Our epic adventure this summer included a trip to Vegas for a music festival, followed by hiking in Utah and then off to South Dakota to spend some time camping with my family. We camped in Custer State Park, which is really pretty and a huge park (it takes about an hour to drive out from the interior of the campground).
My parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew went to the Wildlife Loop the night that we came (we were a little too late to join them) and they raved about how cool it was. They got to feed the burros (big donkeys), saw some prairie dogs and encountered some buffalo. So of course, this topped our list for what we needed to do while we were in the park.
The next night, we went out (my mom, niece and nephew) to get our own taste of the Wildlife Loop. We started down the loop and it was a a really quiet and pretty night… and we saw our first buffalo!
The next stop was to check out the prairie dogs, which were being their normal cute selves (I kinda have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to prairie dogs because I got bit by one at a petting zoo when I was a kid).
Then we saw the burros. And they saw us.
Oh the burros.
We had a HUGE bag of carrots and they were loving life… who cares if their big noses were all the way in to our car.
We even made a brief detour to stop in a field to get up close and personal with a few and their babies… they are so cute and friendly!
Then we encountered the antelope, which look really weird when you get up close. Their eyes are actually directly under their horns and it just looks strange when you are a few feet away.
Now we started hearing from my mom and nephew about how they saw SO MANY BUFFALO by this point the night before and that we weren’t going to get to see any (I think it was about a 45 minute drive). I was starting to get a little bit bummed and then we saw them… all on a hill.
There was a dirt road veering off to the right, so we decided to take it. And suddenly, it was a traffic jam and buffalo were EVERYWHERE.
It was all fun and games, until there was this ginormous buffalo that was running down the hill to the left, coming straight for our car. Meanwhile, my nephew — being his tween self — is hanging out the car, yelling at the buffalo while I’m yelling at him to stop and my mom is hysterically laughing. Oh, my niece was near tears at this point because she thought the buffalo were going to attack and we were freaking out about getting gored by a buffalo in the rental car. THIS would have been worth videoing.
Anyways, the buffalo. He’s charging… and at the last minute, like 10 feet from our car, suddenly makes a quick turn to go around our car. PHEW.
At this point, we’ve all seen enough buffalo and are ready to hit the road.
But… that’s not going to happen. Because there is the rest of the herd that needs to cross the road. And we are in a traffic jam, in the middle of a field, in the middle of South Dakota.
After the longest 10 minutes in my life, the rest of the buffalo cross (minus one or two that seem to be the rebels of the herd) and we are able to turn around and start driving back to the campsite.
SO we’re talking about how we thought we were *thisclose* to being gored by a big ol’ buffalo, turn a corner and see this HUGE buffalo on the side of the road with two cars in front of us. And this buffalo isn’t happy. The buffalo stomps his foot, does some weird thing with his head and looks like he’s about to charge the car in front of us. That car drives away and we’re stuck, stopped in the road, with this buffalo just staring at us… snorting and licking his lips like crazy.
We’re all freaking out at this point, and my mom says to just drive on the other side of the road really slow to get around it. Meanwhile, I apparently yelled “nobody make eye contact” and I’m pretty sure we didn’t breath for the million seconds it seemed to take to get past the buffalo.
And then the next day we went into town to some trading post. We asked the woman (who was a local) what it means when a buffalo stomps, snorts and licks his lips and she was like, “oh he was ticked”… and continued to tell us how there are “tons” of buffalo gorings each year in the park but nobody knows. She said that it doesn’t take much and they’ll get angry, chase after someone on the side of the road or a vehicle.
Needless to say… I had enough bonding time with buffalo to last a lifetime. 🙂
Have you ever seen a buffalo up close and personal? Been to the Wildlife Loop?
What’s your favorite wild animal?
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