Encompassing 73,000 acres in the Black Hills, Custer State Park is home to abundant wildlife and truly incredible scenery everywhere you look! It’s among the largest state park in the continental United States and It was named for George Armstrong Custer, who led an expedition that discovered gold along French Creek in 1874.
The park grew rapidly in the 1920s, and acquired additional land; during the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps made many park improvements. The CCC men laid out campgrounds and picnic areas, built a massive park museum, miles of roads, bridges and a stone fire tower. They also constructed three dams creating Stockade, Center and Legion Lakes. An additional 22,900 acres were added to the park in 1964.
This amazing park has scenic roads that go all thru and around the park. On Saturday July 9th we drove on a few scenic roads, one was Wildlife Loop Road. Wildlife Loop goes through prairie and ponderosa pine-studded hills, this is where many of the parks wildlife inhabitants live.
We were driving along and the Big Horn Sheep came from the other direction to say “Hi.”
Legion Lake on Wildlife Loop Road
A look out spot.
The Donkey’s came too.
The Bison Center tells the story of Custer State Park’s bison herd and hopes to educate future generations on the importance of bison through engaging and dynamic interpretive displays.
The free roaming herd of nearly 1,400 bison at Custer State Park is one of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herds.
“The Wildlife Station Visitor Center is located on the loop. You can park and ask the staff about the prairie habitats of the animals, or find out where you might see a herd of bison and other wildlife.
It’s a really neat old building that was originally built as the Buffalo Herdsman’s house and over the years has housed the herdsman and other park staff but recently became a Visitor Center around 1990. Inside you will witness the unique craftsmanship of the CCC era as well as exhibits, wildlife mounts and a bookstore.”
A hayride and a hoedown!
Seeing the animals we saw was on the loop was great and we were in store for another great adventure. We took an Old Fashion Hayride to a Chuck Wagon dinner feast.
The Blue Bell Lodge where we left from.
Be part of a Blue Bell tradition. This old-fashioned hayride takes you on a 45-minute scenic wildlife tour on the park’s beautiful backroad to a mountain meadow canyon for a chuck wagon feast. On the way, you can sing along to classic country and folk music! Each paying guest gets a souvenir cowboy hat and bandanna to help you play the part. That’s what they advertised, we got delayed about an hour on our hayride to dinner by . . .
Buffalo! The buffalo herd decided to block the road so we had to wait for them to move out of the way. Keith said this happens about once a year when the buffalo roam. It was a great way to see the buffalo herd all around us. Talk about up close and personal!
Keith kept singing, playing the guitar and harmonica while we waited as well as tell jokes and stories.
Menu includes your choice of either an 8 oz. choice sirloin steak or a 1/3 lb hamburger, with all the fixin’s: Cowboy beans, Cornbread and honey, Potato salad, Coleslaw, Watermelon, Cookies, Chuck wagon coffee and Lemonade. Everything was so delicious.
It was an enjoyable time with a great group of people and when we left some Buffalo come by to say so-long, fair well.