Buffalo Roundup and Buffalo Arts Festival – Custer, South Dakota

buffalo roundup.jpgBuffalo Roundup and Buffalo Arts Festival – Custer, South Dakota

The way to see if you are truly a cowboy is to join in on the Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park in the fall of every year.  The cowboys, cowgirls and staff from the park saddle up and move approximately 1,300 bison to the buffalo corrals in Custer.  Here they are sorted, branded and given their necessary shots before determining which ones will be released back to the plains and which ones will go on the auction block.

Visitors to the area are welcome to join in by going to one of two viewing areas, one on the north side of the run and one on the south side.  Once you are in the viewing area you will have to stay there until the roundup run is completed because, although the buffalo are beautiful to watch, they are wild animals and therefore can be very, very dangerous.

There is food and vendors of other things available at both viewing locations as well as shuttle buses that will take you over to the corral following the roundup. You can also walk over, but the free shuttle bus is there for your convenience.

The number of bison rounded up depends on several things, primarily the weather.  If it has been a drought year the number of buffalo that will be returned to the plains will be less than if there has been abundant water.  The roundup is the management tool that is used to adjust the herd size accordingly.

There is also an Arts Festival with activities that take place on the Saturday and Sunday of the roundup.  This is prior to the actual Buffalo Roundup which is on Monday.  Enjoy a pancake breakfast, chili cook-off, art show and live entertainment.

Artists and craftsman from around the Midwest come to Custer for the roundup to showcase thier works.  There is ongoing Western and Native American entertainment for your pleasure.  See the Native Amerian dances or hear the cowboy poets recite their work.

The actual roundup begins at 9:30 a.m. so parking is open in the viewing areas from 6:15 a.m. until 9 a.m.  Bring your folding chairs, cameras, binoculars and wear appropriate clothing for the season and enjoy the experience.

Buffalo Handling: testing, branding and sorting will begin on Monday at 1 and run until 5 and will continue the whole week.

The older bulls are not rounded up because they are too dangerous to handle.

Here are some things to know about the buffalo that you may not be aware of: They are the largest land mammal in North American; can stand 6 ft at the shoulders and weigh over 2,000 lbs!
They have been clocked at speeds of 50 mph.
They paw the ground and raise their tail as a warning when they are angry.
They face straight into the storm, whereas domestic livestock face away.
Buffalo are dangerous and unpredictable so don’t, repeat, do not approach them.

13329 US HWY 16A
CUSTER, SD 57730

Email: Contact South Dakota Game Fish and Parks via email

Park Headquarters – (605) 255-4515

2011 date is September 26, 2011



    When is the buffalo run dates for 2009..? Thanks!!

  2. The Date for 2009 for the Roundup is Monday – September 28, 2009

  3. Nadine Wallack says:

    I’ll be traveling with my 84 yr.old mother from May 11-16th. We’re coming from the NY/Boston area. Any suggestions to see or be aware of other than the seeing Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave and the beautiful scenery?

    Thank you,

  4. The 2010 Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival will be September 27, 2010.
    Please be aware that they do not let people ride with the roundup under normal circumstances so you would need to contact the Custer State Park staff for informaiton about what is allowed and what is not.

  5. Make sure you stop and see the Crazy Horse exhibit. It is outstanding.

  6. anybody know anything about wheels west camp site

  7. David Hagen says:

    what are the dates of the 2011 and the 2012 round up. how much in advance should we make resveration for lodging?. thanks Dave

  8. Monday, September 26, 2011 is the roundup.
    You will want to make reservations as soon as possible since this popular event will quickly fill hotel rooms.
    The dates for 2012 are not yet posted.

  9. What are the dates for the 2012 Buffalo Round up?

  10. September 22-23, 2012