“CINNAMON BABY” SIGHTING IN CUSTER STATE PARK WEDNESDAY APRIL 11, 2018

This is the first calf I have seen this year on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. Hope it does well with the upcoming storm.
All Images: Herb Ryan Photography, Custer, SD.

Buffalo calf and cow behind brush on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

 

Moved the jeep to a better vantage point. These are wild animals and I take all precautions especially when a calf is present. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

 

And along came a not so itsy bitsy log skidder that made the group of 15 to 20 Buffalo move in a hurry. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

 

This little “Cinnamon Baby” got off the feed bag pretty quick and ran for the hills. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

 

View of Legion Lake Fire from Red Valley Road in Custer State Park. Notice the “Green” fighting it’s way back in. Herb Ryan Photography

 

Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants $1.8 Million to Support Custer State Park Fire Rehabilitation Project

Custer State Park, S.D. – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded a $1.8 million grant to Custer State Park to aid rehabilitation efforts following last December’s Legion Lake Fire.

The fire burned nearly 50 percent of Custer State Park’s 71,000 acres and is the third largest fire in Black Hills recorded history.

“The Legion Lake Fire took us all by surprise and could have been much, much worse, if not for the hard work and heroic efforts of our firefighters,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “It was South Dakota at its best; people from across the state and region pulled together in a time of need. And that hard work continues through rehabilitation efforts with help from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. By peak season, park staff will have the park in pristine condition, ready to give visitors the high-quality experience they have provided for decades.”

The grant funds will be put to immediate use extending over a three-year period to support aerial mapping, tree thinning, reseeding, weed control, erosion control and stream rehabilitation efforts.

“Custer State Park is truly a gem for the entire state of South Dakota,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “The Helmsley Charitable Trust has already made significant investments in the park, providing funding for the theater in the visitor center and the remodel of the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. We are pleased to assist with strategic efforts to mitigate the effects of the devastating fire and ensure visionary steps are taken to secure the park for future generations.”

Custer State Park to Host Snowshoe Hikes

Photo: Don White/Pixabay.com

January 6, 2018

CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – Custer State Park will be offering winter snowshoe hikes again this year in the months of January, February, and March.

The Game Lodge Snowshoe Hike will be held Saturday, January 13 and will guide participants through a pine forest overlooking Game Lodge Campground, near Grace Coolidge Creek. The two-mile hike is considered easy and will take nearly two hours to complete.

The hike will depart at 10 a.m. from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center.  If there is enough snow, snowshoes are provided; however, reservations are required to checkout snowshoes by calling 605-255-4515.  If the amount of snow does not allow for snowshoeing, a guided hike will still be held.

There is no cost for participation in the hikes or snowshoe checkout; however, a park entrance license is required.

Participants should dress appropriately for the weather, as temperatures in the Black Hills can be unpredictable. Any footwear can be used with snowshoes; however, waterproof hiking boots are recommended.

Custer State Park will host two other snowshoe hikes this winter.  The Lover’s Leap Snowshoe Hike will be held twice on February 10 at 10:00 a.m. and Noon.  The Sylvan Lake Snowshoe Hike will be held March 10 at 10:00 a.m.   Reservations for these hikes can also be made by calling 605-255-4515.

There is a snowshoe checkout opportunity until April 1, 2018.  Those interested in checking out a pair of snowshoes and hiking in various areas of the park can stop by the Custer State Park Visitor Center.  There is no charge to check out snowshoes.  The hours of the visitor center are 10am-4pm Monday – Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Snowshoes are not checked out the day of scheduled guided hikes.

South Dakota State Park Fee Changes Go Into eEffect January 1, 2018

December 20, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Changes to state park campground classifications, as well as some entrance and facility fees will go into effect Jan. 1.State Park director Katie Ceroll said the changes reflect the increased demand for and use of the state’s campgrounds and facilities.

The department reviewed campground occupancy rates, which are used to determine the classification of the campgrounds and the per night fees charged. Camping fees for each of the classifications will not change, but fees at several parks will see a modest increase as they are moved into the correct category.

The following campground classifications include:

  • Basic campgrounds: Campgrounds without modern facilities. $11 nightly per non-electric site; $15 nightly per electric site. Includes 5 campgrounds.
  • Modern campgrounds: Less than 80% weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $13 nightly per non-electric site; $17 nightly per electric site. Includes 7 campgrounds.
  • Preferred campgrounds: 80-89% weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $15 nightly per non-electric site; $19 nightly per electric site. Includes 6 campgrounds.
  • Prime campgrounds: 90% or higher weekend occupancy during the summer; feature restrooms and showers. $17 nightly per non-electric site; $21 nightly per electric site. Includes 31 campgrounds.

Other fee changes include:

  • Elimination of the per person daily entrance license. The $6 per vehicle daily entrance license remains unchanged.
  • Camping cabin fee increase to $45 in all parks except Custer, which will remain $50 per night.
  • Campsites in French Creek Horse Camp in Custer State Park increase to $31 per night.
  • Increase in some group lodging fees: Mina Lake and Shadehill to $205 a night; and Lake Thompson, Palisades, Sheps Canyon, and Newton Hills to $280 a night.
  • Fort Sisseton South Barracks rental will increase to $500.
  • Lewis and Clark catamaran dry slip summer storage will increase to $325.
  • The Angostura catamaran dry slip summer storage will increase to $175.

For the most up-to-date information about each state park, visit gfp.sd.gov.

Correction – Legion Lake Fire In Custer State Park Forces Closure of Highway 16A. UPDATE

View of the current fire in Custer State Park looking down from Mt. Coolidge. 8:53 AM – 11 Dec 2017 Photo: Custer County Emergency Management

 

December 11, 2017
10:00am

CUSTER, SD – Highway 16A in and out of Custer State Park will remain closed until further notice! Please stay clear unless you are a responding agency. The fire is currently burning on both sides of the road at badger Clark Road. Evacuations are in place!

December 11, 2017, 10:20 am – All major roads in and out of Custer State Park including Highway 87 and 16 A are being closed. Plan your routes accordingly and please stay away from the park!   Fire is estimated at 1000 acres.

 

Custer State Park to Host Festival of Trees To Celebrate Christmas Season

November 14, 2017

CUSTER, SD – Custer State Park is hosting a Festival of Trees event again this year to celebrate the Christmas season.  The Festival of Trees is an opportunity for local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals to display a tree at the new Custer State Park Visitor Center throughout the holiday season.  Participants will need to provide their own tree and decorations and are encouraged to decorate their tree in a creative way that promotes their business and services offered.

Trees can be set up beginning Friday, November 24 to December 15 between 9:30am and 3:00pm.  Each tree will have the chance to be voted “Favorite Tree” of the event with all trees on display for community and visitor viewing and voting from December 15 – January 1.  All participants are responsible for the removal of their tree the week of January 2-8.

Space is limited to approximately 20 trees and is being offered on a first-come, first served basis.  Interested parties must reserve a time to set up a tree by contacting Julie Brazell at 605-255-4515.  There is no fee to participate in the Custer State Park Festival of Trees or for the visitors to view the trees; however a park entrance license is required to enter the park.  Park entrance licenses can be purchased at the visitor center.

Custer State Park Visitor Center hours are 9:00am – 4:00pm every day.  The visitor center will be closed on November 23, December 25-26 and open limited hours on December 24.

Custer State Park to Host Festival of Trees

October 25, 2017

Custer, SD – Custer State Park is hosting a Festival of Trees event again this year to celebrate the Christmas season.  The Festival of Trees is an opportunity for local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals to display a tree at the new Custer State Park Visitor Center throughout the holiday season.  Participants will need to provide their own tree and decorations and are encouraged to decorate their tree in a creative way that promotes their business and services offered.

Trees can be set up beginning Friday, November 24 to December 15 between 9:30am and 3:00pm.  Each tree will have the chance to be voted “Favorite Tree” of the event with all trees on display for community and visitor viewing and voting from December 15 – January 1.  All participants are responsible for the removal of their tree the week of January 2-8.

Space is limited to approximately 20 trees and is being offered on a first-come, first served basis.  Interested parties can contact Julie Brazell at 605-255-4515 for further information, to register a tree, and to reserve a time for tree set up.  There is no fee to participate in the Custer State Park Festival of Trees or for the visitors to view the trees; however a park entrance license is required to enter the park.  Park entrance licenses can be purchased at the visitor center.

Custer State Park Visitor Center hours are 9:00am – 4:00pm every day.  The visitor center will be closed on November 23, December 25-26 and open limited hours on December 24.

Custer State Park Halloween Hike Presents – The Prairie Dog Is Missing!

The Custer State Park Halloween Hike will be held Friday and Saturday, Oct 27-28, 2017.

The 2-mile trail will be lit only by jack-o-lanterns and tiki torches as visitors hike their way from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center to the Game Lodge Campground, and then returning to the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center.

The prairie dog has gone missing at Custer State Park!  Come help solve the mystery and attend the annual Halloween Hike.  Each hike is led by a guide and will last approximately 60 minutes.  The jack-o-lanterns are donated by local businesses and carved by the Custer School students.  Actors and guides include Custer State Park staff and volunteers.

Hikes depart from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center every 15 minutes starting with the first hike at 5:30pm and the last hike at 8:00pm each night.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling (605) 255-4464.  There is no fee for the hike; however, a park entrance license is required and can be purchased at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center upon your arrival to the Halloween Hike.

2017 Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

2016 Buffalo Roundup. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

By Gov. Dennis Daugaard
September 15, 02017

On Friday morning, Sept. 29, a few dozen cowboys will put on their boots and saddle their horses. Custer State Park employees will arise before dawn. And thousands from across the state, country and world will gather, all to continue a 52-year tradition.

The Buffalo Roundup is an experience unlike any other. You can feel the ground shake as over 1,000 half-ton creatures stampede across the prairie. Watching the brave riders drive the beasts to their destination is quite incredible. Witnessing the buffalo’s power and speed from such a short distance creates a feeling of being back in the Old West.

At one time, there were about 60 million buffalo roaming North America, but that number fell to fewer than 2,000 in the early twentieth century. Although population levels are nowhere near the historical peak, South Dakota buffalo have made a comeback from near extinction, thanks in part to Custer State Park.

Riders will round-up a herd of 1,300 buffalo on Sept. 29, after which about four days are needed to work the herd. Volunteers will vaccinate and brand the calves, check the cows for pregnancy and identify 250 buffalo for November’s sale.

After the Friday morning Roundup, visitors can stay for lunch and watch the volunteers work the herd. There will be plenty of things to do for those who decide to stay for the weekend.  The Arts Festival will continue through Saturday, the exhibits at the newly renovated Peter Norbeck Education Center will be open, and Crazy Horse Memorial visitors will be permitted to hike to the arm of the mountain carving during an organized Volksmarch on Sunday.

The Roundup is something every South Dakotan should see at least once. People from all over the world come for this one-of-a-kind experience because there’s nothing like it anywhere else. Consider making this worthwhile journey. I hope to see you there!

Celebration of Cowboy Poet Badger Clark to Take Place in Custer State Park

August 16, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Cowboy poet Badger Clark will be celebrated in song and stories at special free events on September 2, 2017 in Custer State Park.

“This year marks three milestones in Clark’s life,” said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. “2017 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of his volume of poetry, ‘Grass Grown Trails.’ It’s the 80th anniversary of Clark’s being appointed South Dakota’s first poet laureate and the 60th anniversary of the cowboy poet’s death.”

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, oversees the reprinting and distribution of Clark’s work as well as other materials about Clark.

Clark was born on Jan. 1, 1883, in Albia, Iowa, but moved with his family to a homestead south of Plankinton when he was three months old. Clark turned four years of being a cowboy in Arizona into a career as one of America’s most successful cowboy poets. His first volume of poetry, “Sun and Saddle Leather,” was published in 1915. “Grass Grown Trails” was Clark’s second volume of poetry and was later included in the reprinting of “Sun and Saddle Leather.” Gov. Leslie Jensen named Clark the first poet laureate of South Dakota in 1937, a title he held until his death 20 years later.

Performers and presenters on Sept. 2 are Pegie Douglas and the Badger Sett Band, Rex Rideout, Greg Scott and Kenn Pierson.

The Badger Sett Band formed in 2012 to present the life and music of Clark. Douglas, the leader, has set Clark’s poems to music and discusses Clark’s life.

Rideout is a historical musician and entertainer. He has been studying the song and verse of the Old West for more than 30 years. He was the cowboy fiddler in the movie “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Scott is the editor of “Cowboy Poetry: Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark.” Scott is a fourth-generation Arizonian and a retired history teacher. He spent decades studying Clark’s life in Arizona Territory and beyond. As a scholar for the Arizona Humanities Council, his most popular program was about Clark. He presented programs about Clark in Arizona, other states and at the annual cowboy poetry and music gathering in Elko, Nev.

Pierson adapted the stage play “Mountain Thunder: A Ballad of Badger Clark” from the letters and poems of Clark while attending Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell as an undergraduate. Later, he was involved in completing the filming of South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s version of “Mountain Thunder” on site at The Badger Hole, Clark’s home near Legion Lake, following the death of his theater professor and friend Darryl F. Patten, who portrayed Clark on stage and screen. Pierson lives with his family in Los Angeles, where he teaches English and American literature at Rio Hondo College.

On Sept. 2, all the presenters will take turns sharing stories about Clark or playing music beginning at 10 a.m. MDT at The Badger Hole.

At 3:30 p.m. MDT, there will be a viewing of “Mountain Thunder: A Ballad of Badger Clark” at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. Pierson will discuss the movie.

The special events will conclude at 7 p.m. MDT with a program at the Tatanka Theatre at the Game Lodge Campground that will be mostly music. The Badger Sett band will be performing some of Clark’s poems set to music from “Grass Grown Trails” along with the other presenters sharing stories about Clark.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visitwww.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.