Custer State Park

Custer State Park
Location: Custer, South Dakota
Length of visit: full day to multiple days
Major draws: Wildlife, scenic views, campgrounds
Strenuosity: 0 to 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per vehicle or free during Open House weekend
Additional considerations: Needles Highway scenic byway closed in winter
Description: The weekend before Memorial Day each year, the park hosts an open house with free events like the pancake breakfast, raptor center presentations, hay rides, and Buffalo Chip Flip. No wonder this is our favorite State Park in the U.S.

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Location: Montana-North Dakota border
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Reconstructed fort, museum, cannons
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: On border of Mountain and Central Time Zones
Description: Founded in 1828 near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers to serve as a trading post for beaver pelts and other goods. When silk hats became more fashionable it was dismantled in 1867.