Custer State Park Bison

Bison / Buffalo of Custer State Park South Dakota

If you are planning a family vacation, you may want to consider South Dakota. In particular, you should look into the Black Hills in Southwestern South Dakota. Within the Black Hills, you will find the first and largest state parks in South Dakota, Custer State Park, named for the famous George Custer. This park and wildlife sanctuary is home to many animals including elk, deer, mountain goats, mountain lions, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, bighorn sheep and a band of burros. But the most famous species to inhabit the park are the Custer State Park Bison.

These majestic beasts have over 71,000 acres of open land to share with all the other wildlife. They number approximately 1,500 and are a huge attraction. Tourists come from far and wide to admire these free roaming creatures.

At 1500 in size, this herd is one of the largest in the world. A bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds which is quite a sight to see while they are trying to cross the road in front of you! Traffic is often halted as the herd makes their way across Wildlife Loop Road, the 18 mile scenic byway that runs through the park.

The bison were a staple in the lives of the Lakota (Sioux) tribe. Bison was a main food source and also provided clothing and shelter to the people. The Sioux name for bison was tatanka. Bison are also known as American Buffalo although the term buffalo is a little misleading as they are only distantly related to either of two real buffalo species in the world.

Perhaps if you are interested in purchasing some bison, you can plan your trip around the annual Custer State Park Fall Buffalo Roundup and Bison Auction. For the past 44 years, the park has offered surplus bison for sale to the public. Funds generated by the auction are used toward operating the parks system of the state.

If you do go, use common sense when encountering the bison. They are very large and very strong. You cannot always predict what they will do. It is best to view them from the safety of your vehicle.