Wind Cave National Park
One of the world's longest and most complex caves in the world sits beneath one of America's oldest National Parks, Wind Cave and Wind Cave National Park.
This 28,000-acre park sits in the southwest corner of South Dakota and is well-known for it's unique 'box work' formations within the cave, as well as diverse wildlife above ground within its tall and short grass prairie 'ecotone' (2 ecosystems meeting together). During your visit, we suggest you start by walking around the Visitor Center, which will teach you all about the park, the cave, and the history of the land through various exhibits and films, then take a tour of the cave and hike on any of the 12 trails above.
The cave is named such due to the barometric winds experienced at the entrance. There are vast chambers within like the Post Office and Elks Room, and several different 'speleothems', or cave formations, to see throughout. These various formations are created when water drips through the soil and limestone and reacts with carbon dioxide, making it acidic. The process over time releases excess calcium from the rocks, causing the different formations. In Wind Cave, you will see box work, as mentioned before, as well as popcorn, frostwork, dogtooth spar, flowstone, and gypsum features. You can see these formations up close and learn more about each of them through a guided cave tour, of which you have the following options:
- Garden of Eden Tour - Easy
- Natural Entrance Tour - Moderate
- Fairgrounds Tour - Advanced
- Candlelight Tour - Specialty Tour
- Wild Cave Tour - Specialty Tour - Strenuous
Aboveground, you will be able to hike any along the 30 miles of trails and catch glimpses of local wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn antelopes, and prairie dogs.