12 Animals We Saw in Buffalo Gap National Park While Camping

Buffalo Gap National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota and is a place of seemingly endless peace. The entire amount of land laid out before me was not crowded with people speaking loudly to be heard above the other visitors. When you are standing on top of the badlands, you can see for miles as the land meets the horizon.

Personally, we love visiting in late fall.

We camped here for 2 weeks and were pleasantly surprised with the amount of wildlife once can see if you really look. Here is what we have seen over the last few times we’ve gone there.


Buffalo Gap National Grassland is a place of open space, but the land is not completely devoid of trees. In fact, the area contains one of the largest bison herds in the country.

The bison aren’t just found on the grasslands; they also live in parts of the Badlands and can often be seen grazing along highways and walking through towns like Interior.

Prairie Dogs 

The prairie dogs are the first thing you see when you come to Buffalo Gap National Park. They’re right there, outside the visitor center, in a little prairie dog town.

The park is home to a small population of black-tailed prairie dogs. These rodents are an important part of the grassland ecosystem. They eat insects and their burrows help with water infiltration and control erosion.

Prairie dogs are also food for many other animals including badgers, coyotes and hawks.


Buffalo Gap National Grassland is home to a wide variety of wildlife. The prairies and savannas provide habitat for many species, including the pronghorn.

Pronghorn are the fastest land animal in North America and can run up to 60 miles per hour. They are also one of the most agile animals on the continent. Pronghorn have been known to jump over fences and dive into burrows to avoid predators.


Badgers are a common sight in Buffalo Gap National Park, where they make their homes in burrows dug into the sides of hills. They are active at night and forage for food in the early morning and late afternoon.

Badgers are short-legged animals with small heads, short tails and short legs. Their fur is usually black with white markings on their face and back.

They have a large head with powerful jaw muscles that allow them to eat hard-shelled insects, small rodents and reptiles. These burrowing animals can be seen digging in search of food by day or night (usually between three p.m. and midnight). When disturbed, they will often run off into their burrows or dive into soft soil areas if there is no den nearby.

Black Footed Ferrets

Black footed ferrets are carnivores that eat mostly prairie dogs. They live in prairie dog burrows, called dens, and eat the prairie dogs that live there.

Black footed ferrets are endangered animals, which means they are close to becoming extinct. In the past, black footed ferrets were hunted for their fur and for the sport of trapping them. There are only about 1,000 black footed ferrets left in the wild today.

The Black Footed Ferret Recovery Program is working hard to restore this endangered species by breeding them in captivity and releasing them into the wild again

Bighorn Sheep 

Bighorn sheep are a very unique animal. They have large horns that they use to fight off predators, such as wolves and coyotes. They live in herds and the males are very protective of their young. The males also fight over females during mating season.

The bighorn sheep is an herbivore, which means it only eats plants. They eat grasses, shrubs, or any other plants they find in their habitat. The bighorn sheep has a very wide diet; they can eat over 200 different kinds of plants!

Bighorn sheep live in rocky mountains or deserts where there isn’t much vegetation to eat. During the winter months when there is snow on the ground, bighorns will migrate back down into lower elevations where there is more vegetation available for them to eat.

The bighorn’s fur coat consists of two layers: an inner layer of fine, soft hairs and an outer layer of longer guard hairs that protect them against the cold temperatures at high elevations and help keep moisture away from their skin during hot summer days in lower elevations.


Buffalo Gap National Park is home to a population of white-tailed deer. The park has no natural predators and the deer have no fear of humans. This makes it very easy for visitors to have close encounters with these animals.

The park has no natural predators and the deer have no fear of humans. This makes it very easy for visitors to have close encounters with these animals.

Visitors are encouraged to respect the wildlife and not feed or disturb them as this can lead to aggressive behavior and/or injury to people and pets.


Coyotes are a common sight in Buffalo Gap National Park. They are often seen near roads, campgrounds and picnic areas. Coyotes are not looking to attack humans; they are simply following their natural instinct to look for food.


The jackrabbits in Buffalo Gap National Park are one of the most popular animals to see. They have huge ears and large, round hind feet. Jackrabbits can jump up to 30 feet in one leap! The jackrabbits live in the desert and grassland areas of the park. They eat grasses, shrubs and cacti.

Red Fox 

Red Foxes are found in Buffalo Gap National Park. The red fox is the largest of the foxes and the most adaptable to different habitats. They can be found in both rural and urban areas, but prefer wooded areas with plenty of ground cover.


Porcupines spend most of their time in trees to avoid predators like bobcats and coyotes. They’re nocturnal animals that eat bark, leaves and twigs that they find on trees. Porcupines also eat plants growing on the forest floor.


Nighthawks are a large, dark brown-backed swallow with white underparts, a white rump and a long tail. They have long, pointed wings and short legs. The male has a violet-blue throat patch and the female has only a small patch of blue on the forehead. We saw them everyday in Buffalo Gap National Park.


Our camping adventures gave us a new appreciation for what makes the park so spectacular. From the many different plant species to the countless animals that roam the land, there is so much to explore at Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. We really do hope you will visit and let us know how your trip goes!

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