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Drive the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop

Custer, South Dakota

based on 9 reviews


Added by Alex Thompson

Savor a 30-minute drive with sights of bison, burros, pronghorn, and more!

The Custer State Park Wildlife Loop runs for 18 miles across beautiful grasslands and pine-speckled slopes that are home to much of the park's wildlife. Bison, pronghorn, whitetail, mule deer, elk, coyotes, burros, prairie dogs, eagles, hawks, and a variety of other birds may be spotted along the way. Depending on the time of year, the road may be surrounded by beautiful, colorful wildflowers and sweeping views of green prairie grassland.

Plan for 2-4 hours to fully explore this 18-mile loop, and head out in the morning or just before sunset to maximize your chances of spotting wildlife. More than 1,400 bison live in Custer State Park, and many of them are often gathered close to the visitor center, causing frequent traffic jams and giving tourists an up-close look at them. When in their company, always remain in your vehicle and use caution, as they are deceptively fast and can be very dangerous.

Another popular possible wildlife sighting along the drive is known as the Begging Burros encounter. Descendants of a herd that once provided trail rides in the park, these burros are the friendliest of the wildlife lot.

Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours are also available at the State Game Lodge Resort for visitors looking to get access to the off-road areas and gain a deeper insight into the history and maintenance of the park and its wildlife inhabitants.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
ADA Accessible


Got up close. Too close

The abundance of wildlife in this park is unbelievable and it is so close. Definitely a photographers dream. My advice would be to go in the off-season when there are not a line of cars stopped to photograph every bison.

Didn’t see much wildlife, but that’s how she goes sometimes

This drive is best done in the early morning or around sunset. There are tons of bison, but even more cars, which can be a drag if you go in the middle of the day. The burros were super cute as well!

Cool experience if you're not headed to Yellowstone or Glacier.

I live minutes from the loop, and it never fails to have some kind of Wildlife! If you are lucky you might be surrounded by a herd of buffalo when you park on the road to watch them!

This loop was full of wildlife. I saw Bison, Elk, Monster bucks, and a eagle, there was much more!

There is maybe a 10% chance that you will not see any animals on this loop. The other 90% of the time you'll get to see buffalo, burrows, prairie dogs, and the occasional elk, antelope, and deer. Please stay in your vehicle when you're near the buffalo, do not put babies in your cars, and respect all wildlife you see. The burrows are very friendly and love snacks such as carrots and other veggies!

I just recently moved here from California and was out driving around looking for cool adventure spots and stumbled upon "Wildlife Loop Rd". I said why not and turned down the road. After a few miles or so I saw tons of deer and antelope. Soon after, I came over this hill and there were buffalo everywhere! I was stoked to say the least. With no hesitation I drove closer and ended up being surrounded by cute, friendly Buffaloes. I was able to get some amazing pictures and videos of them, I definitely recommend taking this drive.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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Go Great Places in South Dakota

In the Mount Rushmore state, travels to South Dakota are full of one-of-a-kind adventure with wide-open spaces as endless as the horizons. Between legendary landscapes and scenic drives, you can always find space that shifts life into park. When you’re ready, go great places.

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