So, back to my journal of our road trip!
We had pitched our tent at a campsite that Fodor’s National Parks of the American West listed that was free. Why not, right? I’m so glad we did. It was rugged but not completely outside of my comfort zone, but that might be partially attributed to the fact that we were surrounded by other campers. The best part was to come.
Throughout the night, I was woke up a few times because of the coyote/wolf pups yipping and howling (my guess is, in this area, it was coyotes) which I didn’t mind since I’m used to that from back home. I didn’t think that we’d have too many problems with animals since we were part of a larger campground.
The next morning, I got up just as the sun was rising, which is even earlier than it does at home, due to the difference in time zones. I left the tent in search of the restroom, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. When I came out of the restroom, I didn’t see anything. At least, I didn’t see anything until I heard them.
In this picture, it’s a bit hard to tell, but this bull bison was literally strolling through our campsite, ignoring all of us. He was a LOT closer to us than this picture makes it appear. I was in total shock and awe, and that’s when I noticed that not even a quarter mile away, the rest of the herd was just waking up for the day. Around our little circular campground, several other huge males were also taking their dear sweet time grazing and rolling around in the dirt. This was what I had came here for; not to see animals behind fences at a zoo, or stuffed at a natural history museum, but living, breathing, doing their own thing right next to us without barriers. It was magical. (And, at times, a bit scary… but since the males weren’t in “the rut”, I was less afraid of them becoming aggravated and charging at us.) I totally absorbed it all. I’m sure that people who live here get tired of bison and just ignore them after awhile, but I love bison. They are just so HUGE.
As our bison encounter came to an end, we packed up our tent and set out on the road again. We still had a lot of ground to cover before we made our way to our next stop: Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills (which, on a clear day like this one, you could actually see the silhouette of them both from Badlands). On our way through and out of Badlands, we saw a LOT more bison, mule deer, turkeys, pronghorn, and the big horn sheep ewes and kids.