On this morning, Marcella, Landon and BJ, in their Jeep, along with Wayne, Lexie, Ozzie and I, in our car, took a day driving trip into Custer State Park. There are more than 71,000 acres inside Custer State Park -- we'll cover just a fraction of that in our visit today. Our park fee covers us for seven days and that's a good thing as the park could never be seen in a single day visit.
|Going up the road to Mt Coolidge Firetower at 6,023 feet. |
The sharp upward rocks area here is known as "Needles"
|Marcella, Landon and BJ going up to the Firetower|
|Crazy Horse Memorial as seen from atop Mt Coolidge.|
We were told a large group of buffalo might be seen in the southernmost area of the park as several hundred had already been herded into that area in advance of the Annual Buffalo Roundup. We took the road suggested and saw but a single bull resting in a field.
We drove on without seeing another buffalo although the road was heavy with dung. The ride was interrupted by traffic congestion caused by a large group of burros who seemed to think they were operating a toll booth -- challenging each vehicle that approached -- almost as though they were daring each one to run the gauntlet. These burros are beggars! Here's a slideshow of just a few of the toll takers.
|Just a small sampling of the great Custer State Park buffalo herd.|
|Wayne (with binoculars) and me, along with Marcella and Landon.|
|Red Valley Road. Rubi (including Marcella, Landon and BJ) leads the way!|
Notice the sign - "Buffalo are dangerous. Do not approach" -- We pay no attention!
Custer State Park is home to as many as 11,300 head of North American bison, more commonly known as buffalo. These fellows can grow to 6 feet tall and weight more than 2,000 pounds.
Recognizing the danger of losing the buffalo, the park, in 1914, purchased 36 bison to start a herd. By the 1940's, the size of the herd has swelled to over 2,500.
| Pronghorn (often called antelope) is the fastest land animal in North America and can run 60 mph for great distances. |
This fellow (or gal) was right on the roadside and seemed to be fighting with this clump of brush -- thrashing it's antlers in it.
|Another Pronghorn -- resting and not too concerned with me and my camera.|
|Deer are everywhere. Nighttime driving can really be hazardous here. |
This one was on the edge of the roadway.
South Dakota's original bighorn sheep was the Audubon subspecies but it became extinct in 1922. A herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn was introduced to Custer State Park -- these are their descendants.
|Bighorn rams and ewes both have horns. The males' have thick curled horns. That would indicate these are the girls.|
|You know me... always excited about eating!|
|We all ended up ordering some variety of buffalo burger. Mine was delicious.|