Top three reasons to rock climb in Custer State Park
A playground of unparalleled face climbing on ever-narrowing spires
World class destination known for climbing and absolute beauty of the place
Home to a climbing area like no other — the Needles
Custer State Park is famous for its bison herds, wildlife, historic sites, and beautiful scenery — it is one of the world’s top 10 Wildlife Destinations! However, the granite peaks and spell binding towers and spires make this park a world-class rock climbing destination as well. With a stunning array of climbing routes spanning from 5.3 to an amazing 5.13, Custer has something for everyone. The area is steeped in rich history dating back to 1936! In the 1960’s climbers such as Henry Barber, John Gill and Royal Robins put up routes that still amaze climbers today with their high “pucker factor”. Join your expert local guides and discover the beauty of the area and why so many climbers visit Custer every year!
Rapid City, SD, is about 40 minutes away
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your day
Half-Day of Rock Climbing With a Group
Get out of your comfort zone, step into the great outdoors, and do something you never imagined you could! On this four-hour introductory group course you will take a short 10 minute hike to the climbing spot where you will enjoy world-class rock climbing! Learn the very basics of rock climbing such as how to move effectively on the rocks, tying into the rope, and belaying a partner on top rope. Most of the strength you use comes from proper movement. You don’t have to be able to do a single pull up to have fun on the rocks! This course is a group course, so you may be joining other climbers as well. Go out with your family and friends — kids as young as 5 can join!
6-Hour Rock Climbing Adventure With a Private Guide
Take your climbing to the next level with a little help from your local expert guide! This six-hour adventure is private and customized according to your goals and wishes! As the guide will tailor the day to your abilities, it is ideal for families with kids, beginners and skilled rock climbers alike. Whether you want to climb as many summits as possible during your day or focus on hard skills, your guide will make that happen. Learn anything from the basics to advanced skills such as building anchors, placing trad gear, and becoming a more technical rock climber. Put your new skills to the test in a safe and fun environment!
A Customized Full-Day of Rock Climbing With a Guide
If you choose an eight-hour course, you will get a private day with your guide and have the opportunity to climb some of the more exciting and larger formations in our area, such as Vertigo or the Cathedral Spires ! Let your expert guide create a day filled with adventure and tailored to your experience, skill level, and desired outcomes. Travel to one of several different climbing locations located in Custer State Park and hone your technical skills, such as lead climbing or self/partner rescue!
Meet your guide
Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service
We loved our day with Sylvan Rocks! This is a must-do in the Black Hills! We had 2 adults and our 2 kids, age 7 & 8. We had all climbed at a couple indoor gyms before. That experience wasn’t necessary but this was the perfect next step. Brandon was super patient and encouraging, and made us feel really safe. My husband and kids are athletic, but I am not and my son gets nervous trying new things. I couldn’t believe the wall we climbed! In our 4 hours, we each tried several different climbs plus more for the kids, in a spectacularly beautiful setting. Long sleeves and durable pants recommended or you will get scraped up a bit. The awesome grippy shoes make you feel like spiderman! It was definitely a highlight of our trip and left us wanting to go again! (also felt safe with Covid concerns – staff wore masks when inside with us and the rest of the time we were in open air with plenty of space)
Our first “outdoor” climbing adventure – Custer State Park in the Black Hills. Brandon matched us to routes that were challenging but not so difficult we couldn’t finish. His knowledge of the sport and the area are second to none. We summited 4 routes – and I was even able to “try” a 5th route graded at 5.11 a/b that was awesome. We are planning on returning next summer – hopefully with a few friends from our indoor gym. Haven and I recommend Sylvan Rocks without question!
Our climbing outing with Sylvan Rocks was unforgettable! My husband and I did an 8-hour guided tour with Brandon–who was VERY knowledgeable. He designed the day specifically for us: bringing us to routes that fit our needs and ability levels. We climbed a variety of routes that ranged in difficulty, including a multi-pitch climb. It was clear Brandon took safety seriously, so we felt comfortable the entire time. What a wonderful way to see the Black Hills! For context, we had some experience climbing in a gym before our trip and typically climb 5.9-5.10 routes. The climbing in the Black Hills was challenging and fun!
I can’t say enough good things about Jeff and Brandon and the awesome experience I had climbing in Custer State Park! I learned so many cool new skills, achieved new goals, had great conversation, and felt super safe the whole time. Jeff also went out of his way to spend a couple additional hours with me to talk through all the cool things to do in Custer during my visit. Not to mention, he and Brandon have inspired me to pursue van life part-time, and they have been providing me with helpful tips throughout my van search. Who would have thought so much could be achieved in one day? I highly recommend a visit to climb with them!
Things to know
Covid measures in Custer State Park, South Dakota
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Custer State Park, South Dakota, please refer to the official COVID-19 updates by the U.S. Government for South Dakota.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get in this adventure:
- Experienced rock-climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- 4, 6 or 8 hours of rock climbing in Custer State Park
- All technical climbing gear
What’s not included:
- Food and snacks
How fit do I need to be?
If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus but far from necessary. Rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength. To ensure you have a fun retreat, your guide will choose routes that best suit your skill and fitness level.
What if I’ve never climbed before?
Custer State Park has plenty of options for beginner climbers. Whether you’ve never climbed before or are transitioning from the gym to outdoor climbing, your guide will customize the day to suit your skill level and objectives. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the rocks, and most importantly, have fun!
For intermediate to advanced climbers, Custer State Park has loads of routes to spend the day on. Your guide will discuss your objectives and customize the day to your goals. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while climbing the classic routes or best hidden gems the area has to offer.
What about required equipment?
All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:
- Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)
- Belay device
- Chalk bag
- Harness with a locking carabiner
- Rock shoes
Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:
- Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
- Water bottle
- Toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
- Camera — optional
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- For the group half-day adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 6:1 and cost is per person. The cost does not decrease as the group grows.
- For the private adventures, the max client to guide ratio is 3:1 and cost is per person. Costs per person decrease as the group grows, making it a perfect opportunity to go climbing with your friends and family.
If you are traveling with a bigger group, let us know and we will make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors as young as 5 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Custer State Park, most people fly to Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), which is 40 minutes away. You can rent a car or use one of the local shuttle companies to get to the Custer State Park.
All classes meet at 7:45 am at the South Dakota Outdoor Shop in Custer, South Dakota. Afternoon courses may be offered subject to guide availability and weather. From there, you’ll head to the climbing location and begin your day of adventure!