National Park Cliff Notes: Wind Cave NP – South Dakota



Wind Cave National Park is located in the Black Hills wilderness of South Dakota, just south of Mount Rushmore National Monument.


Wind Cave is touted as the largest maze cave in the world (yet discovered), and it hosts a variety of rare geologic formations with evocative names such as helictite bushes, dog tooth spar crystals, popcorn, frostwork, and, most rare of all, the fractured intersecting ceiling sheets called boxwork. The forested hills and prairie above Wind Cave provide habitat for wild bison, pronghorn, and prairie dogs.


Wind Cave Loc-19

Must See:

There are a variety of cave tours to choose from. On the Candlelight Tour (2 hours), guests are given individual lanterns before setting off to explore the northern cave depths through the Blue Grotto. Guests on the Wild Cave Tour (3-4 hours) are outfitted with helmets and expected to crawl, climb, and scramble through the narrow southern end of Wind Cave.


Off the Beaten Path:

There are more than 30 miles of above ground trails that lead through rolling forest and down into rain-stained limestone canyons. Consider hiking to Lookout Tower to view down Limestone Canyon, or hike the loop created by Centennial Trail and Lookout Point Trail. The section along Beaver Creek is strewn with bison hoof prints, cowpatties, and the occasional carcass.


Next Time:

I’d like to take the Natural Entrance Tour (1.5 hours) to descend down into Wind Cave. It’s the only tour that doesn’t take an elevator down into the cave, and the whistling gusts of cool air, for which the cave was named, still emanate from the original single-person-sized entrance.


For more information on my visit, check out my post.


Park Information:

National Park Service Website / Map


Google Maps Location

Cave Tour Rates







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