Custer State Park in the southern Black Hills is home to the largest herd of buffalo around. That means you’re bound to see buffalo if you visit the park. Maybe you’ll see them, as we did, in these various locations….
On the beach at Legion Lake:
Along the Loop Road:
Or in one of the open fields or hillsides:
No matter where you see them, you’ll be reminded of what amazing creatures they are, and when one stops to look you in the eye, and you realize you’re maybe fifty feet from it, your brain can’t do the math fast enough: he can run at 30 mph.. which means he can cover this distance in… how many seconds? And I can run just …..??!???
But it’s all worth it!
It’s easy to get caught up in buffalo and prairie-dog watching, and forget about other great wildlife that roam the area. We saw our first pronghorn in the park, and later spotted them in private rangelands. Smart animals — if there’s all that free food out there in the open for cattle, why not graze there, too?
Not as many day hikes around Custer SP — most are very long into the interior, which is great for those who love to overnight in the back country. We did find a few hikes we especially liked.
The Lover’s Leap trail, starting across the road from the Peter Norbeck Visitor’s Center, was a gradual climb with a great view. This battered sign, its first plank missing, still reminds everyone who sees it about what’s most important:
“Place where one can still be an unworried and unregimented individual, and sit on a log and get his sanity back again. And wear any old clothes.”
Harney Peak is a popular hike, but we opted for Little Devil’s Tower, which rewards those who reach the top with spectacular views of Harney, the Needles, and miles and miles of the Black Hills.