Just 8 miles south of Rapid City, SD is a great family attraction called Bear Country U.S.A. This wildlife park allows visitors to drive through the park while the animals roam free. The 3-mile road meanders through the park allowing visitors to view rock mountain elk, reindeer, arctic wolves, bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, rocky mountain goats, timber wolves, miniature donkeys, buffalo, and black bears up close. We’re talking right outside your car close. We’re talking lock the windows so no one accidentally opens the windows.
The kids loved seeing all the animals up close. The best part of the drive, of course, is seeing the black bears right up next to your car. The 160-180 bears who live at the park are so well fed that they are pretty bored with the cars going through the park. It was very cool to see them walking around going about their business.
At one point a wolf and two bears were having a disagreement over something. We couldn’t tell what it was about. After scolding the wolf, the bears turned to walk away, suddenly the wolf bit one of them in the butt. The kids thought it was hilarious.
After completing the loop visitors end up in Babyland which is like a small zoo. Displays in this section include a beaver, woodchuck, skunk, porcupine, beaver, raccoon, mountain lion, lynx, red fox, and coyote. The best part of this Babyland is the bear cubs. When we visited in early June, there were 21 baby bears in the pen.
Bears are taken from mothers at about 6 weeks, the bears in the pen were 4 months old. When born, the baby bears come in 6 shades of brown. Baby bears are hand feed for two months. They stay in the pen for about a year and are then moved to an adolescent pen for 2 years. They are then sold or incorporated into the bear population.
We could have stood there and watched the baby bears all afternoon. They were so cute running after each other, wrestling, playing, biting each other, and standing on their hind legs fighting.
The park also includes a gift shop and snack shack. Restrooms are located in the gift shop and outside. The Babyland area is stroller friendly.
Admission for the six of us was $55. We paid the maximum vehicle amount. Although a bit pricey, the kids loved it. They say it was one of the best things we did on our trip. I say this is a must-see attraction for the Rapid City area.