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
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