In movies and stories, the thunder of buffaloes crossing the American plains remains an iconic memory.
By the 1700s, tens of millions of buffaloes dominated the West and came close to extinction.
Fortunately, even today you have the chance to vibrate to the sound of the thunder of hooves on the rolling plains. The iconic Wild West animal still rumbles on the South Dakota prairies, and you can be there for the roundup.
Every September, park rangers and volunteer cowboys gather the buffalo herd in Custer State Park to give them their annual shots and to check the health and size of the herd. It is an event attended by 20,000 spectators from all over the world.
Custer State Park’s buffalo herd spends the year roaming freely in the fenced 71,000-acre park. Besides the buffalo, there are bighorn sheep, elk, deer, mountain goats, antelopes, coyotes, foxes and pumas.
The buffalo herd began in 1914 when the state purchased 36 buffaloes from a breeder. The herd grew and later the state purchased another 100 buffaloes from a Native American reservation. Today the herd numbers 1,450. The Roundup has been an annual event for 56 years.
The 110 miles of park also have extensive trails and scenic views.
In 2021, the roundup is Friday September 24, 2021, with activities starting September 23, 2021.
The American bison in numbers – (National Bison Association and US Dept of Interior)
* Estimated North American herd size: 385,000.
* Estimated size before 1600: 30 million to 60 million
* Number estimated in the mid-1880s: 700 to 1,000.
* Bison on tribal lands today: 20,000
* 2025 bison herd objective: 1 million.
* State with largest bison population: South Dakota, 33,000
* Oldest Bison Herd: Yellowstone National Park, 4,800. The herd has existed continuously since prehistoric times.
* Bison bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and are six feet tall.
* Baby bison are called red dogs.
* Bison run at 35 miles an hour.