Activities

Photo © SD Tourism

Activities and Programs in Custer State Park

Programs generally run from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Please see park staff for specific information on the program schedule during your visit. Be sure to check the Events Calendar to see all the daily happenings in the park. 

Adventure Hikes

  • Tuesday - 8:30 a.m.
  • Meets at the trailhead for the noted trail
  • Designed for older children and adults or people who enjoy more strenuous hikes
  • Interested in tackling Sunday Gulch Trail but not sure you want to do it alone.  Or maybe you’d like to learn as you hike Lovers Leap Trail.  Join a naturalist on Tuesday morning to explore one of the trails in the park. 

Bison Olympics

  • Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - 1 p.m.
  • Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Program
  • All ages
  • Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Bison?  Come learn just how fast a bison can run, or how they can jump.  Learn about how much food and water they need every day.  And then see how you compare.

Caravan

  • Saturdays at 6 p.m.
  • Departs from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • Follow a naturalist around the Wildlife Loop Road to learn about the wildlife, geology, and history of the park.
  • Participants drive their own vehicle.

Evening Programs

  • Every night – 9 p.m.
  • Various Campgrounds—check the schedule for specific locations and topics
  • People remember these quintessential evening campground programs from when they were younger.  Topics range from the history of the bison herd within the park to the impacts of fire on the Black Hills ecosystem. 

Family Hikes

  • Saturday - 10 a.m.
  • Creekside Trail meets at Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • Badger Hole Trail meets at Badger Hole Memorial Site
  • All ages
  • This is your chance for the kids to pepper the naturalist with questions as they encourage you to use four of your five senses to explore the world around you.
  • Creekside Trail is stroller and wheelchair friendly. 

Hook ‘em & Cook ‘em

  • Sunday, Monday, Friday – 9 a.m.
  • Sunday at Grace Coolidge Walk-in Fishing Area (Hwy 16A)
  • Monday and Friday at Center Lake
  • All ages
  • This is an opportunity for novices and beginners to try their hand at fishing; it’s also an opportunity for avid anglers as well.   Bring your own fishing gear or borrow some of ours (pole, hook, bobber, and bait) and match your wits with a rainbow trout.  If you’re successful the naturalist will show you how to clean and filet the fish and a quick, easy way to cook it. 
  • Participants in this program DO NOT need a South Dakota fishing license, regardless of age.

Junior Naturalist

  • Every day - 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • Hands-on, in-depth topic exploration for ages 7-12.  Learn about bison, or adaptations, or fish.  The morning session occurs at the same time as the Pups Prowl for younger children.  One of the required programs for children working to earn their Junior Naturalist Patch.

Paddling

  • Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday - 1 p.m.
  • Center Lake
  • All ages
  • Paddling is a basic introductory course to introduce visitors to the basic parts of the canoe, simple paddling techniques, and water safety and a chance to try out your new skills.  We also offer kayaks and paddleboards.  
  • Canoes & kayaks: Children must be 7 years or older, weigh at least 50 lbs, and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Paddleboards: Children must be 7 years or older, weigh at least 80 lbs, and be accompanied by an adult (remains on shore or utilizes another paddleboard).

Patio Talks

  • Every day - 10 a.m.
  • Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • All ages
  • Stop in for an informal chat with a naturalist about Custer State Park’s history or nature or geology or ask your most pressing question.

Pups Prowl

  • Every day – 9 a.m.
  • Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • Activity based nature exploration for ages 3-6.  Occurs at the same time as the morning Junior Naturalist program for older children.  One of the required programs for children working to earn their Pups Patch.

Stories in the Shade

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 1 p.m.
  • Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
  • All ages
  • Attend our new program and enjoy a relaxing story in the shade of the majestic burr oak trees.  Listen to the naturalist read a story and then use our story stones to create a new story.

Visitor Center Talks

  • Every day -  4 p.m.
  • Custer State Park Visitor Center
  • All ages
  • Stop in for an informal chat with a naturalist about Custer State Park’s history or nature or geology or ask your most pressing question.

Wildlife Station Visitor Center Talks

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 2:30 p.m.
  • Wildlife Station Visitor Center
  • All ages
  • Stop in for an informal chat with a naturalist about the plants and animals found in the mixed-grass prairie in Custer State Park. 

The Black Hills Playhouse

The Black Hills Playhouse is one of the oldest, continuously operated theater companies in the nation. Each summer the playhouse produces high-quality, live performances featuring musicals, comedy and drama. Custer State Park provides a unique setting for this intimate and dynamic theater experience.

Virtual Geocache Adventure

Custer State Park offers a Virtual Geocache Adventure each year. No physical caches are hidden. Instead, nature provides the answer! Seven waypoints will guide participants to a natural or historic landmark, an interpretive sign, a scenic area or overlook to find the answer to a variety of questions.

Interested participants should stop by the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center and pick up the Virtual Geocache brochure. The hunt is June 1 - October 31. Answers are not revealed until after October 31. Participants who successfully find the correct answer will be entered into a drawing for a variety of prizes.

Geocache Booklet

Seasonal Volksmarch

Volksmarches are non-competitive walks along pre-marked routes. Teaming up with the Black Hills Volkssport Association, Custer State Park offers a seasonal trail for interested hikers. For more information or to make group arrangements, contact the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center at 605.255.4464. Check our Events Calendar for dates.

Where to Start: Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center
Registration: Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center, daily 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Distance: 6.2 miles 
Fees:

  • Hike only: $2
  • Credit only: $3
  • Credit and "B" award: $4

Wildlife Loop Road Caravan

The caravan departs from the Visitor Center at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the days it’s scheduled.  Please contact the park for specific times.