Wildlife Viewing, Animals & Bird Watching | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota

Wildlife Viewing, Animals & Bird Watching

Prepare for plenty of impromptu encounters with the animals of the northern plains and mountains in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.

Be on the lookout for bison, deer, pronghorn (commonly called antelope), bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, elk and more.

From buffalo jams in Custer State Park and prairie dog town in Badlands National Park to mountain goats grazing in Spearfish Canyon and elk herds in Wind Cave National Park, it's easy to spot native species throughout the region.

Remember to always watch wildlife from a distance.

Where to Spot Wildlife in the Black Hills & Badlands


Custer State Park is home to approximately 1,300 bison — the second-largest public, free-roaming herd in the U.S. Your best chance for seeing these animals is on Wildlife Loop Road. The 19-mile road winds through prime sighting spots in the southeastern part of the park.

Badlands National Park’s herd of over 1,000 bison is easy to spot in the northern unit and is one of the largest federal bison herds in North America.

Wind Cave National Park has a herd of over 500 bison. They are often seen roaming the wide expanse of Bison Flats, located along Highway 385.

Bird Watching

With over 200 species of birds common to the Black Hills and Badlands, it’s easy to spot native species to the western plains and mountains.

Delight in finding local mountain bluebirds, black-billed magpies, fearless little nuthatches, busy water ouzels, flamboyant Western tanagers or impudent jays. From wild turkeys to tiny wrens, the changing seasons bring new visiting and resident birds. You may also spot some of the great raptors: bald eagles, golden eagles, turkey vultures, prairie falcons, and many types of hawks and owls.

Use the Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Birding Trail map for your next outing.

Get Outdoors with these Wildlife Viewing, Animals & Bird Watching Events