The Wild Donkeys of Iron Mountain, Black Hills

by Chance James 8 months ago in america

"Beware the Mule..!" they said. But our experience was different...

The Wild Donkeys of Iron Mountain, Black Hills
These Wild Donkies Mean Business - Watch Your Belongings..! - Photos by: Chance Buell

Black Hills, SD - The Wild Donkey??

Oh, let me tell you a story my friend. A story of the Wild Donkeys that roam these lands.

For generations, these wild beasts have sought after man to steal the food right from their hands. Wandering the Black hills in hopes of stumbling across the unsuspecting traveller in an attempt to pillage what they see fit.

The Donkey families are the legend in these hills. A legend we were about to find out about all too soon.

My Friends....

This is our encounter with the Wild Donkey of Iron Mountain...



Let me share of the time that led up to this peculiar encounter, for it is worth the story.


'Twas a beautiful day, with radiant sun mixed with the aroma of mountain pines and subtle tones of natural life mingling around. We headed toward iron mountain, hoping we would have the chance to spin around the area's famous 'Pigtail Bridges' that remarkably was the choice for wrapping up these gentle mountain roads.

A series of these bridges were lined with tall pines and aspens and a variety of other types of trees and growth. The wood constructed bridges wove around itself exactly like it's name - a Pig Tail.

Snapping a few pictures we stopped and read a little history of the interesting structures and a few extra facts.

The Pigtail Bridges - Black Hills, SD

The Pigtail bridges wrap around themselves

Solid Wood Construction

Stop the car, stretch your legs and get a little educated.

Cool Views on the Pigtail Bridges of the Black Hills

Black Hills, SD - Pigtail bridges make for great photo opportunities

Onward through the Hills...

Driving around this spectacular road was about to get a little more interesting.

After driving throughs some pretty cool tunnels that fit barely more than your car, (honk before you enter), we cam upon a sight to behold.

"Do You See That..?"

Through the tunnel appeared to be a familiar site

"Through the tunnel...?"

"Are those faces...?

There They are..

Faces appeared through the Tunnel

Mt. Rushmore framed through the Tunnel

As a car drives toward, They were the faces of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson on Mount Rushmore, SD - Photos by: Chance Buell

It Was Mount Rushmore!

It was just George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson on the front Mount Rushmore - Phew!

We though it might be giants. So we moved on... Through the great hills that led us to a point a vantage. We could see for miles, and as you can see, Mount Rushmore stood proud in the distance. Standing prominently amongst the Black Hills, telling about our country's great history.

The Rushmore Overlook - It's a Good One..!

Panoramic view - Mount Rushmore to the right of the photo stands tall in these hills. Rushmore is the far right white mountain.

The long view across the valley of the Black Hills shows Mount Rushmore carved into the white Granite rocks

Mount Rushmore National Memorial


...and snapped a photo from another angle. Notice the Entrance and Park centers in the foreground. Millions of visitors tour Mount Rushmore every year, and they got a pretty good breakfast!

Mount Rushmore: Mt Rushmore National Memorial, 13000 Sd Highway 244 # 81, Keystone, SD 57751-4404, USA

Mount Rushmore was completed in 1941. Calvin Coolidge oversaw the project when in Rapid city visited with James Buell & Family at the Buell home, ancestors of photographer Chance Buell.

Moving On down Iron Mountain Road

After a few moments of walking around the trees and sitting on the rocks that scattered the hills, a few pictures later we moved on. Around each bend was great scenery, new critters to watch scurry about, and a number of areas to stop and gaze at the beauty of the hills.

Passing by a couple of farm properties, small creeks and brooks create an elaborate ecosystem sustaining the cycle of life for the Black Hills. We started to notice a few Buffalo meandering about, with their own agenda, looking for an afternoon snack or some fresh dirt to wallow around in for a bath.

As we came around a turn that led gradually down out of the dense trees, we spotted some larger animals on the road. Unlike others, these creatures seemed undisturbed by passing traffic, even attempting a full body block on some family tourists' minivan just enjoying their drive.

There was nothing we could do...

He looked at Me... I looked at him..

There we were...

We were stopped in the middle of the road, face to face with the legendary donkey. He wasn't moving anywhere - at least not without seeing what we had in our picnic basket first...

.. and We were in awe!

Never, I tell you - Never have we seen this before!

And it wasn't just this silky brown coated burro, No, there were many!

Without care, these lazy donkeys bumped into one another for a closer look at the new visitors who seemed to excite the herd a little. They moved closer to the vehicle.

In the near field a Buffalo ducked his head, peering over the tall grasses, eagerly waits to see what would happen next. Did he know something...?

It was a Stand Off..!

Donkey -- Me -- Donkey - we looked at each other for awhile.

Why was he Peering..?

This Wild Buffalo took cover from the donkeys in the Black Hills eyeing the scene through the grasses

The Encounter

"Here they come!"

"Roll up the windows...!"

Too late - we ducked back and away as they rudely poked their donkey heads into the vehicle looking for whatever good donkey snack you may have brought. It's a good thing we heard about these legendary donkeys so we may offer a health, yet savory snack.

"Give 'em the Graham Cracker.." I pleaded. The lappidy tongue emerged, and like a hand itself, wrapped that cracker and smiled with a donkey smile as it nibbled up the new bounty.

Give them what they want..!

"Lappidy, lap, mmm, mmmm - me thanks you"

Like it or not - they were coming in..!

"What's that you got there....?"

We offered whatever snacks we had - Graham Crackers seemed to hit the spot

Getting the Gusto..!

After realizing that these donkeys may have a friendly side, we wanted to get out and have a little one on one time with a few of them. Y'know, ask those tough questions and really get inside the mind of a donkey.... Right :)

I opened my door, stepped out slowly, separating the large burro with the car door. He stared at me through my open window, checking me out, like I was checking him out.

Let's Mingle...

So after making sure all was good to go, and seeing a few families with little kids petting the donkeys outside the car, I stepped into the middle of things.

Feeling the weight of the donkeys push up against you positioning themselves for the snack was unique and a few times, questionable. I tried to make sure I stayed on the outside perimeter because they seemed to have a knack of surrounding you.

It was great, they had character. We petted and spent a few minutes just being a part of the experience. White ones, brown ones, spotted ones. About a dozen showed up on this day, but we hear there are more, and we plan on meeting them in the future...

We braved it out...

Donkeys surround Amanda - sometimes with a little bumping and nibbling and hee haaawing - Watch out!

Amanda emptied her pockets for these guys - They wouldn't have it any other way.

"Hey There Little Guy.."

Chance made friends with one of the Wild Donkey Little Ones

One of a Kind Experience

Amanda enjoying the Wild Donkeys - Black Hills, SD

Bring Enough - or Know When to Leave

As first timers - we didn't know that their mood would change when you ran out of what they wanted. They should be called more like the 'Pirates of the Black Hills'.

After my supply ran low and I wanted take a few more pictures, a few of them teamed up on me and gave me a little nibbling chase down looking for more of those yummy graham crackers, which I had none to spare.

And although they seemed harmless enough and caused us no harm, I was unwilling to find out how a couple of competitive, hungry, wild donkeys would act trying to get another bite.

So we hopped back in the car and moved on...

WHOA There..!!

Amanda got pushed around by these donkeys , seems as if they know when you are close to being out of the yummies...


Motorcyclist enjoy their Donkey Stop as they tour the Black Hills

Oh Give Me a Home...

Really couldn't have asked for a better day traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota in our car because a few more miles down the road, we were treated with another delight.

A herd of Buffalo were grazing right next to the road. And, Yes, while you could reach out and touch them, I highly recommend against it. These large, unpredictable animals, although rare, are strong and ferocious. Today, they were beautiful.

Families, with baby buffalo looked us on as we slowly drove by. Cars staggered along the roadway were snapping what I'm sure are proud photos to show their friends and families.

But let's face it, it's hard to miss a great photo opportunity in the Black Hills!

Where the Buffalo Roam

A Buffalo herd grazes in the meadows of the Black Hills, SD

The Buffalo are literally that Closer than they Appear


Baby Buffalo learn how to survive in the pack


No, Really - I mean it... Thanks! Help us out so we can send you our next adventures of the world we live in !

Chance James
Chance James
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Chance James

Chance travels the world around, bringing out the light in life. With a Positive Influence in the journey ahead, the people around feel the influence only Chance can give..!

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