So We Got Stuck In A Bison Traffic Jam
With a herd of almost 1,400 bison I was expecting to see a lot of the giant beasts while driving the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. This 18 mile stretch of road located inside the park is the best place to view it’s wildlife.
We had traveled nearly 3/4 of the loop and had only seen one bison. We had seen a flock of wild turkeys, a herd of pronghorn and some prairie dogs. We also stopped and spent some time with “wild” burros which was a lot of fun.
We weren’t far from the main visitor center when we finally saw a large group from the herd. There were probably a couple hundred of them on both sides of the road. I’m assuming this might be a popular spot for the bison since there were some spots to pull off and safely view them.
There were a number of “red dogs” scattered among the herd and they were adorable. Baby bison have fur that is orange-red in color earning them the nickname of “red dog”. Most of the bison were grazing in the large field beside the road and only one would occasionally travel across. After taking a few pics we moved on to the visitor center.
Also this was the first time Everest has ever seen bison and the kitty had no clue what to think. While we were watching them from the side of the road his eyes were big as saucers and his ears kept popping up then laying flat.
He just stared out the windows not knowing what to think. One walked right by the truck not a foot away and Everest freaked. He ran into his litter box then less than a minute later ran back out and pressed his face against the window. Still don’t know if he was scared or mesmerized.
A small group of bison were hanging out at the visitor center as well. This group had many babies in it and we were much closer to them. We were standing on this little bridge that crossed the tiny creek there and multiple babies and mommies came up for a drink not 15 feet from us. It was very cool.
We had planned to hike a small trail there, but we thought Dexter would of freaked being so close to the bison and start baying at them for sure. We didn’t want him scaring any of the bison and maybe have one come charging. Pretty sure we would of been on the losing end of that battle. The decision was made to try the trail the following day.
After finishing up at the center we gave a bison hanging out in the middle of the parking lot a wide berth and got in our truck to continue our journey around Wildlife Loop. That’s when we got stuck in a bison traffic jam!
Just moments later we came across a large group just hanging out near the road. Some bison were making their way across, but some were just standing in the middle of the road looking around. A couple would make their way across the road and just when you thought you could drive again a couple more would start crossing. It went on this way for maybe five minutes. I think we moved a total of 10 feet.
Then I started hearing all this honking and saw a truck driving up the middle of the road toward us. It was an official vehicle for Custer State Park and he was trying to get the bison off the road so traffic could move again. After a lot of honking the last bison finally crossed and we continued on our way.
I wonder if that’s like an official job at the park?
So another bison traffic jam is in the books. I mean I think it’s a right of passage to get stuck in a bison traffic jam at Custer State Park right?
When we visited Badlands National Park last year we got stuck in two bison jams. Both only lasted a minute though and both only had a few bison in their groups. It was nothing like the group we got stopped by here.
If you find yourself stuck in a bison traffic jam don’t panic. Also don’t get out of your car and try to move them along or open your window and see if you can reach out and touch one. NEVER attempt to approach or pet a bison in the wild. Remember this is their home and you’re the one visiting.
Just sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing wildlife encounter you have been presented with. Snap some pics, take some videos and they will eventually move along so you can continue on your journey.