It’s time for the Buffalo Roundup in South Dakota’s Customer State Park! And this year you can watch all the action online. This exciting annual event takes place on Friday, September 25, at 10:30 a.m. Central Time.
I had the privilege of being part of the Buffalo Roundup in 2014. Standing in the bed of a pickup truck, I rode alongside the cowboys and cowgirls as they cracked their whips. The ground shook as the thundering herd of 1,300 bison kicked up dust. I felt like I was in the midst of a western movie. The Buffalo Roundup is by far the most memorable experience as a travel writer.
Read on for my close-up encounter in the Buffalo Roundup and to get an idea of what you’ll see when you watch online on September 25.
Thank you to Travel South Dakota for the complimentary stay during the Buffalo Roundup week.
Gearing Up for the Buffalo Roundup
Bumping along in the bed of a pickup truck, standing and hanging onto the rack with one hand, shooting photos with the other, we bounced over the hilly terrain in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. The aroma of sage filled the crisp air on the late September morning as our group of travel writers rode in a caravan to the starting point of the annual Buffalo Roundup in the park’s pastures.
2020 marks the 55th year of the Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park, the event in which citizen cowboys and cowgirls round up most of the 1300 head of buffalo (technically American bison) that roam the park and move them to corrals for annual vaccinations, pregnancy tests and sorting.
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An estimated 15,000 bystanders come to watch the action each year, standing on hills and using binoculars to watch from a distance. I had the privilege for the 2014 event of being right in the action amidst the horse riders and bison.
Once we got to the starting point, we hung around during last-minute preparations.
It was estimated that 1100 bison were rounded up that morning. A couple hundred were rounded up a few days prior, so they could start the vaccines on the day of the roundup, allowing the public to watch from a grandstand. (Bison are given a couple day rest between being rounded up and the testing/vaccine procedures.)
After the roundup we sat down to a chuckwagon barbecue and baked bean lunch, a perfect way to round out the roundup experience.
If you go to the Buffalo Roundup
The 2020 55th anniversary Buffalo Roundup is scheduled for Friday, September 25, in Custer State Park, 13329 US Hwy 16A, Custer, South Dakota. Entrance to Customer State Park is free on the day of the Roundup, but there is a fee for meals. Check the web site for event details.
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