Wind Cave National Park

Sightseeing at Wind Cave National Park

©2006 National Park Services At one time, 60 million buffalo spread out across the vast open land of the American West. Now, small protected herds, like this one at Wind Cave National Park, are all that exist.

Today unspoiled remnants of the original prairie grassland in Wind Cave National Park are difficult to find. However, the park does offer visitors a living vignette of this once widespread ecosystem. In this small but rich park, wildlife as diverse as black-tailed prairie dogs, coyotes, buffalo, pronghorn antelope, white-tailed deer, elk, western meadowlarks, and sharp-tailed grouse can be found.

Both tall and short prairie grasses blanket the park, which presents a gentle rolling landscape with miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. But underneath the quiet surface of the park is the true attraction: Pahsapa limestone, which has been dissolved and fractured into a cave system with a known length of 80 miles. The caves are unique in that, instead of traditional stalactite and stalagmite growths, there are a series of passages covered with much more fragile crystal formations.

Wind Cave National Park Photo Opportunities

Whether you're interested in detailed shots of Wind Cave's unique formations or want a panoramic shot of the Black Hills, you and your camera will find it all at Wind Cave National Park. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Garden of Eden: This one-hour cave tour is designed for those who want a quick but excellent sampling of beautiful cave formations -- boxwork, cave popcorn, and flowstone can all be seen here.
  • The Post Office: The first large room on the Natural Entrance cave tour, the Post Office has a ceiling that is covered with boxwork.
  • East Bison Flats: To get to this vista, visitors must hike across the rolling hills of the park's prairie. Upon arriving at East Bison Flats, you'll be treated to panoramic views of Wind Cave National Park, Buffalo Gap, and the Black Hills.
  • Frostwork Ledge: Located in the Fairgounds Cave, this ledge features outstanding examples of popcorn and frostwork.

In the next section, we'll focus on the formation and exploration of Wind Cave.