Custer UTV Rentals has managed to cruise up to Hill City and offer tourists something to do during the day. The business is located by the Heart of the Hills Car Wash. The owners, Tim Zobel and Amber Stover, hope to make Hill City their permanent location.
The business has been operating in Custer for five years. Tim Zobel, of Custer, said he used to rent cars and then switched to ATVs and UTVs out of public demand.
He said there have been a lot of locals that have stopped by and people have been very supportive of the move.
“It’s been going great. I’m very happy with Hill City,” Zobel said.
“We’re both pretty excited about it and very much looking forward to it.”
Stover said they have been impressed by the community interest and everybody being so welcoming.
The company rents side-by-sides, or UTVs. They have two-seaters, four-seaters and six-seaters. The UTVs can be ridden for either four hours or eight hours. Asked which is most common, Zobel said it all depends on the visitor’s schedule. He estimates that it is about 50/50 but has never tracked which option is more popular.
Zobel said they were looking to expand as they are still doing a few rentals in Custer.
“We are actually hoping for this to be a more permanent location,” Zobel said.
He mentioned that Hill City is a perfect location. As Hill City is the Heart of the Hills, it is in the middle of everything that ATVers are looking for.
Either Stover or Zobel will be at the location every day as they don’t have any employees.
“We do a lot of running around,” Zobel said.
“We would like to get to a point where we have to hire some employees.”
The business will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. They plan to be open until October but Zobel said he’ll have to see what the weather is like.
On June 7, there was only one UTV sitting by the check-out area.
Custer UTV rentals has 15 UTVs to rent. Eight are in Hill City and seven are in Custer.
When people rent the UTVs there is a little bit of paperwork and they go over a map on a GPS with the customer. The maps are provided by the U.S. Forest Service and are Avenza maps.
The GPS helps make sure people keep track of where they are.
“Within the trails systems there are caves, there are old mining pits out there. We send a lot of people out by Pactola Lake and the Bullock Lookout,” Zobel said.
“There are some really awesome things to go look at and see.”
Zobel said he has a pretty good relationship with the Forest Service.
“They give us a set of guidelines and we follow those guidelines literally to a T,” Zobel said.
He has found the Forest Service to be great and fairly easy to work with.
Black Hills National Forest Motorized Trail System offers over 3,600 miles of roads and over 600 miles of trails for ATVs, UTVs and other off-road vehicles. In recent years the old trails have been reopening. Some trails for ATVs and UTVs are really well-marked.
Zobel said they get a lot of positive feedback.
“People are surprised at what they see,” Zobel said.
He said for many people it is the highlight of their vacation. He added that children are often the ones who like it the most.
Stover tells people that it is going to give them a different perspective of the area.
“It really shows you the beauty of the Hills versus parking lots and driving in fields,” Stover said.
In Custer, the customers are usually tourists. Zobel said they are in the area for a few days. He tells people that when they are out on the trails they are going to see stuff that they can’t see on the highway.
Stover said if there are four reservations that are made in a day for five months there are 600- 1,000 people that they would see in a season.
Zobel said sometimes the machines are run back and forth between Custer and Hill City. It all depends on customer needs.
Sometimes, it can be arranged for a UTV to be dropped off somewhere for those that have motor homes and don’t want to travel into town.
“If they don’t have a car to drive in, that’s really a benefit to them,” Stover said.
They are looking to stick with what they have right now instead of expanding to other equipment rentals.
People can call ahead for reservations, drop in and see what they have or send an e-mail. The phone number is 605-673-6600.