Black Hills, South Dakota

Crag Heaven

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota    Photo: Photo by Michele Falzone/Alamy

The Black Hills are best known for Mount Rushmore, where a parking garage blocks the roadside view of the presidents' faces. This is a good thing: while tourists jostle for parking, Custer State Park's world-class climbing—dozens of 5.3 to 5.10-plus routes—is up for grabs. If you're a rookie, hire a guide from Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service, then camp at Custer's French Creek Natural Area. If you have climbing gear and know how to use it, crash at the park's Sylvan Lake Lodge and indulge in wild buffalo tenderloin in the dining room.

NEAREST AIRPORT: Rapid City, one hour.
EXPENSE REPORT: Park entrance fee (605-223-7660): $15. Two nights camping ( $48.50. Camp provisions: $70. One day of guided climbing for two ( $350. Total: $483.50. Or self-guided with buffalo dinner and one night at the Sylvan Lake Lodge ($250; $359.25

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