Friday, September 11, 2009

What an Amazing Place!

We're on vacation and we've come to the most amazing place! We are spending six days at Custer State Park in South Dakota. We visited Mt. Rushmore 25 years ago, but we had not even heard of Custer State Park until a couple of years ago. What a place!

Today we drove the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road this morning and within less than two hours we saw Prairie Dogs, Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn, Turkey, wild Burros, White Tailed Deer, and, of course, Buffalo. I wasn't able to get a usable picture of the deer, but the rest we saw fairly close-up.

Prairie Dogs are common, but this one is kind of cute.

From Sept2009

In late September each year they round up the cow and calf Buffalo in the park, brand the calves, and sell off about 500 of the animals. This helps keep the herd in the park a reasonable size so they remain healthy. The old bull Buffalo aren't rounded up. We did see a small group of cows and calves lying down in a meadow, but they were behind some brush and I couldn't get a picture. This old bull was grazing not far from our campground.

We see Pronghorn all the time along the roads in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, but they are usually far away and we are driving at about 60 mph or more. Today we were able to stop and get some pretty good pictures. Aren't they great looking? I love the male, who was keeping an eye on several females.

We saw this small herd of Bighorn Sheep, all females. (At least I think they are Bighorn Sheep. Both males and females have horns, but only the males have the long curling ones. The Mountain Goats are all white and live high in the mountains.)

A herd of burros once hauled visitors to the top of Harney Peak in the park. When the rides were discontinued, the burros were released into the wild. Now they entertain visitors. Doesn't this fellow look like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Poo fame?

Twice during the drive we watched turkey run across the road. They are really fast! At least you can make out this one in the grass.

There are lots more things to see and do here in the park. I'll share them later.


  1. What a terrific assortment of wildlife to be able to see in a relatively small area.

    I just read this article about the water problems in the West
    and thought of you travelling back and forth in the high plains and foothills. I thought you might like to read it and wonder if you had noticed any of the changes mentioned.

  2. Carol,

    We agree that Custer State Park is wonderful. It is packed with so much beauty that we think it is worth visiting again. It seems more on the scale of a National Park rather than a state park, don't you think?