Custer is a great base to explore much of the Black Hills National Forest. Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave National Monument, and Wind Cave National Park are less than 30 minutes away. The town itself is just a few blocks and seems to be a mix of tourist and resident. There are a handful or restaurants shops and other services.
Buffalo Ridge Campground
I think I pretty much lucked into the Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort and I was so glad to find it.
I was in site 611 and much prefer the sites at the back of the campground vs those in the 100-400 rows. Those lower sites are much closer together and out in the open. The sites in the back were more wooded and spread out, but the sweeping views were a little more obscured.
There a plenty of camping options in the campground for those who don’t have their own rigs. Teepees, glamping tents, primitive cabins, and cushy cabins are all available for rent. Other amenities include a heated pool (including adults-only time), a snack bar, kayak rentals, frisbee golf, playground, laundry, and bath/shower rooms.
The campground rests on a hill overlooking the town of Custer. Views of the Black Hills are plentiful.
One of the most serendipitous things about this campground happened on my first full vacation morning. As I was getting ready for a hike, I heard the sound of burners firing above me. I ran out to see four hot air balloons descending from over the ridge to land in the campground fields. This seems to be a common practice as I witnessed them fly over a second morning. What a nice surprise!
One of the places that kept popping up in my research of the Black Hills region was a small, upscale restaurant in town of Custer. I love my solo travels, but I have found I tend to be less likely to take advantage of things like restaurants when I am by myself. Booking a reservation for one at a nice restaurant was a new challenge and I am go glad I engaged in it.
I was seated at a bar at the window with a view of the street and surrounding mountains. The menu feature local ingredients is an elevated comfort food cuisine. I started with the fresh local melon and prosciutto special. For my main I took the suggestion of my server and enjoyed a rabbit leg over mashed potatoes. Normally, I don’t indulge in dessert if I have had an appetizer, but their Chocolate Camp Fire – their version of a smore featuring chocolate panna cotta, balsamic meringue, and a cloche of smoke – was too appropriate to pass up.
It is such a treat to find fine dining in a small mountain town. I was so glad I went outside of my comfort zone for this wonderful experience.
Mt Rushmore Brewing Company
One of the highlights of staying at the Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort was is the convenience of walking into the town of Custer. A very easy stroll takes you to the Mt Rushmore Brewing Company and Pounding Fathers Restaurant. The brewery offers a full menu of nice pub food and is very dog friendly while the restaurant is upstairs and fine dining (despite the name) so I never took advantage of that. My first evening I decided to stop by for a beer while out on a walk with Blue. The menu looked good so I tried a pork belly sandwich. I returned later in the week for a burger. I enjoyed all of the beers I sampled as well. It wasn’t the best food I have ever had, but the atmosphere was incredible and I greatly enjoyed my meals looking at the surrounding hills and the nice walk back to the campground. Tip: the Mickelson Trail is a nice path into town and can be picked up off Centennial Drive.
I stopped by a couple other places in town that I can recommend. The adventurous can pick up fresh sushi while doing laundry at Lynn’s Dakotamart, a decent grocery store. Mostly I stuck to grocery basics but visited a few times. I also have to recommend the Purple Pie Place for excellent pies in unique flavors – perfect for my Burrowing Owl lifer pie!