Bison, burros, and pronghorns

Today the crew and I rode the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park.

It was one of the most enjoyable days of my life.  Not only did I see my first bison, I was surrounded by hundreds!  I’ll let the slideshow tell the story.

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About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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65 Responses to Bison, burros, and pronghorns

  1. earthdancerimages says:

    WoW!!!!!! Amazing! It’s like that at Yellowstone too! Whar a great day you had! Wonderful Pictures Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The wildlife loop through Custer will be one of my great memories of this summer. The photos show windshield glare and are out of focus due to the moving PTV. Glad you enjoyed them anyway!

  2. Oh look at all the babies. How did the doggies respond?

  3. Chinle says:

    Great photos! It was at Custer that I once watched a cpoyote trying to make its way through a big herd of buffalo. It would start out, get chased, and retreat. It finally ended up going way around the whole herd. Buffalo scare me, too. Looks like you had fun!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I did have a great time at Custer. It must have been fascinating to watch the coyote in a herd of bison. Glad you liked the photos… some are bad because I took them while the car was moving or the sun glare was on the windshield. I included them anyway because of the content of the photos.

  4. Chuck says:

    That is one very healthy herd with that many calves. You can tell it was a warm spring, their winter coats are almost shed. What a magnificent sight!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The experience seems reverential, because, for once, the people drive about 2 mph and no one makes a sound. You feel like you are part of the herd.

  5. Cari says:

    What lovely pictures! Texas has a bison herd at Caprock Canyons State Park, that my mother and I saw in April, but it’s not nearly as large as this one! And the burros are cute too – “my what big ears you have!”

  6. Laura Roorda says:

    Sue, great pictures, I hope to get back there someday myself. I am curious how you get your license in South Dakota. Do you have to take a written test, or can you just go in and get your license?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Laura!

      You don’t have to take a written test. You take a quick test of your eyesight (read a line of letters), show your documents (ss card, birth certificate, any name changes, proof you spent a night in SD, and an affidavit form they provide and notarize.) It’s easy!

  7. Pat says:

    Great….. You show me places I have to add to my list. I have been exploring the Oregon coast, but you make me homesick for the less populated areas of the west.

    • hobopals says:

      You’re on the coast at the wrong time, Pat, except that the weather is usually good in June. You have to look, but there are isolated places to explore and hike. Enjoy. It’s a beautiful part of the country. What town are you near?

      • Pat says:

        I am in Portland, camped along the river. Tomorrow I am going to Lincoln City with some friends who live here. I plan on staying on the coast for a few more weeks. Have to go on 101 as far as possible.

        • hobopals says:

          I LOVE the Columbia River–every inch of it. It may be that the heat from the inland valleys is sending people running for the cool air on the coast. Do you have a blog? I’d love to read about your travels in Oregon. It was 106 here, yesterday, and we’re expected to break a record set in the 30s, today. Atlanta. Hot. Humid. Buggy.

  8. cinandjules says:

    Great pics……………..the one of the burro with his nose halfway into the PTV is absolutely precious. And where was Spikey and Bridget during this event?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Bridget and Spike were asleep in the PTV. They woke up when the burro stuck his nose in the window. Fortunately we were almost out of the burro area and I was able to pull away before Spike gave himself a stroke.

  9. cathieok says:

    Did the puppers have a good bark?
    Was curious if there was a “do not feed the animals” sign that those people missed?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Cathie….

      The only downer of the day was seeing a burro eating hot fries off the pavement. People were encouraging their children to feed the burros. I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever human beings are around, idiotic behavior will surely appear. Signs are everywhere saying “don’t feed wildlife” and the brochure given at the gate explains why you shouldn’t. Of course, people have to READ signs and brochures . . . .

  10. The burros were our favorite. I think the same one stuck it’s head in our car, too. The bison are so big they’re a bit intimidating!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Pays to give the buffalo a wide berth!! Aren’t their heads HUGE though? When we were in Yellowstone in April 9 years ago they clogged up the traffic quite a bit. It has snowed and was melted off the roads so I suppose they like we, preferred the drier place to walk.

    • hobopals says:

      I had emergency surgery in Rapid City one year. As I was being admitted a man was coming in having been gored by a bison. He was taking pictures and wanted a close up. My surgery was delayed to try to save his life. It wasn’t successful and he died on the table. I was next on my surgeon’s schedule–not a great feeling!

  12. minicooper10 says:

    Sue, did you drive the road from the Visitors Center through the battlefield marked with flags and tombstones for the fallen, Custer included? And then the eloquent quote from Black Elk? A sacred spiritual experience.

    • DesertHawk says:

      minicooper10, the Battlefield you are thinking of is in Montana, not South Dakota. This is Custer State Park near Custer, SD; Custer was in this area some years before the Little BigHorn Battle. By then Custer was stationed in Fort Abraham Lincoln near Mandan & Bismarck, North Dakota.

      Custer’s men discovered gold in this area now named after him. “In 1874, Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills and announced the discovery of gold on French Creek near present-day Custer, South Dakota. Custer’s announcement triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush. Among the towns that immediately grew up was Deadwood, South Dakota, notorious for lawlessness.”

      The Little BigHorn Battle was June 25 and 26 of 1876.

      Hope this helps.

  13. Sra. Julia says:

    It is just wonderful being so close to those big animals ! I had a great time visiting Custer and the museum is nice too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Sra. Julia . . . I’m so glad I made it to Custer SP. I might not have driven up here if it weren’t for the driver’s license. Another reason not to establish residency in Texas . . . You have a reason to drive to SD!

  14. Jeannie says:

    To Sue: We did not have to take a test, just an eye exam. If you are establishing residency in South Dakota, you need a documented stay at a campground for ONE night, and several other documents to get your license. Alternative Resources, one of the mail forwarding services in South Dakota does a terrific job of looking out for you when you are ready to do that. Sorry to butt in, Sue. Didn’t know if you would see the replies. BTW, we have been to Custer twice. One time, the bison were nowhere to be seen, the next time on the Wildlife Loop Drive they were everywhere like you saw them. Isn’t it great!?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I love the wildlife loop. I was fortunate to see so many bison all around the PTV and on the grassy slopes. This is the kind of thing I really enjoy.

  15. Jim Sathe says:


    We will be arriving at Custer State Park tomorrow (Friday). We will be at the Legion Lake Campground on Hwy 16. If that is anywhere near where you are, Rosie and I would love to meet you and the crew for a few minutes to say Hi.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m writing this on Saturday. Today I’m going into Hot Springs to do laundry, not doing the tourist thing! I’ll probably ride up to see Mt. Rushmore tomorrow. I’d enjoy meeting you, too. If I drive by your campground, I’ll stop in.

      • Jim Sathe says:

        We are the Alpenlite 5th wheel in Site 16E. We are going to my brother’s home in Rapid City on Sunday. We will probably be gone from 11 am until 8 pm. It looks like we may not connect this time. Darn.

  16. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy rv sue & crew,
    Did you see any bison today?? Where were the elk?? I didn’t see any Indians, either!!!

  17. Joy A. says:

    Each year they have a Buffalo roundup in mid September along the loop.

  18. Pat says:

    I love Custer State Park. We were there last Fall. There were so many animals and the buffalo were amazing. It is one of the nicest parks. We also loved driving thru Needles. It was scary and I was very glad I was driving. Otherwise, I’d have put my foot thru the floor. Enjoy! Wish we were with you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I haven’t driven through Needles yet, but I plan to do so. I love Custer SP, too. I can see why many consider it a spiritual place. I love the gentle landscape and the quiet, of course.

  19. Sue says:

    Wow that a lot of big Bison.

  20. gingerda says:

    Beautiful scenery. I can’t believe the animals are so close to the road!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The bison ignore the cars. People stop and look in wonder from inside their cars. Bison have such massive heads! It’s quite an experience to be in the middle of a herd of such powerful animals.

  21. DesertHawk says:

    Wow, still no Elk, but Bison are neater to see. One can see Elk in many areas of the West & Southwest…..normally one can see them. Not sue why they get really shy when you guys are near. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the jinks will be broken soooon.

    If lucky the first one will look something like this:
    Elk Cows do not have antlers:

    They maybe in Velvet this time of year:

    Good Luck in your Elk Hunting (camera only)!

    • hobopals says:

      I remember once walking in an area with my dog and a “poop bag” to clean up after her while trying to find a place to step without stepping in elk poop. What was wrong with THAT picture. LOL

  22. DesertHawk says:

    The first time we were up there, we had stopped along the Wildlife Loop & watched a herd of donkey walk along the grassy meadow & a man was following them. He eventually came down to the road. We talked to him for a while. He was a local & liked seeing what they did (studying them it seemed). Our daughter & son were young then (both have kids of there own now), he warned us to be very careful walking along the highway, rattlesnake could be in the grassy area next to the roadway. Especially in areas with prairie dog towns, if there are prairie dogs, there are rattlers near as well, often in the prairie dog tunnels.

    Never saw any, but it pays to keep watch for them in tall grass especially. No reason to be greatly fearful, but something to remember.

  23. Maribeth says:

    We enjoyed our trip to the black hills area several years ago, before we were RVing (we stayed in a beautiful vacation home) We were there in September for the buffalo roundup in Custer State Park. It was awesome. Here is to hoping we get back there someday now that we have the RV. Glad you enjoyed your day, that it what it is all about.

  24. Darlene says:

    Custer Park is one of the best places to go on vacation, one of my favorites. Last time we were there an old male buffalo was laying at the entrance and we were told the young males had chased him out of the he just hung out there for safety.. needles hwy is great scenery.

  25. Marcia says:

    Looks like you got your quota of buffalo – and burros, too! What a great scenic tour.

  26. Linda Lufkin Taylor says:

    Didn’t need to go west to see a sizable heard of buffalo here near Cambridge, NY. For several years, a heard was kept on an area farm and I watched the calves as I drove home each night. Have to admit that I wouldn’t have wanted to own the house surrounded by these fields as the smell in summer was a bit much.

  27. Patty says:

    My husband and I visited there many years ago and loved it. That was long before we became campers. We hope to get back to that area sometime.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I hope you do make it back here, Patty. My SD driver’s license expires in 5 years. Now that I’ve seen some of this area, I don’t mind having to return.

  28. Great pictures Sue! How lucky you are to have seen all the wonderful animals! I have never seen a Buffalo up close. Wow! I see they can come into the road,,,, are they a danger to your car or yourself??? Can you get out to take pictures or it that dangerous?? Just wondering. I am still at my daughters in Salem, Mass. Itching to get out and go other places now. Doing the family thing and just about done!! Going to Maine for a few days to a cottage with the family and then starting out on my own again. Take care.. Hi to the crew!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It’s not wise to get out of the car near bison. They seem very peaceful from the interior of a car, but who knows how they would react to your presence. The park has signs posted warning people that bison are dangerous and should not be approached.

      A Maine cottage with family . . . sounds wonderful, Sharon.

  29. mickent says:

    Bad connections are the most common electrical fault. You need to keep the PTV to BLT connector clean and dry. Ask at NAPA for contact cleaner. Use a cotton swab to scrub the contacts, wet with contact cleaner. If your BLT battery is not the same type as the PTV batteries this could cause a problem, but it has been a long time showing up??


    • Bill says:

      Spot on Mick. That DC cord for the PTV to the battery in the BLT can easily develop some resistance due to debris. It carries a sizeable amount of current depending on the state of charge on both batteries. While your at it Sue, clean the trailer connector pins, both sides! cheers br (ps-hi MICK)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ll get some contact cleaner. Good advice.

  30. Bill says:

    FYI The Armendarius Ranch, now owned by Ted Turner is located east of Elephant Butte lake at the railroad tracks at Engle, NM The offices for the ranch are located there and run by Tom Waddell. K did some canvas/awning work for him years ago. The Turner ranch maintains a sizeable heard of Bison and Tom slaughters an animal every year and donates half to the EB Lake fire department for their barbeque fund raiser. It’s a HOOT! cheers, br

  31. Mike says:

    Hi Sue,
    If you enjoyed Custer State Park, I would highly recommend going to Bear Country a few miles down the road, check out the below link. Myself, the wife and our pups visited there a couple of years ago and it was well worth it. Enjoy your time and I hope it’s cool. It’s in the 90’s here in Minnesota.
    Take Care

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You know me well, Mike! I would very much like to visit Bear Country. I’ll try to do that before we leave this area. I hope the forest fires north of here are under control soon.

  32. Tara says:

    Hi Sue…….if the suggestion hasn’t been made already, you should try to go up to Devil’s Tower just inside Wyoming on your way West. You will love it. They have a nice campground there, but it’s pretty shady.

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