Courtesy of the National Park Service Visitors venture deep in the Wind Caves.

Family Vacations in South Dakota: Wind Cave National Park

One of the world's longest and most complex caves, Wind Cave was named for the eerie whistling noise that can be heard at its entrance. The caves were formed when limestone was deposited and consolidated on the inland seafloor about 320 million years ago. When the modern Black Hills began to rise some 60 million years ago, the limestone fractured, and water began to seep in and carve the labyrinth of dramatic caverns, tunnels, and crystalline artistry that you see today.

There are five tours of the caves. The Natural Entrance Tour is very popular among families with children. You enter through the hillside and exit by elevator. The tour provides an excellent opportunity to see boxwork, an unusual formation the cave is known for, which is composed of paper-thin calcite fins that resemble delicate honeycombs. Other tours go deeper into the caves but involve more stairs. Older kids and teens who want to experience real spelunking can don headlamps and crawl through the caves on special tours offered during certain months.

Ascend from Wind Cave and look to the heights -- on the next page, you'll find out about visiting Mount Rushmore.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • South Dakota State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in South Dakota, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives:For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.