Custer State Park and the Buffalo Roundup

This past weekend, my wife Pam and I headed to Custer State Park near Rapid City, South Dakota for a photo excursion. I had heard and read about the great wildlife at the park from other nature photographers and had to check it out. When we were planning for the trip, Pam mentioned that she heard from a friend about the Annual Buffalo Roundup at the park so we planned our visit to coincide with that event. The roundup took place on September 26, 2011. The weather, event and wildlife all cooperated for a wonderful trip. If you enjoyed western movies as a kid or perhaps the movie Dances with Wolves as an adult, this was the weekend to be at Custer State Park.

The day started early and afforded us the opportunity to watch the sunrise over the grassy rolling hills of the park. Upon entering the viewing areas, friendly staff and volunteers directed us to parking areas that were filling up with vehicles of all sorts. Some of the spectators arrived at the park by 4:30 am even though the parking areas were not going to open until 6:15 am. We grabbed our photo equipment and folding chairs and headed out looking for a good vantage point to shoot from. The viewing areas were alread 5 and 6 people deep when we arrived at about 8:00 am but fortunately I spotted a media only area that had a great view.

There are no grandstands or bleachers to sit on, only prairie grass and buffalo chips. You had to be careful where you stepped and sat. The sky was clear and sunny and the crowd swelled to over 14,000 before the drive began at 9:30am. Then, off in the distance coming across a hill was a swarm of what appeared to be ants. The excitement grew as the huge herd of buffalo headed down a draw, around some small hills and then headed towards us. The sounds of bull whips cracking and riders yelling announced the arrival of the herd. Those riders were having the time of their lives driving the herd.

The images I attached to this blog are of the roundup and then some additional wildlife images I took at the park. I hope I captioned and identified them properly. If not please let me know.
Click on the images to enlarge them.

Yee Hah!!!!
Waiting for the drive to start

Part of the crowd at the south viewing area before the drive.

The herd appeared and flowed over the hill. 

The leading edge of the herd approaching.

The riders were having a great time
4 wheel drive vehicles aided the riders in rounding
 up the buffalo that did not want to follow the herd.
2011 Flag Bearer Phil Randall. Looks a little like Kevin Costner?
Flag bearer riding in front of our viewing area.
A rider looking for action.
Riders turning the herd.

Prairie Dogs


 Bighorn sheep

 View of the park

 A young Pronghorn
Mountain Bluebird


  1. Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. Am glad the weather cooperated and you were able to secure a good spot. Welcome home;-b

  2. Hi Al I have been looking through your photo from the round-up..Some great shots for sure..I'm planning a trip there this Sept. and was wondering if I could get some advice..First do you know what the earliest one can park. Did you have to have a pass to set-up in the media only area? Never been to this event before so any info you would give me would be most helpful.It looks like you might have used a 500mm 0r 600mm lens I don't have one I have a 400 with a 2x..thanks for your help..


Post a Comment

Popular Posts