Thursday, October 27, 2011

WHERE THE BUFFALO (BISON) ROAM, AND OTHER CREATURES

Bison Herd Custer State Park
Surprisingly our Moroccan Reunion Tour had long segments of bus-riding with intermittent stops at tourism centers, designated overlooks or pull-over spots. This was OK with me, as getting on and off the bus with my short legs and short breath was the hardest effort of the day on me.
Bison - Custer State Park
Thus were the the tours through Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands. For me these were good touring days and I still have some good but not excellent photos, most of which were taken while the bus was moving, or through bus windows. This post will be  Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands may be one or two other posts. I also have Deadwood and Wall SD, too, as well as two nights dining.


I like to provide historical backgrounds; Four different histories would be a lot to digest in one post.
Bison - Custer State Park
The tour through Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park was a bus ride with few stops. It was designed to see the natural wild life of South Dakota. The two drives connect with each other.
Wind Cave National Park does have a cave; in fact it is the 4th largest in the world with 135 miles of passageways. However, this tour was not the cavern, but a warm afternoon drive to hopefully see the abundant wildlife in both parks, like bison, elk, deer, antelope, ferrets, prairie dogs and coyotes. During this drive the sightings of wildlife were sparse; it was a very warm afternoon.
Burro - Custer State Park
SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera)

There are campgrounds, a visitor's center, bike trails, and Ranger discovery programs of 2-hour prairie hikes. A Junior ranger program is provided for ages 6-12, as well as evening programs at Elk Mountain campground on subjects like history, geology, wildlife and the prairie ecosystem during the summer.
The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), one of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt's more successful "alphabet" efforts to provide work during the Great Depression, contributed to the creation of these parks. The laborers planted trees, paved roads, constructed parks,etc.
Since the roads we took for Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park connected to each other I will not be able to tell you exactly where the bison/buffalo were taken. We sighted a variety of deer, but not near enough to get pictures through a bus window.

So about all I have are a few bison and the burros; the burros are  not native to the park but added entertainment as they love to snitch treats, especially carrots from tourists and occasionally nip you, if you are not watching. We were not otherwise allowed off the bus, as the wildlife, especially bison are dangerous and temperamental.

All I had heard was prairie rattlesnakes, and so I stayed within the confines of the rules laid down for our safety.

Bison is the correct word for the species that roam America's prairies. Because they resembled African and Asian buffalo, early explorers  (and myself) called them buffalo and the misnomer became interchangeable with bison. Bison have a large shoulder hump.
Burro Begging For Treats From Tour Member
Custer State Park
In Custer State Park, the 2nd largest state park in the U.S., there are 1300 free-roaming North American bison. These bison were/are used in many movies.

Once a year there is an annual roundup, a great event that draws many tourists. The bison are tested, vaccinated, branded and some sorted out to sell at the annual auction. There is a video clip of the roundup at the link given for Custer State Park.
Baby Burro -  Custer State Park
I Thought Look Lethargic And Ill
The wildlife in both parks are relatively the same, but we saw more this particular drive in Custer State Park, which also had some impressive lodges providing a variety of accommodations and full service dining. There are campsites, camping cabins and several scenic roadways. I think the one we were using was The Wildlife Loop Road.

The amenities of both Parks are similar: hiking trails, climbing, bicycling, camping, campgrounds. The Custer State Park was nearer the town of Custer, which offers shops and other local color for tourism.

A tour director tries to choose a variety of sites, so the majority of the tour members will be pleased. However, controlling where wildlife will be at any given time of the day, is not easily determined.
Mama Burro Trying To Entice Baby With Carrot
To No Avail - Custer State Park

Other Burros Not Interested In Treats
Custer State Park

PHOTOS: Photography all by NitWIT

Please watch video at link for Custer State Park as well as read history. I wish we had not been so tired, because we were in still in Rapid City the day of the Buffalo Roundup.
The amenities of both Parks are similar: hiking trails, climbing, bicycling, camping, campgrounds. The Custer State Park was nearer the town of Custer, which offers shops and other local color for tourism.

A tour director tries to choose a variety of sites, so the majority of the tour members will be pleased. However, controlling where wildlife will be at any given time of the day, is not easily determined.

8 comments:

Nezzy said...

My dad had a Buffalo he bred to our herd of Angus cattle back in the seventies. Hence...Beefalow!!!

Hubs is amazed by donkeys and the Ponderosa support many of 'em. We just had a baby last month. Donkey that is! Heeehehee!

The Donkeys will protect the cattle from coyotes, wild dogs and other wild critters.

God bless ya and have yourself a remarkable day!!! :o)

Amber Star said...

The white faced burro just needs to be named "Buster". It just does.

Your trip was very interesting. My dad was in the CCC. He helped build Palo Duro state park and also worked on others. He loved working outdoors and it kept him fed when he might have gone hungry at home. I wish the government would or could do something like that now days. The program served several purposes and gave young people a sense of purpose and a skill they could use later.

I didn't make it too far when we were in San Antonio this past weekend, but it was ok. We stayed where it was 14 steps from the Alamo, so I made that pretty well.

Glad you are home and hopefully rested. It finally is cooling off some here for a bit. I intend to take a day off and rest some myself.

Arkansas Patti said...

Oh I love the Buffalo. They are so darn huge. How lucky that you got so close.
My neighbor has a donkey to protect his cows and what a gastly voice he has. It is amusing at a distance, not so cool 100 feet from your window.

Mumsy's Place said...

I would love to go there with all the animals. What fun it would be to visit. I think buffalo are some of the most interesting animals to visit with. I just love donkeys. All of your pictures are just terrific. Hugs

Abe Lincoln said...

Patty and I have been there and to one place you should have gone to — Custer Battlefield — as it really shocked me, the Little Big Horn River is there, small and where the largest village of Indians has ever encamped. Custer lost his marbles there that day and the place he lost it is desolate, wild, free. It is a place where the wind blows without having to bend or curve around something. It is eerie and quiet. I never saw one buffalo on our trip. Not even in captivity.

We also visited the famous Wall Drug Store. I suppose you got there.

I enjoyed your post today. I love buffalo and wrote a book about it that was all hand done and won an award. Buffalo and Indians.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I forgot. Use this link to see the new blog.

awordplace.blogspot.com

flowerweaver said...

Looks like you've had a wonderful and educational adventure! Hope that everything turns out OK with Luckie.

Liz said...

I hope that baby burro was okay!