Buffalo Trails Tour

At the center of the Northern Plains is a rugged section of Badlands, buttes and fertile grasslands where cattle and sheep graze, and the deer and antelope still roam. This region – bordered by the towns of Hettinger, N.D. and Lemmon, Bison and Buffalo, S.D. – is where Lakota and Dakota people conducted the last hunts of the majestic, wild buffalo that once roamed the grasslands in great herds. Click here to order your copies of trail companion books "Buffalo Trails in the Dakota Buttes" and "Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains" and start your journey with a visit to the buffalo mount “Prairie Thunder” at Dakota Buttes Museum in Hettinger. Click here for the TR to the Faces Tour of western North and South Dakota, from the North Dakota Badlands Badlands to the Black Hills' Mount Rushmore.

1
Grandest of Them All

Prairie Thunder at Buffalo Trails Museum stands 5 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and is 8 1/2 feet from nose to tail. He was judged at close to 2,000 pounds and his horns span 30 inches at the widest point.

400 11th St. S. Hettinger, ND 58639
2
LAST STAND OF THE BUFFALO 1880-83

Site where the American buffalo made their last stand in a remote and beautiful valley and others like it within a radius of 30 or 40 miles. We call this the Butchering Site because of the many buffalo bones found here.

10 miles east of Hettinger on Highway 12 Hettinger, ND
3
Hiddenwood Hunt 1882

The is where the "Last Great Buffalo Hunt" began on or about June 20, 1882, near Hiddwenwood Cliff. Hunters killed 2,000 buffalo the first day and quick-butchered them on the second. By the third day, the herd had not moved far and hunters killed 3,000 buffalo that day.

Hettinger, ND
4
SHADEHILL BUFFALO JUMP

The buffalo jump, an ancient hunting technique, took advantage of cliffs that commonly border creeks and rivers in the Plains. A successful jump depended on having a large number of animals. At the site, two layers of buffalo bones totaling 16 feet thick on the face of the cliff were clearly visible until World War II.

Lemmon, SD
5
LORE ON THE BLACKTAIL TRAIL

A nice place to consider the complex relationship between the buffalo and the native people who lived here. Blacktail Trail is a seven-mile walking loop with deer antlers marking the trail. Interpretive signs are along the route.

Lemmon, SD
6
RESCUING FIVE CALVES

This may well be the area where Pete Dupree and his family came with a buckboard wagon in early summer 1881 or 1882 to rescue buffalo calves. This noted rescue by Native Americans was likely here or within 30 miles of this beautiful grassland on the South Grand River.

Bison, SD
7
Slim Butte Hunts

Winters on the Northern Plains vary from snowy, windy and cold to sunny and moderate. The Slim Buttes are a very delightful place for reenacting history. Find a scenic p0lace where you might enjoy viewing buffalo - or joining the hunt and imagine riding with Lakota hunters.

Reva, SD
8
Viewing Behavior

You are welcome to stop along public roads to view buffalo, which are large, strong, unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Admire from afar but do not approach. Do not enter pastures with buffalo or drive through gates without permission.

Reva, SD
9
Tribal Herds

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe owns around 250 buffalo in two herds. The north herd can usually be seen from Highway 1806 (also called ND Highway 24) on the road to Mandan, just south of Prairie Knights Casino.

Fort Yates, ND
10
White Cloud Dynasty

At one time, three white bison - White Cloud, Dakota Miracle and Dakota Legend - could be found in the herd at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown.

500 17th St. SE Jamestown, ND 58401
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