We’re rounding up more than buffalo this fall. The last Friday of September, witness one of the most heart-pounding events of the year and then let the rest of western South Dakota take your breath away. Try one of our three Buffalo Roundup itineraries — Family, Foodie and Nature — and make the most of your South Dakota weekend.
Kids of all ages will enjoy the fun stops and tasty treats of this itinerary. Parents are welcome too!
Buckle up the car seats and take Needles Highway to Sylvan Lake for a hike around the pristine and placid waters. Continue to Iron Mountain Road for scenic views of Mount Rushmore National Memorial before making this American icon your next stop.
Refuel at Black Hills Burger & Bun back in Custer before stretching your legs at Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park. Cave tours may be canceled for 2020, but there’s plenty of space to explore above ground. Choose a hiking trail and discover wildlife like buffalo, big horn sheep, prairie dogs, deer and more among sprawling grasslands, ponderosa pines and even limestone cliffs.
Stop by Horatio’s Homemade Ice Cream in Custer for a waffle cone piled high with homemade ice cream before settling in for the night at Buffalo Ridge Camp Resort or Blue Bell Lodge, which also offers guided horseback rides.
Sure, the Buffalo Roundup’s sights and sounds are remarkable, but your sense of taste needs satisfaction too. Plan your weekend trip around this delectably indulgent itinerary.
Start the morning with an espresso from Custer's Calamity Jane Coffee Shop and Grill or Horatio’s Homemade Ice Cream. Remember to come back later in the afternoon for homemade sundaes or waffle cones.
After the Roundup, stop by The Custer Wolf in Custer for a late lunch of American pub grub and a range of on-tap craft beers. Be sure to try the buffalo brisket sandwich. For a zesty slice of ‘za, try Lintz Brothers Pizza in Hermosa, which is on the way from Custer State Park to Rapid City.
For those looking for a little help with digestion, try a walk through the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival. There’s also Black Elk Peak with miles of hiking trails leading directly to endless views from the highest point in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
Start your night out at Skogen Kitchen in Custer for innovative dinner options at this chef-driven concept (reservations are required). Follow your meal up with a slice of raspberry rhubarb jalapeno pie at the Purple Pie Place, and your trip and bellies will both be officially full.
When it’s time to rest, check into the State Game Lodge at Custer State Park. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this stately wood and stone lodge served as the “Summer White House” for President Calvin Coolidge. Feeling more low-key? Try Custer's EO Bungalows, where quaint cottages come with a steam shower and kitchenette.
The Buffalo Roundup is only the start of your South Dakota adventure. Try this itinerary for an active outdoor weekend.
After the Roundup, make your way to Mount Coolidge Lookout Tower. It’s the highest point in Custer State Park and perfect for a 360-degree view of where the park’s buffalo roam.
It wouldn’t be a big day outdoors without a stop at Crazy Horse Memorial. Watch history in the making as work continues on this depiction of the legendary Oglala Lakota warrior – the world’s largest in-progress mountain carving. Fuel up on-site with an order of Native American Tacos at the Laughing Water Restaurant .
Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains and a great hike to conquer. Trail #9 (7.6-miles round trip) winds through the Black Hills leading to a historic stone fire tower with views of enormous granite spires along the way. Try it along with other trails in Custer State Park like Sunday Gulch Trail or Cathedral Spires Trail.
Descend the trail and enjoy an afternoon kayaking the peaceful Sylvan Lake before cruising Needles Highway. This 14-mile stretch of the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway includes hairpin turns, tunnels through solid rock, granite spires and incredible views.
Back in Custer, a well-deserved dinner and cold beers at The Custer Wolf or Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company is a great cap to an active day. Call it a night and recharge at Legion Lake Lodge or Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer State Park. Nestled in the Black Hills surrounded by a forest of pine and spruce trees, rest in perfect harmony with the rugged landscape.