Wildlife Loop Road
Wildlife Loop Road
4.5
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An 18-mile scenic drive in Custer State Park.
Meets animal welfare guidelines
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  • ANR_78
    Marion, Illinois727 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Saw the Buffalo
    Somehow, we visited at, what seemed like, just the right time. We were able to drive through at our own pace (without crowding) and experience the scenic, sweeping views and with the wildlife right up close. I don't think that I would ever go back to this part of the country (too many other places to see) but am very glad we visited here while in the area.
    Visited June 2022
    Written March 28, 2023
  • Randy
    3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Many Wildlife to see if you can't make it to Yellowstone National Park. Probably the next best thing in an 18 mile Loop.
    Rode my motorcycle out to South Dakota just for fun and stayed in the Black Hills. Did the 18 Mile Loop in Custer in the Wildlife Reserve on my first night there. I highly recommend either going at dawn or near dusk as this is when most of the animals are out. I am no expert by any means this was my very first time out but when I went back in the middle of the day there were far fewer animals out than in the evening. Anyway I even saw a mountain lion on my way back but not in the wildlife preserve. I was heading back towards Custer prior to getting on Rte 16 when a mountain lion came in front of me and remained just about 10 to 15 ft inside the wooded area next to the road. I came to a stop on the motorcycle just perpendicular to him and we both just stared at each other for several minutes. I finally left because neither one of us was doing anything so I decided to continue back since it was very cold out that night. Anyway I found out how blessed I was to be able to see this as many of the locals do not even get to see one. All in all I've been to Yellowstone as well and as much as I love Yellowstone and would never put it down in any way shape or form as it is truly magnificent I would say that if you can't make it to Yellowstone definitely make your stop in Custer as it was well worth the ride to see many different animal species. I saw a hundred or more Buffalo and large herd of elk also mule deer I think they were that I'm not sure and Mountain goats, and on my way out on my last day a white coyote. Of course there were wild turkey and regular white-tailed deer but I have those around my house and I see them everyday. So it wasn't very exciting to see them but all in all lots of Wildlife and a good time.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written May 9, 2023
  • Julie A
    Riverton, Utah34 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Don’t miss
    Beautiful drive around the loop. Make sure you go down the different dirt roads available to the public. We ran into four hundred or more Buffalo hiding out over a hill. The burros greeted us on a corner they all hang out. Great visitor center bathrooms were clean.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 3, 2023
  • Christina H
    Marietta, Georgia287 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Take this drive!
    Wanted to see the wildlife, so we took the drive. Didn’t see anything, so we stopped in to the Bison Visitor Center, talked to a ranger and told us exactly where to go to find Buffalo! We wouldn’t have seen any if we didn’t talk to the ranger.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written June 9, 2023
  • KarenM1_10
    1,084 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lots of animal sightings
    We arrived early and started our drive in Custer on the Wilderness Loop. Within a short period of time, we saw a Pronghorn and hundreds of bison. Some of the bison were quite inquisitive and wandered over to look in the cars while they were walking across the road. There were also many baby bison there as well. As we proceeded, we saw prairie dogs and burros. Someone from the park was there with feed and was handing it out to visitors to feed the burros. They were also very inquisitive and unwilling to move so traffic became a little congested. This was a lot of fun and a great time for families with children.
    Visited May 2023
    Written June 15, 2023
  • LeeCG68
    Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida25 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Where do all the buffalo roam?
    Yet again…no buffalo. Two days in a row. How nobody can know where all those buffalo are is beyond me! So why the high rating? It’s beautiful. Pass is for 7 days. Two days in a row I went and just drove it. (Loop is longer than you might expect, btw.) second day I got smart and brought a lunch. No wildlife to be seen, so I pulled off on a ridge, opened the doors, and just enjoyed the view. Nice new-ish info center with gift shop. Be prepared for just a beautiful drive, and if there are buffalo-it’s a bonus!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 1, 2023
  • Chris F.
    Fort Collins, Colorado273 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Interesting and fun stop
    I left another review for Custer State Park so be sure to check that one out as I have mor details on it. We absolutely love seeing the wildlife . This trip we saw lots of buffalo, many up close. We also saw the begging burros. What a fun time with lots of giggles. We highly recommend coming here. Please remember, these are not pets, and you can get hurt. Give them the respect they deserve, and all will have a good time.
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 5, 2023
  • Kelly F
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Bison and burros walked right up to our van! Highly recommend!
    The drive was beautiful. We had a group of burros (donkeys) who walked right up to our van and stood in the road. As we slowly moved forward they walked with us. We also saw a herd of bison, over a hundred, who were in the road and grazing. 2 males challenged each other. They also walked right up to our van. We stopped at the ranger station and asked where the herd was. If you don’t see them, stop and ask. Highly recommend!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 26, 2023
  • Jim
    New Smyrna Beach, Florida586 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great viewing of animals
    This was a great self driving ride through some nice scenery. The plus was getting to see “Begging Burros” and Bison. We also saw several Prairie Dogs and Pronghorns. There is also several areas to stop and learn about the area.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written August 2, 2023
  • Deb K
    16 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    If you want a zoo, go to Bear Country
    Be sure and ask a Ranger where wildlife has been recently seen. Whereas in the past we experienced bison blocking the paved roads, this time the herd had found a more secluded valley several dirt road turns from general tourist areas. This isn't a ZOO and animals do not appear on demand. Look around you and go out early in the morning or in the evening. We saw bison, elk, pronghorn. Of course, prairie dogs. And the beggar burros who can be quite aggressive for handouts. Please do not put your children in danger by treating the burros like pets unless you keep a spare.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 9, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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David S
5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
September 9 we took a drive on the wildlife loop from 5:20 PM until 7:30 PM.

My husband and I saw a wolverine towards the end of our drive. It was sniffing around the meadow grasses on the way into the pine woods about 10 feet away. But before it disappeared among the low branches, it had turned several times to look toward our stopped car.

At first I thought it was a small bear, but its body was longer, it had a dark long fluffy tail, and shorter legs. Its face and ears were bear like, as it turned its head towards us. It studied us at length one of the times it glared towards our car from about 100 yards away. We didn't get a picture of it sadly.

I didn't know what it was until I saw a stuffed one at Cabellas shopping two days later. Upon seeing the displayed taxidermy wolverine I exclaimed to my assisting Cabellas staff, "that's the animal we saw 2 days ago driving in Custer Wildlife
Loop!" It was labeled a wolverine.

We felt fortunate to have seen one in the wild, thanks to the safe wildlife drive.
Written September 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sandy P
California Desert, CA20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2020
First, I read some reviews and agree about the animals not being seen, but that is probably because they did what we did. There is a huge area where there are little buffalo and then there is another huge area where there are tons of buffalo. One thing I wish South Dakota would consider is putting up just a few signs telling people which way to go! We were so upset that we could not find our way until we bumped into someone who told us which way to go. AND, the area where the buffalo were was a lot less scary! No huge drop offs and tight, twisty, narrow roads! That would have helped to know! Regardless, drivers in South Dakota are the most awesome anywhere and we got lots of buffalojams as one person put it so we didn't miss seeing these exciting creatures! We will treasure our visit. Too bad the herds have to be thinned out unnaturally and sadly.
Written July 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

bigtyke
Greeley, CO7,710 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2021
This is my 4th or 5th time driving the Wildlife Loop. Everytime has been good, but this is probably the best. Other trips were in June and Sept. This was in late March.

We entered from the east side. Right near the entrance was a herd of 4-5 Bighorn Sheep lying by the road. We came across several small herds of Pronghorn Antelope. In one herd were several that had big bellies, indicating that they were pregnant.

Most of the buffalo were farther away from the road, but there were several within good viewing and photoing distance. In the meadow where we ususally see the most buffalo and they are on the road, there were just a few. We were the only car there and so we didn't stop, but slowly drove by. No other cars to run interference !

The begging burros were there and when the wife rolled down the window, their ears perked up but then they saw we had no carrots for them.

The highlight was a MOUNTAIN LION. Just ahead of us it came running from the side and ran across the road in front of us and down the valley. Boy, could it run fast. No time to get a photo, Darn!

While it is frequently mentioned in the SO\outh Dakota forum here on TA that the spring is not the best time to come to the Black HIlls, I cannot agree. There were very few cars and lots more wildlife. What I would recommend is that you make last minute plans to insure decent weather.
Written March 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Princerman
Otsego, MN910 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020 • Family
My wife told my kids that the first kid to point out unique wildlife would get $1. My wife pointed out a few Pronghorns early in our trip. About 30 minutes later, we saw a massive herd of buffalo. Little ones and big ones...EVERYWHERE. It was fun to have them walk alongside your car.
Written July 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DMSMD64
Chester Springs, PA507 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
I have ridden the loop dozens of times. I have seen Buffalo about three quarters of the time. The $20 it costs to enter the park is for 7 days so if you are unlucky the first time through, try another time of day or another day. The one down side of the park is that people seem to think its okay to stop in the middle of the road to take pictures regardless of whether or not there is traffic behind them. If you want to go slow or stop and take pictures, be kind and pull over.
Written August 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kirk D
102 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
The Wildlife Loop is always one of my favorite attractions when visiting the Black Hills. I am impressed at the size of the Bison herd.
We were able to find the Bison herd off the beaten path on one of the gravel CSP roads and the Begging Burros on another BSP road. Both of these were in the early afternoon. On the next day we got to the loop early and found two large bison herds on the Loop and the Begging Burros at one of the picnic areas shamelessly accepting snacks from the generous visitors. We also spotted many antelope, deer and Prairie Dogs.
Go early in the morning or later in the evening for best results and take snacks for the begging burros. They preferred carrots when I was there.
Written September 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TheKatz3
Oconomowoc, WI16 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
We had a beautiful day to be on the Wildlife Loop. We saw hundreds of buffalo and sat for a long time just watching. We went back the next day for the annual Buffalo Roundup. It was quite an experience to see riders on horseback rounding up the buffalo for their shots, etc. Also enjoyed seeing the donkey, pronghorn, deer......nice trip.
Written October 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sakflva
Arlington, VA679 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021 • Family
Great loop. We went twice. Both times saw Buffalo herds in the distance. The babies were so cute. We saw the burros as well. People brought food for them which clearly shouldn’t happen. They tried to feed the babies and it was clear they we still nursing but you know people they persist.
Written July 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Stephanie B
30 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
We are so glad we went on this. Our family really likes to look at the wildlife so we took our time as we drove through. We pulled over and let quite a few vehicles pass us. If you plan on just quickly driving through, you may not see anything. We saw prairie dogs, whitetail deer, pronghorns, burros, and Buffalo.
For the burros, we brought carrots along. I would recommend the full size carrots as the.burros grabbed those right away over the little baby carrots.
Written July 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rochelle F
Randolph, NJ1,046 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
This is part of Custer State Park and well worth it. They have put the buffalo in an enclosed area for the winter but we had good photo ops; we also did see a few that they managed to forget on the roadside.
There is an area where the donkeys come and if you bring an apple, you can feed them. We also saw longhorn sheep, prairie dogs. And hike Sylvan Lake that is fun too. Then go in to Custor town for lunch. The countryside here is amazing. Never knew there was so much to do in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Written February 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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