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Category: NPS  Listing Date: 2010-08-15

Wind Cave National Park

This Wind Cave presentation was prepared for the Western Dakota Tech / National Park Service Plus 50 Class Rapid City South Dakota.
Wind Cave National ParkWind Cave National Park

Located about 11 miles north of Hot Springs on highway 385, Wind Cave National Park is approximately 28,300 acres. With in the park, along with one of the world's longest caves, you find plenty of grass land, ponderosa pin, and abundant wildlife. Inside of the cave you find large deposits of boxwork that is made up of calcite crystal. The crystals look like old time mail boxes. Thus the name boxwork. The prairie surrounding the cave is home to elk, pronghorn (often mistaken for antelope), elk, coyotes, deer, and prairie dogs. The Black Footed Ferret was recently introduced back into the park. The Black Footed Ferret cannot survive without the prairie dog, which is the main stay of its diet.

It is believed that the wind whistling from the cave is what first lead to its discovery. Undoubtedly the natives of the region were aware of Wind Cave before it was officially recognize in 1881. Tom and Jesse Bingham are credited with the discovery. Daily tours are now available although it's a good idea to call ahead for reservations.

At the cave visitor's center there are images and artifacts of the cave as well as the surrounding park. These include maps of the walking trails, antlers, bones, and radio colors used to track the elk within the park. A film about the cave and park is available in the visitor's center theater and the book store has many books and other educational material. A snack and vending area is also available.

Jewel Cave, the third longest cave in the world (July 2013), is also located in South Dakota.

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