With all the improvements to our newly acquired house going on, our family didn’t have much time for sightseeing in the beautiful Black Hills. This changed last weekend, when we decided to go “where the buffalo roam” and visit Custer State Park.
The park is a 71,000-acre natural playground for all manner of wildlife, and for visitors big and small too. It offers plethora of opportunities to get out and explore nature, from wildlife watching to fishing, camping, boating, hiking, mountain biking in the spring, summer and fall or snowshoeing in winter. The park also offers interpretive tours and various other events, such as the famous annual buffalo roundup, which attracts people from all over the country and even from abroad.
As this was only our second time in Custer State Park, we decided to forgo any special activities and only take a scenic drive through the park instead. We started on the Wildlife Loop where sightings of deer, pronghorn antelope, wild burros, and of course – buffalo are quite common.
We were treated to sights of several large herds of buffalo grazing in the meadows, with their young peering with curiosity at the passing cars.
There are numerous signs posted throughout the park warning visitors not to feed the animals. However, neither burros nor people pay much attention to them. There is one particular area of the park where burros seem to congregate and descend upon any stopped vehicles in a quest to obtain whatever edible items might be stashed away in there. It is always best to come prepared, carrying a few bags of carrots at a minimum.
Since we managed to survive the burro invasion, we decided to do another scenic drive before heading home. The logical choice was Needles Highway, a narrow mountain road passing through breathtakingly beautiful area of the park with gorgeous views, several single lane tunnels, and a couple of sparkling blue lakes.
This drive however is not for the faint of heart. If you are not fond of steep inclines and deep ravines on the side of the road, you’d be better off not taking this route. On the other hand, the scenery is so beautiful that you might just forget all about your fears while trying to capture all of these natural wonders on film.
Custer State Park is definitely one of the must see places in the Black Hills, so make sure to visit it if you are anywhere in the vicinity. I am positive we will be spending quite a bit of our outdoors time there.