Custer State Park kicks-off open house weekend

The number of visitors at attractions across the state is up compared to last year, according to the South Dakota Tourism Department. Leaders say that’s because Missouri River flooding put a damper on travel plans last year.

But Custer State Park is hoping free fishing and free entrance this weekend will attract early summer tourists. All weekend long the park has been offering free entrance, fishing and many other family activities.

The open house weekend gives people a taste of what the park has to offer with hopes they’ll return during the summer. Craig Pugsley, the park’s visitor services coordinator, is optimistic.

“This year numbers are significantly up for reservations.” Pugsley said.

He says the numbers have come in strong since the beginning of the year. Visitor numbers in January 2012 surpassed January 2011. And resorts reservations have been strong so far.

Pugsley says the weather has a lot to do with the positive trend.

“Last year we had snow and quite a little bit of moisture this year. But it’s cool, the sun’s out and that always attracts people. So numbers are good this year” Pugsley said.

Still, Pugsley says the park will be in even better shape if it can attract 1.8 million visitors and 45,000 camping units. And with the large number of visitors that flocked to the open house weekend Pugsley says he’s sure visitor numbers will soar.

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