2. Custer State Park, South Dakota
Named after Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, Custer State Park in the Black Hills is the first and largest state park in South Dakota. It’s easy to get to and completely picturesque – several highways lead in and out of the park, and park campgrounds offer a variety of scenic sites along flowing streams, in pine forests or near mountain lakes.
Nature lovers will enjoy the numerous opportunities for wildlife sightings throughout the park’s 71,000 acres. Visitors can spy elk, mountain goats, pronghorns, and herds of thousands of buffalo. There’s also an 18-mile wildlife loop road at the southern end of the park, so even if the animals seem to be playing hide-and-seek farther in the park, this loop almost guarantees some animal spotting.
The sightseeing doesn’t begin and end at the park, either. The nearby Needles Highway (SD Highway 87) is a favorite for road trippers with sights that include the “Needles” slim rock formations that jut into the sky, winding roads through granite tunnels, and a beautiful lake region.
It’s summer, so take time to explore with a hike or spend a day on the crystal clear lake waters kayaking. Another scenic drive into the park is the 17-mile Iron Mountain Road (Highway 16 A), which leads visitors to Mount Rushmore National Memorial – a can’t miss if you’re in the area.
Travel Tip: Safe driving is important anywhere, but it’s especially crucial to watch your speed once you’ve entered the wildlife loop – for your safety and the safety of the animals in the park. Plus, since a lot of the animals blend into the scenery, if you speed by you’re bound to miss some of them!
Did You Know? There’s no need to forego your morning coffee routine just because you’re “roughing it” in the wilderness. Get the same delicious experience in an instant with Starbucks VIA®. Available in brewed, latte and mocha in small, single serve portions making it easy to pack with you anywhere – all you need to add is hot water.