This post is not really my idea, but it keeps showing up as a searched term in my stats, and because I have mentioned Roberts in a previous post, people keep hitting my site looking for information on it.
What is Roberts Prairie Dog Town?
It is *not* a tourist trap [don’t laugh, we get that question a lot!]. It is within the Badlands National Park boundary and is just north of the Sage Creek Wilderness on the Sage Creek Rim Road, a passable gravel road. Maybe 52 foot RVs would have some trouble on it, but every other vehicle is good. It is a large prairie dog town with lots of prairie dogs to look at. PLEASE DON’T FEED THEM!!! If you look around you aren’t going to see much water. Prairie dogs don’t drink water and so any human food they get could be their last meal before they die from dehydration. Crazy, eh?
Other animals that frequent the prairie dog town are bison, burrowing owls [too small to eat prairie dogs], and pronghorn. Some animals you might see in the town trying to get a prairie dog meal would be badgers, hawks, golden eagles, and if you are very lucky, black footed ferrets–North America’s rarest land mammal! Last year, there were 27 ferrets in Roberts Prairie Dog Town. They individually eat about 100 dogs a year.
Why is it named Roberts Prairie Dog Town?
Most of the prairie dog towns in the park are named. Some are after features in the landscape [ie Kocher Flats Prairie Dog Town] and some are after people that used to live in the area, like Roberts. I think the Roberts were a ranching family that had land just to the North.
What can you do in Roberts Prairie Dog Town?
You can wildlife watch. You can hike, although take precautions against the plague. It is passed through fleas, so don’t get too close to the dogs, don’t crawl in the towns, and spray bugspray around your ankles. Don’t handle dead prairie dogs or any other wildlife species and keep your distance from live ones. Also, bison love to scratch themselves on the posts near the pulloff for Roberts. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE!!! These are dangerous creatures that are rather moody and can inflict serious harm to people. If the bison’s tail raises, you are too close! You can also bird watch. There are generally lark buntings in the towns and if you hike up to some small ponds just north of the lookout, you can see all sorts of wading birds that you wouldn’t think would be in South Dakota, let alone in the middle of the prairie.
Alright, if there is anything else I should mention, let me know! I’ll add it!