Custer State Park is approximately 71,000 acres and filled with fabulous granite peaks, open spaces, and numerous wildlife. There are multiple scenic drives inside Custer State Park, including the eighteen-mile Wildlife Loop Road. Visitors should not be surprised when they see a bison or two while visiting the park, because there are at least 1,300 of them roaming freely. In September, the park holds an Annual Buffalo Roundup and people can go watch as the bison are rounded up and driven to another area.
The Crazy Horse Memorial was created to honor the culture, tradition, and heritage of the Northern American Indians. Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve the memorial. The carving of the entire memorial is 641 feet long and 563 feet high, however the carving is still a work in progress and the dimensions could change as the work continues.
The Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the world and there are more than 180 miles of passages that can be explored. There are multiple tours available at Jewel Cave including the Scenic Tour, Discovery Talk, Historic Lantern Tour, and the Wild Cave Tour. Visitors are also encouraged to take a hiking tour during the warmer months to learn about the pine forest that surrounds the cave.
Sylvan Lake is known as the Crown Jewel of Custer State Park and this lake was created when Thoedore Reder constructed a dam over Sunday Gulch back in 1881. Most people will want to go swimming and enjoy a picnic lunch while at the lake, however, others will want to take advantage of the fantastic rock climbing and hiking opportunities. Sylvan Lake is the best starting point for hikes to the Black Elk Peak and The Needles.
The Needles Highway Scenic Drive was planned and created by former South Dakota Governor Peter Norbeck, who personally marked the entire road as he rode on horseback and walked the route. The construction of this scenic drive was completed in 1922 and now millions of people can drive along the fourteen-mile road to see views of the mountains, forests, and low lying meadows. This scenic drive is only open from the spring until the fall, so visitors will want to plan accordingly if they want to venture there to catch a glimpse of the Needle’s Eye, which is a rock formation that was created by wind, rain, and the freezing and thawing of the rain and snow.