Where to See Wildlife in the Black Hills

If you are planning a vacation and need a bunch of family-friendly activities to keep your group occupied, look no further than the Black Hills of South Dakota. There’s a little something for everyone here, but one of the best things about the Black Hills is the abundance of incredible wildlife.

Just down the road from many of our Black Hills cabin rentals, there are several breathtaking state and national parks that you simply have to see to believe.

You will find unmatched views of the area’s most stunning animals.

antelope in SD

Bear Butte State Park

Bear Butte State Park near Sturgis is a favorite destination for bird watchers, but there’s a lot of wildlife to see on the ground, too. Head up to the 4,426-foot summit to see four states at once! While you’re walking around, you’ll be in a sacred spot that has been valued by many Native American tribes for hundreds of years.

As far as wildlife, one big attraction here is bison. While there aren’t too many, they are incredible to observe but make sure you’re watching from a distance and not trying to approach. You can also spot prairie dogs, coyotes, deer, antelopes, rabbits, and more.

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park, located near Hot Springs, has grown over the years to become one of the world’s biggest caves. More than 150 miles of passages have been discovered to date! But you can come here for more than just the cave; you’ll also want to explore the 28,000+ acres of mixed-grass prairie and Ponderosa pine forest.

The mixed-grass prairie here is one of the last on Earth and provides homes to spectacular species like coyotes, prairie dogs, mule deer, bison, elk, and pronghorn. As always, be sure to observe these animals from a distance, but when you can spot them from afar, they’re just as majestic as you might imagine.

Custer State Park

Custer State Park spans over 71,000 acres of the Black Hills for some of the most abundant wildlife and activities in the area. Many people visit Custer State Park to participate in watersports, go camping, or learn about the historical significance of the site. However, if you’re looking for wildlife in the Black Hills, this is the place to be.

custer state park

If it gives you an idea of how awesome the animals are here, Custer State Park has been named as one of the World’s Top Ten Wildlife Destinations! You’ll find everything from bison and elk to burros, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, wild turkeys, birds, and so much more. This is a spot you definitely don’t want to skip if you love animals.


Badlands National Park is located near Rapid City and is home to one of the world’s richest fossil beds. This park is truly secluded, as you can look around and see nothing but land for miles and miles. It’s definitely worth the trip, however, with stunning views all around and some unbelievable biological diversity.

Here, you’ll find the largest mixed grass prairie in the National Park System. Animals like mule and whitetail deer, coyotes, butterflies, bison, and more roam the land, but bird lovers will truly thrive here. Try to spot species like eagles, hawks, vultures, and bluebirds. 

Spearfish Canyon

Finally, Spearfish Canyon will probably look familiar to you if you’ve ever seen the film Dances with Wolves. The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway takes you through absolutely breathtaking scenery and puts you in the middle of South Dakota’s beauty. 

The roadside attractions along the route include Roughlock Falls, Iron Creek (for some awesome hiking), and Spearfish Canyon Lodge. While you’re exploring, expect to see mountain goats, squirrels, porcupine, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, bald eagles, and more. If you visit in the fall, you’re in for some of the best views you’ve ever had!

Plan Your Black Hills Vacation

Black Hills nature simply has to be seen to be believed, and the wildlife at these locations will take your breath away. Best of all, you can reach any of these destinations with a quick day trip from our rentals. Contact us today to browse rentals and start planning your vacation!