such as bison, elk, coyotes, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, river otters, pronghorn, cougars and feral burros.

My visit to the Custer State Park.

We left our hotel in Keystone, took the short drive to   Custer State Park, and drove through the park on our way to our next destination, Mount Rushmore. We drove through the park in a small minibus, and many of the bison would walk across our path, stopping traffic in both directions.

I was amazed to hear our guides' stories of stupid tourists who insisted on getting too close to these large animals and being gored or trampled. People must learn to respect these animals and give them plenty of room. My photos were taken with a good camera with a decent zoom on or from inside the minivan we were in.

I loved seeing the hundreds of bison in their natural habitat. There were lots of female bison with their young grazing whilst larger male bison patrolled around them, keeping an eye on their families. We were lucky to see some white-tailed deer crossing the road before us.

  Photos from Custer State Park.

Needles Eye Rock Formation.

The Needles Eye rock formation is part of the Needles Highway within Custer State Park. The tunnel was carved through sheer granite walls, which drivers can carefully pass through in small vehicles. When we arrived, we got off the minibus to take photos and then followed the bus through the narrow tunnel in the rocks, on foot.

As we were leaving Custer State Park, we saw Mount Rushmore in the distance as we passed an area where trees had been cut down to give a few of the monuments, and as we went through a tunnel through the hills, we got a great view of the Monument framed by the tunnel we were travelling through.

  Photos from the Needles Eye rock formation.