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Custer state park is home to a heard of 1500 wild buffalo. Up until this morning, we had not seen even one of these majestic animals. So at 5am we packed into the jeep and headed out on safari. After about an hour of searching the back hills of the park, we stumbled unto a group of about 120 buffalo. I am not gonna lie, it was a little scary. These things weigh 3000lbs and can run at 35 mph. We tried to keep a safe distance and got some great pics. After watching them play, fight, run, and graze for about an hour, we decided to move on. Now this is where things got interesting. The logging road that we were on funneled us into a narrow valley where we quickly found ourselves surrounded by another group of large bison. This time, a safe distance was not an option. We could not back out or turn around. We were forced to drive our way right through the middle of the heard. At times we were only feet from these beasts. Some were growling there discontent at us as we eased by, but luckily none decided to ram us, which apparently happens very often. We lived to tell the tale without a scratch on us or the jeep. They call this place the American serengeti, and there is no better way to describe it. I have never seen so much free roaming wild life anywhere. It is truly spectacular.

 

custer state park

Today will be our last day in Custer State Park. I was hopeful that this place would be a real treasure based on some recommendations from friends. I was not let down. This is not your typical state park. Everything about this park is very thought out. The roads are placed not to provide ease of access, but to ensure the most scenic passage possible. Roadside trees are kept trimmed not to impede views of meadows where the wildlife gather. If Walt Disney had ever tried his hand at civil engineering this is what his work would have looked like. I don’t want you to get the idea that this place is completely manufactured, because it is not. It is however enhanced for the better. The wildlife is natural. The granite spires were all God’s work. The pine trees, steams, and rolling hills all were here long before former Governor Peter Norbreck designed the state park.

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Last night we took the long and winding Needles Highway to Mt. Rushmore. I hate to admit it, but I think we all enjoyed the scenic drive more than MT. Rushmore. Sylvan lake was breathtaking. I hope to get back up there later today and do some fly fishing with the boys. MT.Rushmore was just as you would expect. Some big heads carved out of granite. Yes it was impressive, but we tend to enjoy more natural spaces. We prefer National Parks over museums. Walking over driving. And God made over man made. Maybe a time will come when the cathedrals of Europe call to us, but for now it is only the call of the wild. Click HERE to read about our second trip to Custer.

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