A letter to our guests regarding the Sylvan Lake Lodge fire. 

Our Team

Buffalo Close to a car

But that’s another story

Ask us what we love about Custer Resorts and you’ll get a number of different responses. Every day we are touched by the humble beauty of the park, the people we meet, and the stories they share with us. So, here are a few of our favorite memories to inspire you on your journey.

Josh SchmaltzJosh Schmaltz
President & CEO, U.S. Hotel & Resort Management

Josh is a 2003 graduate from North Dakota State University, Fargo, where he earned a Bachelor's in Restaurant & Hotel Management with a minor in Business. He has been with U.S. Hotel & Resort Management for nearly the entirety of his professional career, most recently as Regional Director, overseeing operations at Grand Lake Lodge Colorado; Al's Oasis; Arrowwood Resort at Cedar Shore; Ramkota Hotel, Casper, Wyoming; The Lodge at Deadwood; Best Western Ramkota Rapid City; and our very own Custer State Parks Resorts. 

Favorite Park Memory?
"My time spent as GM here in the Park. The team you see here is an upstanding group of dedicated professionals that I have had the pleasure of working side-by-side with for many years. It is my sincere hope that you, too, are able to make your memories at each of our heartwarmingly-unique Lodges during your stay. Dine at the Game Lodge and catch the herd bounding through. Kick your heels off and breathe in the fresh canyon air at our Chuckwagon Cookout. Experience Sylvan's unrivaled views, and let your kids delight in the sand between their toes at Legion. Welcome to my family's second home. May you get caught in many buffalo jams.” 

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"Game Lodge Buffalo Tenderloin is tough to beat."

Ryan Flick Ryan Flick
Director of Operations

A Hill City native, Ryan is a 2000 graduate from Black Hills State University with a BS in Psychology. After meeting his beautiful wife, he spent 15 years operating campground resorts both in Florida and in the Black Hills before joining the U.S. Hotel & Resort team as GM of the Best Western Ramkota, Rapid City. But two years within city limits was plenty; the buffalo soon called him out here to the Park, where he graciously welcomed back the fresh air and peaceful pines. 

Favorite Park Memory?
"My favorite part is making new ones each day out here. We are fortunate to be a part of such a partnership with SDGF&P where we can offer a tremendous product in a setting that rivals the National Parks. It's incredible.” 

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I always bring my wife and four girls out to our Easter and Mother's Day Brunches. The kids love running around on the Front Lawn and finishing the afternoon with a Buffalo Safari Tour."  

Gina KonechneGina Konechne
Director of Sales & Marketing

With over 17 years of professional experience in destination resort Sales & Marketing, Gina has been with the Park since 2010. A South Dakota native, she double-majored for a Bachelor's in both English and Communication Studies before she was hired on by one of Texas’s top-rated championship golf & spa resorts. Her five years there took her though Event Management, Asst. Director of Membership, and Group Sales; but South Dakota remained the only place she wanted to raise a family. She moved to the Black Hills at the turn of the century to join the U.S. Hotel & Resort team in the Park, and she has been delighted by buffalo outside her window ever since. Gina is also a Regional Director of Sales for Regency Hotel Management. 

Favorite Park Memory?
"I love how the Park experiences never get old because I can tailor it all to my current mood. I will drive home after a long day, and I still want to grab the kids and turn right back around to work so that we can soak in dinner with an evening sunset at Legoin's Dockside Grill; a scenic drive on Needles Highway; or a lively Chuckwagon Cookout for some good old-fashioned and unplugged fun. Custer State Park is everything we need when we don't even know we need it. And we get to call it home!”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
“The Game Lodge offers hosted Wine Dinners each October. I love treating myself to them."

Susie TimmSusie Timm
Reservations & Tour Group Manager

A familiar and friendly face to many of our returning guests, Susie has been with Custer State Park Resort for the majority of her professional career. She has management experience in nearly every department, from Housekeeping to Catering to Lodge Management. She was selected to direct the Reservations team since its inception and is a vital part of the Park’s everyday success. Call our Reservations line and you will likely speak with Susie!

Favorite Park Memory?
“I always enjoy meeting all of the new visitors that come to see us. It makes each day unique and exciting.”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I enjoy a lighter fare, so I love how each Lodge offers unique salad options. A good salad is always hard to find!”

Chad EganTeresa Cortney
GM, Blue Bell Lodge

With over 20 years of hospitality experience, Teresa returns to the Park as a General Manager for the 2018 season. She first started with us at Legion Lake Lodge, where she quickly moved up to become the lodge Manager, and then took a few years off to spend time with her beautiful grandchildren. She is thrilled to be back home in CSP, and lives and breathes Blue Bell, customer service, and buffalo!

Favorite Park Memory?
"Living in the Park and waking up to this gorgeous place every day...peaceful mornings with coffee on the patio couldn't be better!"

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I start with a Buffalo Brisket Quesadilla, and order from our Cattle Drive Burger Menu that lets you mix-and-match your protein selection and your toppings. The Triple Mac 'n Cheese is tough to beat, too!"

Chris KellerKylie Tuggle
HR Director

Kylie graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2017, earning a Bachelor’s in Communications with a minor in Marketing. She’s always had an eye for adventure and traveling to new places. In 2016, between college semesters, she got her start at CSPR working as a wrangler at Blue Bell Stables. While her love for horses and nature brought her to South Dakota, working in Custer State Park sealed the deal. Not to mention, that she fell in love along the way and was married at the State Game Lodge Event Barn. Kylie took on responsibilities as the Stables Office Manager and Stables Assistant Manager before moving on to the HR Director position. In her spare time, she is still found helping at the stables and with the horses.

Favorite Park Memory?
"
It's hard to nail down just one favorite memory. Some of my most distinct are helping guests with limitations ride a horse for their first time. They get to experience something they never thought possible. It lights up their whole world and I get to be a part of that moment."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"To tell you the truth, before I went gluten-free, I loved the chocolate chip chuckwagon cookies! For a lighter fare, I do also enjoy Blue Bell’s Belldorf Salad."

Jason KrulishJason Krulish
GM, Legion Lake Lodge

Jason started in Custer State Park back in 1992, as a young high school grad, in housekeeping at Legion Lake Resort and worked his way up the ladder. He took a few years off and persuaded a couple degrees at SDSU, moved to Minnesota, and then returned to State Game lodge in 2015; and Legion again for 2021.

Favorite Park Memory?
"While hiking through a field on the wild life loop after dusk, I stirred up the grass and had hundreds of lightning bugs glowing all around me."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"Eating Buffalo Ravioli and sipping on a limoncello on the front Porch of the Game Lodge. It is the Bomb!"

Nick ReinkeNickolas Reinke
GM, Sylvan Lake Lodge

Born in Ortonville, MN, Nick moved to Fargo to attend NDSU and ended up there for 25 years. His career with the company began in 2009 with Accounting/Front Office Management with The Lodge at Deadwood. In 2016, he was hired as the Assistant Manager of the Ramkota Hotel in Pierre before he moved here to head up our seasonal hiring program for 5 years, and now heads up operations for Sylvan Lake Lodge.  

Favorite Park Memory?
“I love the Black Hills! All of my favorite memories involve being somewhere in the Hills and the Park with my kids and grandchildren."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"If I can be on the Veranda at Sylvan, I'll take absolutely anything. It's so scenic there."

Eric RobinsonEric Robinson
Director of Retail Operations/Buyer

With over 30 years of management & purchasing experience in destination resort retail, Eric joined the Custer State Park Resort team in 2019. The majority of his professional career was spent with the resorts at Yellowstone National Park before being recruited for national sales & retail consulting in 2017. It wasn't long, though, before the opportunity with Custer State Park Resort came along. Bringing his three plus decades of experience with him, he know he could have an immediate and positive impact to the retail operations at CSP. Having had an eye on the Black Hills for some time, he knew instantly that our 71,000-acre wildlife preserve would be a great place to call home. 

Favorite Park Memory?
"Being stuck in a bison jam while trying to get from one location to another in the park. And though sometimes frustrating, I think about the traffic jams many people have to deal with every day and how very fortunate I really am to get to work in such an amazing place.”

Favorite Thing on the Menu? 
"A personal size pizza from the Coolidge store washed down with a local craft brew from their beer cooler. It’s the perfect way to close an evening in the Park when you're on the go."

Mike Madsen HeadshotSarah Pethick
Executive Chef, State Game Lodge 

Born and raised on a farm in New Mexico, surrounded by horses, a big family, and strong Native American and Hispanic influences, Sarah discovered Custer State Park Resort in 2016 for her internship while attending Auguste Escoffier. After earning her diploma in Culinary Arts with an emphasis on farm-to-table and sustainable practices, she returned to the Park the following summer when she was offered the head chef position at Blue Bell Lodge. She quickly caught Management's eye again, and at season's end, she was promoted to a full-time head chef position for our sister property at Minerva's, Rapid City. After two years in Rapid, 2020 brought a move back home with family, where she accpeted the position as head chef for two restaurants owned by the largest winery in NM...but the buffalo called her back again by the following year. Stop by the State Game Lodge to experience Sarah's culinary skills and congratulate her on joining our full-time management team for 2022! 

Favorite Park Memory?
“My favorite memories in the park revolve around exploring outside. Hiking, climbing, and fishing in the summer, shed hunting and frozen lake cookouts in the winter, and of course there's nothing better than getting to do all these things with the amazing community of friends that the Black Hills has brought together for me!"

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"While I love so many things on all the menus at the lodges, Buffalo Ravioli is probably my favorite go-to. I fell in love with it my first season up here and it still never gets old."

Carly Jinks HeadshotCarly Jinks
Sales & Catering Manager

With over 10 years in the hospitality industry, Carly moved to South Dakota in 2019 from Napa, California. Her career on the West coast was with Meritage Resort & Spa, where Cary started as an intern and was promoted internally numerous times before taking over as the Director of Events in 2018. She and her husband and two young sons moved to Custer in 2019 and she quickly found her home among the buffalo with Custer State Park Resort. In her spare time, Carly enjoys spending time with her family, camping and hunting.

Favorite Park Memory?
“Driving through the park every day and seeing the wildlife. I also love seeing the trees after a new snow."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"So hard to chose; but the Cranberry Spinach Salad is delightful."

Gina Isaacson Headshot Gina Isaacson
Sales & Catering Manager 

Originally from Menahga, MN, Gina's CSP story starts back in 2014 when she was selected by Blue Bell Lodge for her college internship while attending Le Cordon Bleu. After graduation, she returned to the Park for a few seasons as a cook before being snatched for a full-time Banquet & Catering Manager position with one of U.S. Hotel's partner companies in Pierre, SD. Soon, though, the Park called her back home, and she returned for two consecutive summers to manage the Coolidge General Store. Gina's story is one that proves how dedication to a seasonal property like Custer State Park can open doors to a lifelong career. We proudly welcome Gina to our full-time management team for 2022!

Favorite Park Memory?
"I live in the Park, so I get to make new ones all day, every day! I love taking my dog Remi out for daily hikes and together exploring new secret spots, running into wildlife, and soaking in the surroundings."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"The rabbit & rattlesnake sausage featured at both State Game Lodge and Blue Bell Lodge is my favorite go-to when sharing a local favorite with family and friends."