This is a continuation of a travel series to South Dakota. To start at the beginning, go HERE. The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Now for this week's post: Wildlife Loop! Custer State Park is most famous for this scenic drive. The exquisite beauty of this drive is incredible! Even if you don't see a single animal, it is worth it! We were very fortunate and saw a lot of animals. I think the only animal we didn't see were the "Friendly Burros"😢 . But we followed the park's advice, and got there bright and early in the morning when the animals are most active. I overheard some visitors saying that other people took the drive and never saw any buffalo. You really must do this drive as early in the day as possible if you want to see wildlife. It's also less crowded. We had the drive all to ourselves for quite awhile, which was really nice.
At first, I didn't think we were going to see any animals. We seemed to have to drive quite a distance in before we saw any wildlife. And then, it happened. We spotted our first buffalo taking a dust bath on the side of the road. We were so excited. We waited for him to finish and get up so I could snap this picture. He was only a few feet from our car! It was amazing!
And then he decided to walk on the road! It was kind of scary as he is a huge animal and we were in a small car (Chevy Malibu). We were afraid he was going to bust our side mirrors off our car. 🤣 This picture was taken from inside our car as viewed from the dashboard window.
Here is that same buffalo walking behind my car. My husband was like "Should we move or just stay put?" He didn't want him to ram his car.
We eventually decided to pull over and let him pass. It was such an incredible experience!
Wildlife Loop is loaded with prairie dogs. We saw them from the side of the road, but we also saw tons of them when we stopped at one of the scenic parking lots where you can get out of your car for wildlife viewing. The prairie dogs "chatter" at you when you're on their turf. I read that it's a warning noise for the other prairie dogs. They are so adorable!
They do have safari rides at the park. They drive right into the herd so you can get a close up view. Those last about 2 hours and cost approximately $50.00 per person. We did not take one of those rides but we saw the jeep ride into the herd and thought that would be a fun thing to do.
I just love the gorgeous color in the rolling hills. This is one thing I really liked about Custer State Park: the diverse landscape within the park! How often do you see that? Just think, yesterday we were up in the mountains on our Black Elk Peak Hike looking at Cathedral Spires and other interesting rock formations, and today were admiring the gorgeous rolling hills of Wildlife Loop. It was hard to believe it was the same park!
Another animal we spotted was this pronghorn deer. It was fun watching him run right through the buffalo herd.
Later we were able to get a close up of him right from our car!
If you have binoculars, bring them with you! I have a pair, but I forgot to bring them with me. Sometimes the animals are so far away they can be hard to see.
Wildlife Loop is 18 miles long. Along this loop you can expect to see bison, elk, burros, pronghorn, white tail, and mule deer, coyotes (we saw several but they move so fast I couldn't capture one on camera), prairie dogs, hawks, eagles, and other birds. Allow at least one to two hours to complete the loop.
In addition to the Safari Tours, they also have a "Hayride and Chuck Wagon Cookout" that looked like a lot of fun. It also costs around $50 per person and takes you on a 45 minute hayride tour on the back roads of Wildlife Loop. They sing songs, and you get a souvenir cowboy hat and bandana. They eventually take you to a canyon where you enjoy a cowboy feast of steak or hamburger with beans, cornbread, potato salad, watermelon, cookies, coffee, and lemonade. If I ever take the grandkids to this park, we might have to do that! They would love it!
Have A Great Day! Amy
Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!
Gosh...I can't believe that buffalo was SO close to you. That's almost scary!! But amazing!!ReplyDelete
I know, right? It's pretty scary when the buffalo is the same size as the car.Delete
I am loving all the animals- and you got right up close to that buffalo! South Dakota is beautiful!ReplyDelete
Le Stylo Rouge
Yes, we did! South Dakota is gorgeous! I couldn't believe how much I loved it there.Delete
Love seeing these pictures so much! We loved Wildlife Loop and got to see many animals up close too. We did not take the safari ride but somehow a whole herd of buffalo were crossing the road as we drove on it. And I agree even without the animals, the landscape is just magnificant.ReplyDelete
Wow! That must have been exciting! I was nervous with just one buffalo on the road.Delete
Oh I am adding binoculars to my packing list right now! Great suggestion. I had no idea they had prairie dogs; my youngest just LOVES those playful little guys.ReplyDelete
Yes, I wish I would have thought to have brought mine along on the trip. I love prairie dogs too. Cutest things ever!Delete
That was one mighty BIG buffalo Amy - I didn't realize they reached that size. Great that you got to see so much wildlife and the countryside is spectacular too.ReplyDelete
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM :)
Yes it was! You never realize how huge they are till you are next to one!Delete
Oh, how beautiful! I love scenic drives. There is a park that has a loop here in St. Louis and you can drive around it and see a lot of nice animals from your car. I would have been worried too with the buffalo on the road! Ha! Esp since my car is new!!ReplyDelete
Thanks Carrie! I didn't know about that park in St. Louis. I've always been meaning to get back there and see some of their free parks.Delete
My goodness, that was one big buffalo. I understand why your husband didn't want to get too close. The wild turkeys reminded me of something a friend told us when we visited Queensland in Australia. They had wild bush turkeys around their property and my husband asked if they were any good for eating. Our friend said, just put them in a pot with boiling water and a stone. When the stone is soft the turkey is ready. Ha!ReplyDelete
ha-ha! Yes, we have wild turkeys here in Wisconsin and people hunt them, but I have heard that they are very tough and that they do not taste like a Butterball turkey at all.Delete
Nice place dear!I hope you had a great experience! xxReplyDelete
La ilusión de Nina - http://lailusiondenina.blogspot.com.es/
Thank you! I did!Delete
Hi Amy what a fabulous trip. So much wildlife and the bison are huge! It reminds me of the safaris in Africa with the animals wandering around. I'm learning more about the beauty of the USA and my husband and I would like to visit again and do a road trip. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great weekend. xReplyDelete
Oh, the USA is such a beautiful, diverse landscape. If you ever make it back, it would be great to do a blogger meet up!Delete
What a fun scenic drive! it's great that you got to see so many animals too! I had no idea buffalo were so big, how scary having them so close to your car!ReplyDelete
Hope you have a great weekend ahead of you :) We have a busy but fun one planned!
Away From The Blue
Yes, it was. Thanks for visiting Mica!Delete
It sounds like you had such a wonderful trip, Amy. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm glad you (and your car) survived the close encounter!ReplyDelete
Yes we did, thank you!Delete
That buffalo looks so big, what a magnificent animal! I love spending time in nature. It is always great when we get the chance to observe wildlife in person. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Yes, buffalo are huge. I love seeing animals in the wild too!Delete