In Part One of this South Dakota Road Trip, we explored Sioux Falls, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, and Badlands National Park. Part Two continues our journey.


Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park – Close Encounters of the Bison Kind


Road trip maps available throughout the region detail a number of suggested driving itineraries, including ones that incorporate the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, part of the Black Hills, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park. The Black Hills National Forest (65 miles wide, 125 miles long, and 1.2 million acres) includes a treasure of two National Scenic Byways and 13,000 acres of wilderness. Through it, you can access six national parks, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Badlands National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, and Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.



We ventured into the Badlands on Iron Mountain Road and Needles Highway. Every twist and turn shows different views, with hills and valleys that seem to go on forever. (Watch the video.)


We also toured Custer State Park. Not only did we drive the main roadway through Custer, but we chose to extend our drive an additional 30 miles and get deeper into the park on the Wildlife Loop Road to try to view some of the wildlife that abounds in the area.


We met up with a cluster of some of the most docile donkeys. (Watch the video.) They came right up to you and allowed you to pet them. We saw prong-horn antelope and hundreds of prairie dogs.


Then we saw them: seven-foot, one-ton buffalo that were crossing the road to get to the other side. We rolled down our windows to get better pictures. As our car was stopped, waiting for the buffalo to cross, one of them almost put its head inside our car. It made a loud sound! We screamed and closed the windows! Amazing!!! (Watch the video.)


If you are riding in a car, RV, or other location-altering vehicle, you should go on Needles Highway, which is a beautiful place with scenic views.
We saw plenty of animals on our trip to the Badlands and Black Hills, such as kangaroo mice, hawks, antelope, and a host of others. Most memorably of our fauna experience was in Custer State Park. We saw a horde of cars stopped in the middle of the road, and, as we got closer, we saw about 100 buffalo.
My mother and my friend quickly hopped out of the car to take pictures and almost just as quickly hopped back in, locking the doors behind them. They had gotten a couple car lengths away from the buffalo and were so intimidated by their awesome stance that they came back, hollering.
We drove down the road a little further, and my mother opened her window to take pictures. All of a sudden, we heard a freakish noise. It turns out that buffalos burp. Let me say, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip.


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