Geowoodstock to TBEX: South Dakota’s Gem – Custer State Park (Part Two)

We weathered a few hail storms in our time at Custer but it was the “big daddy” storm that required alternate dinner arrangements since our grill was quite out of commission.
As I mentioned last time, South Dakota’s Custer State Park is far too fabulous to be contained in one post. But beyond the excitement of hail storms and miles of bison, we actually really enjoyed our home base…

The Stockade South Campground…

There are a variety of campgrounds to choose from at Custer. We chose Stockade South which is located in a western finger of the park and found it to be quite cozy. The sites were spacious and well equipped with an in-ground fire pit with grill deck as well as a rock fireplace. The fireplace is not something we’d ever seen before at a campsite but it got many bonus granola points. If I were a better cook, I’m sure I could have made great use of it… 😉

Two of the reasons for choosing Custer over nearby National Park sites was the presence of showers and electricity. A short vacation? No problem to do without. A five-week road trip during which I still needed to be able to work? Showers and electricity become a bit more of necessities. Of course, you never quite know what the facilities will be like. With campgrounds there’s usually not much to be said about the bath houses. They’re usually simple and not much to report one way or the other.

In the case of Custer that’s certainly true. The facilities were standard-issue campground infrastructure. But I do give them props for how well they balanced the campground guest load with the size of the bath house. Even with a full campground (i.e. a bustling bath house in the morning), there was never a big problem getting into a shower or to a sink.

At any rate, it was a very nice setup and comfortable place. Our site in particular was on the edge of the campground and so backed up to rocky woodlands, making easy access for pre-teen explorations. We ended up spending a good bit of time around camp, partly because it was so inviting and partly because of the presence of fellow young campers for Fred and George to play with. The subtext here is that with kids otherwise occupied in the joys of childhood play, mommy gets some work time… 😉

Geography George has no trouble keeping entertained at camp…
Dobby says you should check out the cool fireplaces at Stockade South. He would also like to point out that the squirrels here are brown, not gray and that he clearly has his work cut out for him to keep two colors of rodents at bay in the world…
Laundry day doesn’t seem like such a bad thing when you get to pass the time here. It’s certainly a true testament to Custer’s greatness that even a laundry day is a good day.

Best laundry day ever…

When you’re on the road for five weeks, you’re clearly going to have laundry days. So far on our Geowoodstock to TBEX expedition it was just something that had to be dealt with…a delay in the travel game so-to-speak. We tried to keep it to once a week but it really ended up being every five to six days, which of course meant it was time to tackle it again during our stay at Custer. And just because Custer State Park wasn’t fabulous enough, they had to up the ante and make laundry day into a good thing instead of something to be tolerated.

The laundry was located in a small outbuilding near the general store just west of the Game Lodge. So with laundry a-sloshing in the machines we had some time to kill. To our delight, the laundry and general store were nestled next to a creek which was a delight to explore while we were laundry captives. Not only that, but it was situated a short walk from the Norbeck Visitor Center which means that with all of these options to pass the time, we could have done laundry all day…

While frolicking in the stream on laundry day, I was treated to the always-odd sensation of having my toes nibbled on by fish. Let me tell you, that will awaken the senses!
George was feeling camera-shy but Fred was all-too-delighted to pop in to show you these groovy horses in Custer City.

City of Custer…

The Stockade South Campground is located on the western fringe of the park making the nearest supply point to us just a few miles west in Custer City. After our initial entry into camp, we set off to explore the city a little and stock up on a few items.

Custer City is full of western kitsch, shops, and restaurants. As is trending these days in cities, there were the themed animal statues painted in a variety of styles by various local artists. (Orlando, FL has it’s alligators; Cherokee, NC has it’s bears; etc.) No surprise that the statue theme here was bison. So we were treated to the artistic bison stylings of Custer as we explored.

Custer is also home to many museums we didn’t visit for obvious dog reasons. We did get the rare treat of an actual indoor, sit-down, restaurant breakfast on our way out of town though. The temperatures had dropped enough (ok, a lot!) for us to be able leave His Beagleness in the car in perfect comfort while we slipped into Baker’s Bakery. It was a very novel experience at this point in our journey to be sure. And oh what glorious pastries at that! Well worth the visit indeed…

One of the many things The Disapproving Beagle disapproves of is windy roads…and this area has many.

Planning your trip…

Custer State Park is a must-see if you are in the Rapid City area. With a variety of lodging choices, restaurants, and activities, you’ll be torn between staying in the park and visiting the surrounding attractions. There seems to be a little something for everyone so it’s an all-around good destination especially if your travel posse has wide-ranging ages and interests.

So with that, here’s one last link roundup to get you started on your own fabulous South Dakota adventure:

  • Custer State Park: Hike, bike, drive, boat, geocache, or just relax (to name a few)…there’s plenty to choose from here
  • Custer City: Home to many attractions ranging from the National Museum of Woodcarving to the Flintstone’s Bedrock City theme park.
  • Rapid City: The Visit Rapid City site is an excellent clearing house of links to activities for the entire area including Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, etc.
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Jewel Cave
  • Wind Cave

If you make it there, I hope you’ll pop back by here and share your adventures with me. Until then, happy camping!

And now for your moment of green…

With this kind of beauty just outside your campground it can be difficult to tear yourself away to explore the rest of the park…

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