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Custer State Park Campground:  South Dakota

Custer State Park Campground: South Dakota

Setting up camp at Custer State Park’s Campground Grace Coolidge Campground seemed like heaven to us after driving for two solid days.  The campground is small and quiet and attracts wildlife – we saw several species of birds in the trees beyond our campsite as well as a HUGE owl that flew directly over our camper.

YIKES! There's a buffalo in our front yard!

YIKES! There’s a buffalo in our front yard!

We also came back from exploring one late afternoon to find a bison/buffalo camped almost in our front yard!

Grace Coolidge Campground was maybe the smallest of the campgrounds in the park but it was conveniently located to visit Wind Cave Nat’l Park, all three Custer State Park scenic drives as well as Mt Rushmore National Memorial.  It was also the only campground in the park that still had reservations available by the time we decided to go – a month or so before our September visit.

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WebsiteCuster State Park

Click for a Park Map showing locations of all campgrounds, as well as the scenic drives – Wildlife Loop, Iron Mountain and the Needles.  Here’s the Custer State Park Campgrounds web page with a good overview and links to all the campgrounds, campground maps and reservations information:

Custer State Park Campgrounds

Campground Map

Most of the 8 Custer SP campgrounds have electricity, running water, flush toilets and showers.
Grace Coolidge Campground Map

Towering rock face on the other side of the creek - this is the view from my chair in the campsite.

Grace Coolidge Campground is located directly on the main park road.  Grace Coolidge Creek nestles below towering rock cliffs on the back side of the campground providing bubbly brook white noise offsetting the road noise during the day.  In the evening there’s essentially no traffic, so noise is not an issue.

Other campgrounds we visited:  Blue Bell, Center Lake (no electricity), Game Lodge (across from the new Visitors Center) and Sylvan Lake.

More campgrounds are listed on the main Custer State Park website.

Reservations:  1-800-710-2267 or online:  Custer State Park Campground Reservations

Local Park Telephone Number:  605.255.4515

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Showers:   Yes!  Nice clean showers with good water pressure & hot water!

Scenic Value:  Good, nestled alongside the main park road, Grace Coolidge Creek, towering trees and sheer rock cliffs, the campground is relatively scenic.

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Grace Coolidge Creek – directly behind our campsite.

Mosquitos/Bugs:  NONE!   Well maybe one bug in the almost week we stayed there?  No one had screen enclosures up and the camp hosts told us one of the advantages of Custer State Park was NO BUGS. 

Noise Levels:   During the daytime hours, the main park road has some traffic noise, but if you get a site along the creek at the back of the campground, the traffic noise is minimal and the creek white noise is welcome.  After about sundown, the traffic is not a concern as it’s almost nil.

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A bit of maneuvering was necessary to get our Lance 1685’s slideout out of the road and still park our Tundra in the same campsite.

Campsite: We were in Site #10E which is one of the pull-off sites.  These sites are not large and we had a bit of a challenge to get our #Lance 1685 21 foot trailer far enough off the road to keep the slideout out of traffic.  The sites also require leveling.  If we were going back, we’d reserve #6E – a back in spot on the corner so there’s more room and still close to Grace Coolidge Creek.  

Claustrophobia Quotient.  Better than most, definitely better than commercial RV Parks!  We could see our neighbors but not intrusively.

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Did I mention the buffalo? David’s standing in our campsite taking a photo of our late afternoon visitor.

Access to Essentials:  There is a park store that has some convenience items, as well as souvenirs.  Ice cream was available, but we were chilled and didn’t opt for a treat.  Other essentials (gas, groceries & a few restaurants) are available in the town of Custer, SD, approximately 15 miles away.

Campsite Price: $25 per night (Fall 2016), plus a $7.70 non-refundable reservation fee, plus a park entrance fee.  Note that if you make a reservation over the phone, an additional $2 charge will be added.

Have you camped at Custer State Park?  Which campground did you like and why?  Please leave a comment and share with TrailerTraveler readers!  Cheers!  Jan

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    4 Comments

  1. Hi Jan
    I noticed you use the park showers. Do you have a shower in the Lance and is it better to use the park shower when available we are new to the trailer camping and need to learn the pros and cons
    Thank you

    • Hi Susan! Yes, we have a very nice shower in our Lance 1685. Unfortunately it’s a corner shower and small. It has lots of hot water and decent water pressure. We choose to use park showers when they’re decent just to keep the shower curtain in the trailer from sticking to our backsides. 🙂 We looked into getting solid doors – and may next summer, but because of the shower size, they’ll need to be custom made. Lots of 1685 owners that do a lot of boondocking (which we hope to do soon!) have added a larger shower extension rod which keeps the curtain farther away, but we’d really rather have a hard door. We’ll see. Until then, lots of state park showers are wonderful! Including Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama where we just left! Cheers! Jan

  2. the Dakotas are on my list. great reviews…thank you. blessings, scott

    • Enjoy Scott! And be sure to take your time – it’s one of those places we “hurried through” enroute. Should have left more time to explore the Dakotas! Cheers! Jan

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