Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Nature & Wildlife
Custer State Park: A Wildlife Haven
The 71,000 acres of Custer State Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, are a wildlife haven— home to bighorn sheep, elk, deer, prairie dogs and wild burros. But the heart of Custer State Park is the American Bison.
The buffalo, as it is commonly called, are most often encountered along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. Visitors are likely to experience an occasional traffic jam as the animals move through the park. Because buffalo are unpredictable, visitors should not leave the safety of their vehicles.
Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn sheep and prairie dogs are also easily spotted along the Wildlife Loop, but the loop favorites are the begging burros. These animals are descendants of the donkeys used to haul early visitors to the top of Harney Peak. They are now famous for getting up close and personal with visitors.
When the seasons change, thousands come to the park to experience the annual buffalo roundup and arts festival. Held the last weekend in September, the art festival has local and regional art, as well as live entertainment. The culminating event is the Monday roundup when park staff and volunteers bring in the massive roaming buffalo herd. This spectacular display of the Old West is an event not to be missed.
Along with the free-roaming wildlife, families and adventure seekers can go horseback riding, take a buffalo jeep tour, hike wooded trails and participate in one of the parks many history and naturalist programs. Visitors can also kayak, canoe and swim in the refreshing mountain lakes.
Custer State Park guests often enjoy many of the nearby attractions, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, The Mammoth Site and Badlands National Park.
Rich in scenery, wildlife and adventure, Custer State Park is a place like no other and one of South Dakota’s crown jewels. Come, let your spirit soar.