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Review: Shady Rest Motel in Custer, South Dakota

By October 19, 2015October 18th, 2017One Comment

The inside of the cabins at Shady Rest Motel in Custer, South Dakota.Located just a few blocks from downtown Custer, the Shady Rest Motel is the place to stay in the Black Hills. Custer itself is an exciting town full of history and fun activities for families, but it’s also close to many of the nearby attractions, including Keystone and Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Hill City and Custer State Park.

Shady Rest is a family-run establishment so they truly understand the needs of family travelers. The owner’s children help out around the property, cleaning cabins after guests check out and removing linens for washing. They were more than happy to chat with us and loved our little dog—the added family element definitely made for an exciting stay.

Sweet Serenity

The motel, which actually consists of 12 cabins and a hunting lodge, is close to the downtown area yet in a very serene environment. Nestled among tall trees on a quiet hillside, staying at Shady Rest is extremely relaxing. As the sun sets, the sky turns shades of purple and fills with colorful cotton candy clouds. When nighttime arrives, the bright stars scatter across the same sky and the moon takes shelter behind the tree trunks. The rocks on the property contain mica so they sparkle beneath your feet, something that will really thrill little ones.

Comfy Cozy Cabins

Pulling up to the property, the cheery yellow cabins are the first thing you’ll notice. Right next to the main office, the smallest cabins sit in a row, their red doors and window frames standing out against the yellow paint. Further back behind the front row, there are some larger cabins as well. Although each is different, the insides are wooden masterpieces. The timber walls and ceilings create an authentic atmosphere that really allows you to feel comfortable and at home in the quiet forested hills of South Dakota. Even the staircase that led to the cutest upstairs room (perfect for little ones) was made of beautifully colored pine.

The view from the cabin deck at Shady Rest Motel in Custer, South Dakota.Each cabin gives you access to a fridge, ranging from small to full-sized, and a way to cook meals, including a portable burner, a two-burner stove or a four-burner stove. The kitchen was well stocked with dishes, glasses, utensils, pots and pans as well as a microwave, a coffee pot and a toaster. Every cabin also has a private bathroom with a shower.

Shady Rest has quite a few added amenities that are pretty uncommon at rental cabins. Children especially will love the aboveground hot tub sitting on the deck of a cabin near the office. On cold nights, it’s a great way to keep warm. The in-room towels are also available for use at the hot tub.

Enjoy the sunset, the stars or the early-morning birdcalls from your cabin’s covered porch or deck. Most of the smaller cabins have porch swings perfect for chatting and delighting in the fresh air.

The cabins hold between two and eight people so there are plenty of options for families of different sizes. Many have rollaway beds or sofa sleepers, but they are remarkably comfortable. There is also a hunting lodge that sleeps 10—complete with a family room!

A Special Touch

The owner, Ann, is incredibly friendly and her family and staff are all very eager to make conversation, help out with anything you need and ensure that you are truly having an enjoyable stay. She is quick to offer suggestions of places to eat and play not just in Custer but also throughout the nearby area. The friendly chats and ideas for exploration gave it a unique air.

The journal at the Shady Rest Motel in Custer, South Dakota.

Aside from the wonderful service, Shady Rest had another interesting aspect that added an extra special touch. Our cabin contained a journal where guests could write a message about their stay and it was filled with passages from families and children who had explored the area. It’s a great way to end your stay—discuss as a family what you’d like to leave behind for others to read after you soak up the words of those who stayed there before you. Kids will love retelling their experiences and reading about the hiking, horseback riding trips and scenic drives other kids have gone on.


Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit

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