Western Adventure: Black Hills- State Game Lodge

Stepping into Custer State Park’s famed State Game Lodge is checking into the height of rustic luxury. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022, The lodge was built between 1919-1922 by famed architect Cecil C. (CC) Gideon, in the western slick syle. The lodge embodies the western spirit with a large stone porch, welcoming terrace and intricate details. You can book reservations here.

The State Game Lodge is steeped in history. President Coolidge stayed at the lodge in the summer of 1927. Coolidge only planned to stay three weeks in South Dakota, but fell in love with the land and extended his stay at the State Game Lodge to three months.

During this time, Coolidge was courted to approve funding for Mt. Rushmore and increase South Dakota tourism. To learn more about the history of Coolidge’s ‘Summer White House’ click here. President Eisenhower visited in 1953…This is truly the ‘lodge of the Presidents.’

Coolidge’s room at the Game Lodge

The lodge embodies a western lodge feel, but without sparing resort luxury.

The welcoming lobby has a stately fireplace and comfortable seating – ideal to relax with a cocktail and a good book.

The staff at the State Game Lodge was wonderful – extremely welcoming and accommodating given my delays with checking in.

“Thank you for choosing the State Game Lodge, your room will be on the second floor and accessible via the back parking lot…”

All of the rooms at the State Game Lodge are cozy, clean and modern. I loved the western decor and comfort of my renovated lodge room.

After unloading my car and getting settled into my room, I headed to the State Game Lodge restaurant.

Located in the heart of the main lodge, the restaurant boasts a diverse menu of gourmet western dishes and family favorities.

Whether you plan to stay in the Game Lodge or are just passing through I definitely recommend treating yourself to a meal at the Game Lodge. The well appointed dining room is decorated with historic park photos. It is an inviting space to enjoy a delicious meal with friends.

Famished after traveling, I was ready to enjoy a hearty Custer meal. I started with a glass of Riesling and Cranberry Pecan Spinanch salad with pear, dried cranberries, spicy pecans, red onions and gorgonzola crumble.

While the State Game Lodge dinner menu features a variety of local game and speciality dishes…I decided to stick with their popular bacon cheeseburger (no bun) with sweet potato fries.

The service was amazing – the waitstaff was attentive and knew the menu inside and out.

This was the perfect meal to celebrate my first night in Custer!

After dinner, I enjoyed a twenty minute walk on the nearby Creekside Trail. This path meanders alongside the rambling Grace Coolidge Creek and offers beautiful views of ponderosa pine and the lodge grounds.

I capped off my evening in my cozy lodge room, enjoying a good book and taking time to journal.

I fell asleep by eleven p.m. Tomorrow will be a jam packed day of exploration and I needed a good nights sleep.

Next up: We’ll explore Custer’s wonders from the Needles Highway to Iron Mountain Road and beyond


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