May 16, 2022

South Dakota Road trip Pt. 2: Under Canvas Rushmore + Custer State Park Review

Fun fact: This is the trail where we fulfilled our friend Jess– we wound up hanging out by the lake coast and splitting a bottle of rosé after our hike. (Yes, we had a bottle on ice in the cooler in our vehicle.) It was wonderful!.

Dont get me wrong, youre still extremely much glamping (there is no air conditioner in the tent) however you do have running water (you have to pull a lever to get the water to run) and incredibly good king sized bed with nice linens, nice toiletries, and of course, the holy grail, a running toilet. I was stressed it would be hot in the tent without a/c as the temperatures were topping high 80s and 90s, however it wasnt– it cools down SO much at night, it was perfect, really!.

Should you remain in Rapid City to see Mt. Rushmore?.

We drove from Chicago to Sioux Falls for the night (remained at an Air BnB), then Sioux Falls to the Badlands, where we camped for two nights. Thats where this travel plan chooses up, on day 4 of our journey!.

When you enter the park and ask them if they understand where to discover the Bison that day, extremely suggest stopping at the Wildlife station. Its a truly big park, but they can usually point you in the instructions of where they are. There were HUNDREDS– it was crazy!.

Hike, Swim, Picnic at Sylvan Lake:.

Our Itinerary– a refresher:.

Picturesque Drives: Needles Highway.

In general, we really liked our experience here! The staff was fantastic, we enjoyed that they have choices to use their grills/picnic areas if you wish to provide your own food, or you might grab your meals/beverages at the restaurant in the main building. We really liked the food offerings too, they had some great healthier choices which are pretty much nonexistent all over else in the state.

Drive the Wildlife Loop.

We just had a day to check out Custer State Park due to the fact that we were travelling through on our drive out to Oregon to see my family, but I want we d had more time! Thus, this is by NO implies a tired list, but hopefully if youve been wanting to prepare a trip, it will convince you to A. Put South Dakota on your radar, and B. Give you a valuable location to start!.

If you read my part one Badlands SD guide, youve heard me state this previously, however WOW were we blown away by how cool South Dakota was. How is this not a hotspot on everyones holiday list!? Here in the midwest, we dont have lots of cool National Park holiday locations like our good friends on the west coast, however South Dakota is one of them!

I will say, if Custer is your priority and you d like to invest as much time there as possible and youre simply looking for a location to crash, you could look into a Custer Resort in the park so you do not lose time to driving. If we returned (and I hope we do!) I would probably go that route, however Im delighted for our very first check out we did Under Canvas, since thats such an enjoyable experience!.

Custer State Park Activities:.

After camping for 2 nights in the Badlands, we figured we may be all set for some running water and a tip of civilization. If you desire a cool outdoorsy glamping experience, you will enjoy Under Canvas!

If you ever seem like you do not have it together, think about the reality that we are nearing our one year anniversary of our cross-country trip this week and Im just JUST now navigating to publishing this article! At long last, today Im sharing our Custer State Park review!.

Related: My supreme camping/hiking packaging list and Badlands SD review.

Its hard to pick an emphasize of the day, however among them was DEFINITELY driving the Wildlife Loop! Its essentially like a DIY domestic wildlife safari. My favorite part were certainly the donkeys, which arent really wild. Theyre SUPER friendly and come right up to you! They were SO CUTE!.

We left from our camping site at the Badlands (see my evaluation of the Badlands here!) early morning and drove to Rapid City, picking up lunch and a beer at Firehouse Brewing, which has a terrific open-air inside/outdoor patio area! Ending with a marionberry ice cream cone at the ice cream parlor off the square (the name is escaping me now,) before leaping back on the road is a must! From Rapid City, its just about 30 minutes to Mt. Rushmore!. Drive from Rapid City to Mt. Rushmore.

Under Canvas Mt. Rushmore Review.

South Dakota Road Trip Pt. 2.

Drive from Badlands to Rapid City.

South Dakota Road Trip Pt. 2

Lets talk more about the park itself. I had never heard of Custer State Park prior to we began researching this trip, and Im so happy we stopped here.

To be truthful, I cant say Mt. Rushmore was very high on my “should check out” locations, but if youre in the location, its great to check it off the pail list. Neal nevertheless, was passing away to see it, so we made a fast pit-stop. I believe the coolest part about it is by far the little tiny boardwalk path, which is lovely, and gets you away from the crowds and gives you a cooler perspective of Mt. Rushmore. I obviously could not resist wearing my Mt. Nasty t-shirt for the occasion. I believe the appearances I got were one of the most fun part of the whole trip..

If you d like to camp, the Game lodge campgrounds are extremely rated and look beautiful and enjoyable!.

Youve likely seen pictures of the famous Needles Highway, so if youre up for a drive, certainly check that out! Honestly it ended up being 45 minutes method from Under Canvas (which we recognized partway there) so we didnt wind up driving to the real * Needles Highway * but the drive on highway 244 heading that method was GORGEOUS and simply as excellent! There was a gorgeous neglect that we pulled into and took great deals of lovely photos! Highly suggest!.

Where to hug Custer State park?.

Wanted to keep in mind here that there is certainly the alternative to stay in Rapid City on your South Dakota trip. Its a charming little town, however personally were happy we did Under Canvas (more on that below), or I would advise staying somewhere closer to Custer State Park, like the Sylvan Lake Lodge, or an AirBnB– even if its closer to all the cool outside activities youll likely wish to do!.

I hope this was practical! We cant wait to return and would extremely recommend preparing a South Dakota journey quickly!.

Badlands to Mt. Rushmore:.

I did a great deal of research on finest treking tracks at Custer, and settled on the Sunday Gulch trail at Sylvan Lake! Its only about 3 miles however do not be tricked– it is not an easy path! But it was a VERY cool hike– there are a lot of rocks you need to scale (there are hand rails, fortunately!) and it gets laborious sometimes, but the views were beautiful! Bring your match so you can swim in the lake after the hike– it got HOT. Make sure to bring lunch to take pleasure in at the picnic tables down by the lake!

How is this not a hotspot on everyones holiday list!? Here in the midwest, we dont have lots of cool National Park getaway destinations like our buddies on the west coast, however South Dakota is one of them! I will state, if Custer is your concern and you d like to spend as much time there as possible and youre simply looking for a place to crash, you could look into a Custer Resort in the park so you do not lose time to driving. I had actually never heard of Custer State Park prior to we started investigating this trip, and Im so pleased we stopped here. Highly recommend stopping at the Wildlife station when you get in the park and ask them if they know where to find the Bison that day. Its a truly huge park, but they can generally point you in the direction of where they are.

Other accommodations choices around Custer State Park:.

In regards to area, it was the ideal in-between between Mt. Rushmore and Custer State park. Depending on where youre desiring to go in the park, expect a 30-45 minute drive!

We just had a day to invest here, however wish we d had more time! Heres what we did on our super quick see:.