There’s nothing like an expert to make any experience more rewarding. From May to September, Custer State Park offers several ranger programs for visitors. Programs include a guided tour through the Wildlife Loop (Memorial Day–mid-Aug. daily 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.). On this tour, visitors will create a car caravan, led by one of the park naturalists, who will speak at various locations along the route.
The gold panning demonstrations (Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, Memorial Day–Labor Day 1 p.m.) include a talk about the gold rush of the 1870s and provide participants with the opportunity to try panning for gold in one of the park’s creeks.
Guided nature walks (June–mid-Aug. daily) are held throughout the day and provide visitors with information about the park’s geology, history, birds, and wildflowers.
Park naturalists also provide hands-on tips on trout fishing in the Black Hills through the Hook ’Em & Cook ’Em fishing program (June–Aug. Mon. and Fri. 9 a.m.). The number of participants in the fishing program is limited and space and equipment are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
The living history program (June–mid-Aug. Sat.–Mon. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.) is a theatrical experience as park interpreters, garbed in period clothing, re-enact life on the frontier.
Evening programs are presented by naturalists at each of the four campgrounds in the park. Topics vary but generally include information about the wildlife, plants, astronomy, park history or outdoor recreation activities in the park. Schedules are available at the two visitors centers in the park.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition