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South Dakota Trails

Rapid City Blog: Custer State Park Safari

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We’re an animal-loving family, so we had a couple of wildlife excursions on our weekend docket. For the first, aside from what we’d seen and touched (and, there was the bull snake I held) at the Outdoor Campus West, we’d climb into an open jeep for a sort of safari through Custer State Park.

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While it’s more our style to hike or run the trails, the jeep would cover more ground, and we figured our tour guide could teach us some cool things about the area, and the wildlife that live there.

And I was right. When we came across some pronghorn antelope along the side of the road, we were told they can run 55- 60-mph, and are the fastest animals in North America. We spotted a bison lying at the foot of a tree, likely trying to shield itself from the weather, which was becoming increasingly chilly and damp. (I was kind of loving the cold on my face; it appealed to my adventurous side.) We heard a number of Meadowlark birds singing, which seemed like they were praising the weather.

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We reached a herd of bison, and watched mothers nurse their babies… before I realized my babies were getting too cold, and we had to turn the jeep around. My 4-year-old was buried in my lap under three wool blankets, and even my husband and I shivered and braced ourselves during the ride back. The cold made me appreciate the conditions the American Indians and early settlers endured in this landscape of rolling grasslands, as we rolled along paved and dirt roads. We saw a few more animals on the way back (I think) and ended in the lodge with warm drinks.

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We survived just fine, and called it an adventure.

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