The first set of animals we saw were a collection of rams sitting in the shade between Legion Lake and the visitor center. It's a little hard to pick them out in the picture due to the lighting, but there were about half a dozen sitting there.
Take a break at one of the pullouts to view these granite peaks that poke out of the forest. There are more trails to get closer views, but we didn't have an opportunity to try them. These are just east of the Sylvan Lake area.
Our trip through the park started in the Northwestern section of the park, so our first stop was Sylvan Lake. There is an opportunity for paddleboat/kayak rentals during the season. If boating isn't your thing, there is a short trail you can walk along the lake where you can take in the very blue water and some of the surrounding rock formations. The trail is supposed to be a loop around the lake, but we got blocked off about halfway around the lake and had to go back the way we came.
Buffalo abound in this state park. Therefore, if you have never seen a buffalo and it has been your lifelong desire to see one up close--make haste for southwest South Dakota. They are plentiful and it is impossible to take a drive of any length without bumping into quite a few of these fellas.
The Needles are a series of bizarrely shaped granite or basalt pinnacles that are located just beyond Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. If you enjoy rock climbing, they offer quite a challenge. If you don't, you can watch those who do enjoy risking their valuable necks.
Spend some time in Custer State Park in the south central Black Hills.
Custer State Park is a huge expanse of forested real estate that has, among other things, one of the largest herds of buffalo (a.k.a. bison) in North America. These huge wooly beasts are an extraordinary sight as you drive along the roads in the park. During the August rut they usually congregate in large numbers in little canyons and meadows that most visitors never see. If you're there then, ask one of the rangers at the Visitors' Center for the the most up-to-date sightings.---
There has been an effort over the past thirty or forty years to breed these animals for their meat. It's very lean and much lower in cholesterol than beef, but has a slightly gamey taste. To get around this problem, they have been successfully crossed with various breeds of beef cattle, creating something called 'beefalo'. You will often find 'buffalo burgers' on the menus of local restaurants.
Photo: A two-ton American Bison grazing in Custer State Park
Drive thru Custer state park and see the wildlife. You can pay the fee and have acess to more areas of the park or follow the hwy bypass and see a few.
So it's your choice, either feed the prairiedogs or disturb them--but you can't do both.
Just kidding--the "Don't" part of the sign didn't find it's way into the frame.
It's not just animals that make this park worth the drive. The scenery is very nice with rolling hills, pine forests and lots of grassland for the hooved animals.