Wind Cave National Park

Stalactites in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
On a Wild Cave tour of Wind Cave National Park. (Stalactites are actually rare in Wind Cave, but it does have 95% of the world's known "boxwork" formations.)

When national parks go underground

Glittering frostwork and
Glittering frostwork and popcorn formations in Wind Cave National Park.
There are miles upon miles of underground caverns to explore in this vast complex under the rolling grassy prairyland on the south edge of Custer State Park.

In 1903, Wind Cave became the first cavern system in the world to be granted national park status (and only the seventh national park in the U.S.)

This is considered the densest cave system in the world, a 3D maze of a honeycomb with more than 140 miles of explored passages—and an average of four new miles being mapped each year.

There are ranger-led cave tours at least once an hour in summer (four to six times a day in the off-season)—but I highly recommened the Wild Cave Tours offered at 1pm (daily mid-June to mid-August, then weekends only though Labor Day).

These four-hour explorations let you lead the way, off the path and into caverns that sometimes even the guide has never seen before, lined with frostwork: glittering branches and spines of needle-like crystals.

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.