Custer State Park

Custer State Park

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Custer State Park is a state park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

 and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills
Black Hills
The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...

 of southwestern South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, USA. The park is South Dakota's largest and first state park, named after Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer
George Armstrong Custer
George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. Raised in Michigan and Ohio, Custer was admitted to West Point in 1858, where he graduated last in his class...

.
The area originally started out as sixteen sections, but was later changed into one block of land because of the challenges of the terrain.
The park began to grow rapidly in the 1920s and gained new land. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps
Civilian Conservation Corps
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D...

 built miles of roads, laid out parks and campgrounds, and built three dams that set up a future of water recreation at the park. In 1964 an additional 22900 acres (93 km²) were added to the park.
The park covers an area of over 71000 acres (287 km²) of hilly terrain and is home to many wild animals.

The park is home to a famous herd of 1500 free roaming bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

. Elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, mule deer
Mule Deer
The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer...

, white tailed deer, mountain goat
Mountain goat
The Mountain Goat , also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its vernacular name, it is not a member of Capra, the genus of true goats...

s, bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep
The bighorn sheep is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to , while the sheep themselves weigh up to . Recent genetic testing indicates that there are three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: Ovis canadensis sierrae...

, pronghorn antelope, mountain lions, and feral
Feral
A feral organism is one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild or untamed. In the case of plants it is a movement from cultivated to uncultivated or controlled to volunteer. The introduction of feral animals or plants to their non-native regions, like any introduced species, may...

 burros
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

 also inhabit the park. The park is famous for its scenery, its scenic drives (Needles Highway and the wildlife loop), with views of the bison herd and prairie dog
Prairie dog
Prairie dogs are burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five different species of prairie dogs: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah and Mexican prairie dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico...

 towns. This park is easily accessible by road from Rapid City
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota, and the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range. The population was 67,956 as of the 2010 Census. Rapid...

. Other nearby attractions are Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park is a United States national park north of the town of Hot Springs in western South Dakota. Established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave is...

, Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States...

, Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the second longest cave in the world, with just over of mapped passageways. It is located approximately west of the town of Custer in South Dakota's Black Hills...

, Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument complex that is under construction on privately held land in the Black Hills, in Custer County, South Dakota. It represents Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The memorial was commissioned by Lakota...

, and Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, United States preserves of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States....

.

The popularity of the park grew in 1927, when U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 made it his "summer White House" and announced from the Black Hills that he would not seek a second full term in office in the election of 1928.

Museums


The Peter Norbeck Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

, and is located on U.S. Route 16A
U.S. Route 16A (South Dakota)
U.S. Route 16A is a scenic United States highway, which divides from U.S. Route 16 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The highway's eastern terminus is at a junction with US 16 called the Keystone Wye south of Rapid City, South Dakota...

 in Custer
Custer, South Dakota
Custer is a city in Custer County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 2,067 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Custer County.-History:...

. Exhibits focus on the park's natural history and cultural heritage, and include wildlife dioramas, a CCC
Civilian Conservation Corps
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D...

 bunkhouse and a gold prospecting
Gold prospecting
Gold prospecting is the act of searching for new gold deposits. Methods used vary with the type of deposit sought and the resources of the prospector...

 display. The center is named for South Dakota Governor and Senator Peter Norbeck
Peter Norbeck
Peter Norbeck served as the ninth Governor of South Dakota, and as a United States Senator. Norbeck was the first Governor of South Dakota to have been born within the borders of the state.-Biography:...

. Many of the park's naturalist programs begin at the center.

Badger Hole, also known as Badger Clark Historical Site, was the home of Charles Badger Clark
Charles Badger Clark
-Biography:Charles Badger Clark was born on January 1, 1883 in Albia, Iowa. His family moved to Dakota Territory, where his father served as a Methodist preacher in Huron, Mitchell, Deadwood and Hot Springs. He dropped out of Dakota Wesleyan University after he clashed with one of its founders,...

 (1883-1957), who was named South Dakota's first Poet Laureate in 1937 and was noted for his cowboy poetry
Cowboy poetry
Cowboy poetry cp is a form of poetry which grew out of a tradition of extemporaneous composition carried on by workers on cattle drives and ranches. After a day of work, cowboys would gather around a campfire and entertain one another with tall tales and folk songs...

. The house is maintained as it was when Clark lived there. Visitors can tour the home and hike the adjacent Badger Clark Historic Trail.

Begging Burros



Begging Burros is a name used to refer to the donkey
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

s in Custer State Park. For many years, these donkeys have earned this nickname as they approach various passing cars through the park begging for food. After earning this reputation, the burros have become famous now garnering the attention of most travelers through the park inside and outside of cars. Many people bring food to the park specifically for the purpose of feeding these animals. The Begging Burros inhabit one area of the park upon a hill where approximately 50 of them try to obtain any food they can. Custer State Park's roadway is blocked off by these animals to the point where a driver needs to beep his or her horn to pass and continue through the park.

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