2010-07-13 - SD, Custer State Park Wildlife Loop 1047 No trip to Mount Rushmore would be complete without a drive along the Wildlife Loop of neighboring Custer State Park. 

In 1912, Governor Norbeck (who had also encouraged the creation of Mount Rushmore) had a dream of creating a park that would re-introduce many of the wildlife species that had once roamed the area, as well as provide lodging for visitors to the Monument.

He oversaw the introduction of bison, elk, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, and with the protection provided, they flourished.   Knowing we were more likely to spot wildlife in either early morning  or evening hours, we headed out early this morning for the 30+ mile drive.

We were fortunate enough to see bison (many, just as we entered the park), white-tailed deer, pronghorns, prairie dogs, marmots, and the loveable park burros, in addition to beautiful landscape.

The most spectacular animal in the park, the buffalo herd average 1500 in the summer, and are thinned through a round-up to around 950 for the winter.  Those sold from the roundup end up all over the country.  There is a buffalo farm just a few miles from McCormick’s Creek State Park in Indiana, where we camphost in the summer.  Buffalo meat is lower in both calories and cholesterol than other red meat.

How big is a buffalo?  A mature bull can weigh 2000 lbs (a ton!) or more.

Click on the bull below for photos from our drive.2010-07-13 - SD, Custer State Park Wildlife Loop 1001