Before being hunted down to near extinction, bison or buffalo were roaming through America's prairies in the millions. Luckily, four places are left in North America where you can see free-range bison, and Wind Cave National Park is one of them. Currently, there are about 400 American bison at Wind Cave National Park, and the best time to see them is the rut season that lasts from June to September.
Bison feed on grass, so they can be easily spotted on the open spaces in the park. Look for spots with fresh green grass that attract the herds. On hot days they can also be seen on the edges of the forests where bison hide from the sun. Stop by the visitors center to get the most recent location of bison upon your arrival in the park.
Wind Cave National park covers 28,294 ac (11,450 ha) and features 30 mi (48 km) of hiking trails. The Boland Ridge Trail is known for its wildlife, especially, elk herds. Other good options include Elk Mountain Nature Trail, Prairie Vista Trail, and Rankin Ridge Nature Trail.
The park can be visited year-round. The best weather conditions for hiking are in the spring and early fall.
When is the rut season for bison at Wind Cave National Park?
Bison at Wind Cave National Park can be spotted during rut season from June to September. This is the best time for wildlife sightings along open prairies where bison feed on grass. Visitors can find the most recent information on bison sightings at the visitors center. Show more
Where can I go hiking to see elk herds in Wind Cave National Park?
Elk sightings can be enjoyed by hiking on Boland Ridge Trail, Elk Mountain Nature Trail, Prairie Vista Trail, and Rankin Ridge Nature Trail. Wind Cave National Park boasts over 30 miles of hiking trails where visitors are advised to wear sturdy shoes and take water. Show more
What type of weather conditions can I expect when visiting Wind Cave National Park?
Visitors planning a hike in Wind Cave National Park can expect a comfortable climate during spring and early fall. During summer, temperatures can go up to 90°F (32°C), and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Winter can be cold and snowy, so bring warm clothes. Check weather forecasts and park news before visiting. Show more
How many American bison can I expect to see at Wind Cave National Park?
Currently, Wind Cave National Park has approximately 400 American bison, and the herd is thriving. Bison frequent the open prairies and can often be seen grazing. To increase the chances of seeing them, visitors should go during the rutting season from June to September. Show more
Can I see any other wildlife besides bison and elk in Wind Cave National Park?
Over and above bison and elk, visitors can enjoy watching pronghorns, badgers, prairie dogs, and coyotes. Wind Cave National Park’s hiking trails spanning over 30 miles also offer a chance to discover unique flora and fauna. With activities for everyone, it’s a great place to visit. Show more