Every year an annual buffalo roundup occurs in Custer State Park in South Dakota. The event is popular and even the governor of South Dakota comes to watch the cowboys herd the buffalo into a very large corral. The roundup happens every year the last weekend in September or the first weekend in October.
The cowboys start to herd the buffalo at 9:30 in the morning and it usually ends about noon so it does not take very long for them to get the thousand or so buffalo into the holding pens. As a spectator you will find that you will be sitting and waiting to see anything longer then the actually event. You should show up early as they close up the road at 9:00.
We planned on arriving early but found ourselves in a large traffic jam for over an hour. This is to be expected since about 700 vehicles crowd onto only two roads that take you to the roundup. You can ether take hwy 87 to the Wildlife Loop Road and view the buffalo on the south lot or you can take 16A to the Wildlife Loop Road and do your viewing on the north lot. Any way you see it you will find it amazing. We chose the north lot since it is easier to get in and out of but many people find the south lot better since the herd actually swings around you.
On the north side you get the buffalo headed right toward you before they are corralled. The ground thunders and dust flies from more then a thousand buffalo hooves pounding by the place you are watching from.
When you see the buffalo roundup dress for the weather since you will be outdoors for more then an hour. The buffalo will be herded rain or shine. Luckily Custer State Park does not have a lot of rain but it can get cold or hot. Watch the weather to see how you should dress for the event.
Bring a chair if you like. We chose to sit on the ground and found it comfortable but you need to watch out for buffalo droppings since the buffalo live there and go where they please. You may want to bring your own snacks and something to drink. Food and drinks are for sale on both the north and south lots but with so many people attending you may find the lines long. You may also want to keep your fluids down since they have restrooms but again with so many people the lines are very long.
As you wait for the buffalo to show you can talk to the people around you. Everyone is happy and having a good time but children may find the wait long. If you bring your kids you should have something for them to do while they wait. The soil is sandy so some toy cars may be fun to have. Small travel games or even a coloring book and crayons can help your kids to be happy. If you forget to bring something for the kids to do then find a few small stones and let the kids play with them in the sandy soil.
The Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park in South Dakota can be a very spiritual experience that will give you some good memories. You can read more information at http://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/events/buffalo-roundup.aspx.