5 Unique Western Experiences to Try in the Custer, SD Area
Written by Dolsee Davenport
August 24, 2020

Established in 1875, the Black Hills Gold Rush got its start just one mile from the current city of Custer, SD in French Creek.  The discovery brought nearly 10,000 prospectors and their families to the area and launched the city.  Considered the oldest town in the Black Hills, Custer is filled with stories of the past.  The southern Black Hills has an abundance of western experiences that will make you feel like a pioneer or explorer, so be sure to try these 5 unique experiences while you’re in the area!

Climb Aboard the 1880 Train
See the Black Hills of South Dakota by vintage steam train! This historical steam train experience is a two-hour, narrated 20-mile round trip between Hill City and Keystone. Passengers view vistas of Harney Peak, mining encampments and participate in good old-fashioned fun. Trains follow the original route of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad laid down in the late 1880s to service the mines and mills between Hill City and Keystone. The Black Hills Central Railroad is the oldest continuously operating tour railroad in the nation and operates three steam and two diesel engines throughout the season. One of our steam engines is close to 100 years old!

Discover the 1881 Courthouse Museum
Explores the history of the Black Hills and Dakota Territory from 1874 to present day.  The Custer County Courthouse building was built in 1880 and opened in January 1881 in Custer City, Custer County, Dakota Territory, eight years before South Dakota became a state.  This building was the hub of Custer County development from 1881 to 1974, serving not only as a center for government, but also in early years as a meeting place for church services, socials and community activities.  Justice was dispensed from this building for 92 years until it was given to the Custer County Historical Society in 1973.  The 1881 Custer County Courthouse Museum was opened in 1976 and is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the city, county, and surrounding area.

Eat at a Chuckwagon Dinner

Blue Bell Hayride Chuck Wagon Cookout
Take an old-fashioned hayride in Custer State Park. Sing along to classic country and folk music as you travel through the back roads of the park to a quiet meadow where you’ll be treated to a chuck wagon feast and entertainment.  Each paying guest gets a souvenir cowboy hat and bandanna to help you play the part.

Circle B Chuckwagon Cowboy Dinner Show (closed for 2020 but will be back in 2021)
A visit to the Circle B Chuckwagon is like stepping back in time.  For supper, choose roast beef or BBQ chicken with all the cowboy fixins! After supper, the Circle B Cowboys entertain their guests with old-time western music and ranch humor.
Come early for Wax Bullet Pistol Shooting, Gem Panning, Model Calf Roping and other fun activities for families.

Explore Four Mile Old West Town
Step back in time to yesterday and experience the old west as it really was.  The Four Mile Old West Town will make you think you have left the 21st Century for circa 1870s SoDak, thanks to the old-time architecture and "residents" in authentic attire.  There are 50 explorable buildings that range from churches to homes and stores.

Ride the Trails

Blue Bell Stables & Trail Rides
Saddle up and hit the trail for horseback adventure. Choose from 1 to 2-hour trails, half-day or all-day rides.  The guided horseback rides depart from Blue Bell Lodge and are one of the most peaceful, scenic ways to experience the park's trails. All ages are welcome, with pony rides at the stables available for the youngsters.

Rockin’ R Rides
Capture the spirit of the Old West with horseback adventures from Rockin’ R Rides. They specialize in small groups with friendly, knowledgeable guides and a variety of rides ranging from 1 hour, 1½ hour, 2 hours and half-day.  Based out of Heritage Village just one mile south of Crazy Horse Memorial.



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