Wildlife Loop Road
Wildlife Loop Road in South Dakota is a MUST in our book. This loop is a beautiful 18 mile scenic drive amongst open grasslands, gulches and rolling peaks. This is truly fun for the entire family. We are very physically active empty nesters who typically are “on foot” hiking more than driving during our adventures but this was something even us active empty nesters LOVED. There were many families there as well as singles and couples on motorcycles.
What you’ll see
Within minutes of entering the loop, we started seeing pronghorn, deer, antelope and fields of yelping prairie dogs popping up out of their holes only to retreat again after a few seconds.
A short drive up the road we came across the famous “begging burros.” These burros were SO. Much. Fun. The wild herds would block the road and visit each vehicle’s windows looking for handouts. We researched the burros enough prior to our visit and were prepared when they came begging for handouts. We also wanted to feed them something decent so did a bit of carrot shopping prior to our visit and showed up with 5 lbs of carrots. After several burro heads coming through our open truck window for some snacks, we decided to park. After parking, we walked around feeding more. It was easy to tell which ones were the “boss” as they seemed to get first pick of the carrots. We tried to make sure to feed the smaller ones though too.
Going a bit farther down the loop, we saw a few bison which was incredible. Then, we rounded the corner and could not believe our eyes. BISON EVERYWHERE! In the road, licking the sides of the vehicles trying to drive through and walking alongside the vehicles. There were plenty of young following very close to their parents that was another highlight. This was truly an unforgettable experience.
We purchased a weeklong pass for $20 and enjoyed going here multiple times throughout our camping trip.
This is a popular tourist attraction so like anything, it’s best to have a plan before you visit.
What time is best
We have had amazing luck seeing animals just prior to sunset. Although we have never gone at sunrise, I have heard others state that they have experienced similar experiences during that time.
Although the begging burros will eat almost anything, I have a soft spot for them and really recommend feeding them carrots versus the nacho chips you have leftover in your backseat. Plus, there is a great grocery store in Custer that you can buy as many carrots as you want ( I would recommend bringing 5 lbs).
Other South Dakota recommendations: If you LOVE to hike and explore, I would highly recommend checking out the Sunday Gulch Trail in South Dakota.
If you want information on purchasing a state park pass, you can visit South Dakota State Parks