Our First American Safari in Custer State Park- South Dakota

a sign at a park

While researching things to do for our trip to South Dakota, I came across Custer State Park. Kim and I really love seeing wildlife in their natural setting and we read that Custer  had lots of animals to view in the park on an 18- mile Wildlife Loop Road. I was really looking forward to the visit.

We’ve been to Africa two times and got to view and get up close with lots of animals on game drives, hiking, biking and boat safaris. We’ve also had many other  great animal related experiences all around the world. Check out my post My Top 5 Animal Encounters to see some of the experiences that we’ve had.
a group of buffalo walking on a road

The animal at the top of my list to see was bison (American buffalo). Ever since I got to see cape buffalo in Africa I wanted to see the American version.

Our first stop in the park was at the general store for a snack. I started chatting with an elderly woman at the register. I asked her questions about animals in the park and best times to view them. The woman gave me some great advice. She told me that the best time to experience the WIldlife Loop was early evenings and also first thing in the morning. We were planning on coming the following morning due to the recommendation of the South Dakota Tourism but hadn’t planned on coming at night.
a group of buffalo walking on a road

Luckily we took the woman’s advice and went back to Custer around 7:00pm. On the way we saw a couple of bison right outside the park which was  awesome! Once we started the loop we came across a prairie dog town and saw tons of them running around. A few minutes later we were stuck in traffic. The traffic on the road was not cars, it was a massive herd of bison. They were everywhere! The bison walked right by our car, I could have reached out and touched one if I wanted to. This experience alone made heading back to the park at night totally worth it.

a buffalo walking on the road

Asides from the prairie dogs and bison, we also saw pronghorns, deer and burros.

a deer with horns standing in a grassy field
a small animal standing on its hind legs
Prairie Dog
a donkey standing in a field

The following morning we were running a bit late. We saw a few bison once again on the way in to the park but then had to stop to change Lucas. After stopping again at the prairie dog town, I expected to see a huge herd of bison. We did the full wildlife loop and did not see any!

Good thing that I listened to the lady in the shop or I would’ve only seen a few bison on the side of the road.

5 thoughts on “Our First American Safari in Custer State Park- South Dakota

  1. Thanks for sharing! Experiences like this one are why I think it’s great to balance amazing international trips with trips in the USA that can be just as worthwhile. Great photos 🙂

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