Springtime has us thinking about warmer temperatures, budding flowers, and the fresh scent of rain. But one of the most exciting things that takes place in our area each spring is actually the presence of some new, sometimes wobbly, wildlife. Picture playful black bear cubs, fuzzy baby burros and clumsy bison calves. If you're in need of a vacation and witnessing baby wildlife ranks pretty high on your list - this is your season.
Just outside of Rapid City you’ll see the gates of Bear Country USA. Bear Country is home to the largest collection of privately-owned black bears in the United States. Each spring they welcome adorable new residents to their park. While the fan favorite tends to be the bear cubs, they also have a variety of other new youngsters joining the family like baby wolves, foxes, bobcats and more. These cuties can be found in Wildlife Walk, a portion of the attraction that can be found at the end of the drive-through park. Prepare yourself to spend a good chunk of time watching these heartwarming cuties play.
Forty-fives minutes outside of Rapid City you’ll find Custer State Park. If you’re heart didn’t completely dissolve after the cuteness overload of bear cubs, go ahead and kiss it goodbye now. This state park is home to over 1,450 free roaming buffalo, and when spring comes so do their clumsy, cinnamon-colored calves. It can be hard to keep your distance (but extremely important that you do) once you witness these fuzzy babes as they stumble and play amongst the herd. Custer State Park is also home to the friendly begging burros. If your window is rolled down expect it to be filled with one, maybe two burro noses, and their adorable baby side-kicks. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats are also residents of Custer State Park, though spotting them is less common.
Sixty minutes outside of Rapid you’ll find the entrance to Badlands National Park. In addition to the stunning terrain, the Badlands are home to a variety of wildlife that will add to the baby extravaganza of a spring visit. You’ll find the adorable faces of bison calves, along with the playful lambs of bighorn sheep and some timid fawns of pronghorn antelopes! Bighorn lambs stick with their mothers for a year to learn the ways of the land so you’ll most likely spot them exploring and playing along the many ridges of the Badlands.
Throughout the Black Hills National Forest in places like Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon Highway, and Iron Mountain Road visitors may get a glimpse of a mountain goat and their young offspring. While they tend to stick to places of higher heights, occasionally they can be seen roadside which adds some real excitement to a scenic drive through the hills. Keep your eyes peeled!
Springtime is a great time to visit Rapid City if the idea of watching bear cubs, bison calves, mountain goat kids, bighorn lambs or antelope fawns sounds like the best thing ever. Beyond the mentioned locations above, other great wildlife viewing and encounters can be found at locations like Reptile Gardens, Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument. It's important to keep in mind that no matter how cute and friendly these animals may seem, they are wild and keeping a distance of at least 100 yards is best for everyone.