South Dakota Attractions】South Dakota Wildlife Top 1 - Custer State Park Travelogue

Custer State Park Introduction to Custer State Park

Custer State Park (Custer State ParkCuster State Park is a state park located in South Dakota. Although it is in South Dakota, so I think it should not be so famous, but in fact, everyone in the area knows that this state park is the best place to see wildlife in the nearby Black hills area. Custer State Park is just on the way from Wind Cave National Park to Mt. Rushmore, it is very close to the nearby cities, Custer city and Rapid city, and the wildlife quality is second to none.Roosevelt National ParkIf you like to see animals but don't have the time to run too far, check out the Black Hills National Forest with the rest of the Black hills attraction area,Wind Cave National ParkYou can also visit Angostura State Park, Mt Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and many other attractions, so you can arrange a few days to visit them together.

There are campgrounds and lodges in the park, but it was the winter off-season when we were here, and the Needles Highway, which is the most scenic part of the park, was not accessible, and there were not many people there. If you are just passing through, you can go into the visitor center to have a look, and you can also see some sheep and deer on the main road. However, I highly recommend driving around the bend and taking the Wildlife Loop, you can see more animals.

Theoretically, you need to pay 20 dollars to enter the park, and you can use it for 7 days. Since the park's main road, Highway 16A, is also a major traffic artery, you don't need to pay the fee if you just pass by and don't use the facilities, so it's kind of like a free pass. However, if you plan to go to Wildlife Loop or Needles Highway, you should pay the fee. During the low season, there is no one around, but we paid by using the envelopes on the side of the road. I heard that during the high season, there might be some park staffs to stop us, but this time, no one asked us when we entered the visitor center.

Custer State Park, Custer State Park 1

Visitor Center

The visitor center is quite big, but there were only two volunteers, an old couple. The old lady was very enthusiastic and introduced us to the places where we could easily see the animals. The park is very careful in monitoring the animals, especially the bison herd, and the current location of the bison was shown on the map of the visitor center. The volunteer lady told us that the park controls the number of bison at around 500 and sells about two-thirds of the bison at a regular auction in November every year to ensure that their living environment can be maintained. If you want to keep a bison at home, you can buy one here! (But the amount of space and grass needed to raise them is amazing.)

On the map to the right you can see the route from Wind Cave National Park to Mt Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park is from the south on highway 87, if the road is open, you can drive the Wildlife Loop (the thick black route below) through Custer State Park and then take 16A (the red route) to Mt Rushmore. The Wildlife Loop (the bold black route below) passes Custer State Park, then takes 16A (the red route) up to Mt Rushmore, while the famous Needles Highway is the bold black route above 87, heading northwest, but it is not open this time.

Wild Life Loop

We actually came to the Wild Life Loop twice, once at dusk and the other time during the day, and saw different herds of animals. The road is 18 miles long and runs south from the visitor center. You can make a loop and pick up the Needles Highway or go back to the visitor center. The scenery along the road is very beautiful, and you can even watch the sunset. However, this time, the Wildlife Loop was only halfway to Buffalo Corral, so we turned back the way we came. It took us about one and a half hours just to go through the Wildlife Loop.

Since it is called Wildlife loop, you can imagine that it is the place with the most animals. From time to time, you can see bison and deer.

When we arrived at Buffalo Carole, we encountered a whole herd of donkeys. These donkeys will flock to the car when they see it, probably knowing that tourists like to feed them.

I was lucky to meet a big group of elk at dusk, at least a couple hundred of them. When I chatted with a volunteer aunt, she said it was very rare, probably because it was winter and they were moving around in large groups to feed, so it was quite lucky to see them. According to the volunteer aunty, you can't see them during the summer vacation. From July to now, there are only 4 times in 6 months that we can see them.

Further reading

Other Nearby Attractions

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