State Game Lodge, Custer State Park
South Dakota

State Game Lodge
State Game Lodge, Custer State Park, South Dakota.

July 24, 2006

by Jess Stryker

Click on any photo for a larger image. Hold mouse pointer over photos for descriptions.

We were driving through Custer State Park in South Dakota when I noticed the architecture of this lodge and was intrigued by it. We turned around and went back for a closer look. We didn't have a reservation, however the staff was gracious and allowed us to look around and take some pictures. I wish I had known about it before our trip as I would have liked to have stayed here!

The lodge was built between 1919-1922 by Cecil C. (C.C.) Gideon. It served as the summer white house for Calvin Coolidge in 1927 and President Dwight D. Eisenhower also was a guest in 1953. In addition to the main lodge building there are modern motel wings and cabins. Gideon designed and built many local structures in the Black Hills, including the famous pig-tail bridges on Iron Mountain Road. For photos and a video of Iron Mountain Road, see my Mt. Rushmore page: click here.

State Game Lodge
View from the street. The more modern style motel wings were added later. (They need an irrigation system that doesn't involve dragging around hoses!)


State Game Lodge
Front view with flagpole.


State Game Lodge
Front entry staircase stonework detail.


State Game Lodge
National Register of Historic Places plague and building description which states:

"The State Game Lodge was built by
CECIL C. GIDEON, Contractor-Builder in
A.R. Van Dyck - Architect
Monroe Nystrom - Stonemason
All three were from the Minneapolis area. Gideon
and his wife Elma Mary were the genial hosts with
their "Western Hospitality" for 27 years, including
the Presidential visit of the Coolidges. Gideon
was chosen personal guide and companion for the
President while he was here."


State Game Lodge
Main staircase, viewed from the main door to the lodge. The registration desk is to the right.
Down the hall directly ahead is the dining room and beyond the dining room.
If you walk through the dining room you come to another stairway that leads down to the gift shop.
Immediately to the left of where this photo was taken is the bar and lounge.
To the right is the main public room.


State Game Lodge
The main public room with fireplace. This photo was taken looking to the right just inside the front door.


State Game Lodge
Fireplace rockwork in the bar.


State Game Lodge
This lounge area appears to me to be a later addition, although the staff wasn't able to confirm that for me.


State Game Lodge
Detail of rock wall between the bar and lounge.


State Game Lodge
The Pheasant Dining Room still serves "game" dishes as well as more traditional fare.


State Game Lodge
Detail of one of the light fixtures in the dining room.


State Game Lodge
The original telephone switchboard is on display outside the door to the gift shop.


State Game Lodge
Upstairs hallway and rooms. Stairs are to the left.


State Game Lodge
Upstairs hallway looking the opposite direction of the photo above. Stairs are to the right next to Julie.


The lodge has a third floor with guest rooms, however it is not currently open to the public due to non-compliance with emergency exit requirements. The State has proposed retrofits to the lodge will provide sufficient emergency exits to allow the third floor to be reopened in the future.

Note: Our visit to the State Game Lodge was unplanned and way too brief. I wish we had more time to explore it and get more details and photos, similar to what I have done for some of the other lodges on this website. I realize that some of the information or descriptions above may not be totally accurate. Please, if you have additional information or corrections, send me an email with the information. Thank you very much!

For reservations or more information on booking a room at the State Game Lodge, call 888-875-0001, or see the Custer State Park Resort website at


Historic Hotels & Lodges
All text and images by Jess Stryker, unless noted. Copyright © Jess Stryker, 2006-2011. Last updated June 30, 2011. All rights reserved.