Riding alongside wildlife in Custer State Park
The Black Hills are a beautiful and great place to go riding. The twisting roads, winding trails, tree-lined streets become a blur of greens and browns underneath the bright blue South Dakota sky. The granite archways and tunnels swallow you up before you hit another exciting turn and get a view that’s even more beautiful than the last. The beauty of the Black Hills is endless and nothing beats experiencing them as the wind blows in your face on the back of a motorcycle. The Black Hills was meant for motorcycle riding.
The Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park is a favorite with riders from all over the world. Ride alongside wild buffalo as the run across the South Dakota plains. Buffalo ain’t all either. In addition to the over 1,300 free-roaming buffalo, a ride through the Wildlife Loop means you’ll also be getting up close and personal with elk, big horn sheep, mountain goats, pronghorn antelope, as well as white-tail and mule deer. As you cruise through the park, you’ll be riding right alongside these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Exhilarating doesn’t even begin to describe the experience. You want to make the most out of your Wildlife Loop ride, so here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Riding alongside these animals means you've got to play by their rules. They like early mornings and late afternoons, which means you'll have the best experience without the crowds.
- Give yourself plenty of time for the ride. You'll want to take your time and take in every aspect of the park and get the most out of it. There is plenty to see and you'll want to experience every twist, turn, and expansive straightaway you can.
- Because it is a wildlife park, the animals are free roaming, meaning they can walk right up to your bike if you want. Riding alongside these animals is a wonderful experience, but you're also in their natural habitat. Always be aware of your surroundings throughout the ride and leave the daredevil moves for another time. Avoid being chased and charged by taking it easy and slow as you go through. Loud pipes may excite or agitate them, so be cautious. If you don't hurt them, they won't hurt you.
The meandering Wildlife Loop will take you through massive valleys with hills surrounding you. As you continue on the road, you'll wander through the valley, over rolling hills, through gullies and off into big sky country. The hills and two-lane road makes for riding that can truly be a life-changing experience. Catching the sunrise or sunset as you make your way through the Black Hills and the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop is truly breathtaking. Don't forget to pack your camera or attach a GoPro on your head to really take it all in.
As you come to the end of the Wildlife Loop, it'll bring you back to SD-87 and you have the chance to go north back into the heart of the Black Hills with sprawling views and scenes you've only seen in movies.
Head south and you'll enjoy even more of the park. The wide roads give way to a little more freedom with sweeping corners that take you through towering trees and hills before you're spit into the pigtails and switchbacks of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.