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2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 4; Wind Cave National Park

The morning after arriving in the Black Hills I headed about 18 miles south of Custer on US Route 385 to Wind Cave National Park.






This blog entry is the fourth in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  The previous entry can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 3; the long road to the Black Hills

Given that all the Jewel Cave tours were full the previous day I made sure to show up early to the Wind Cave given they were also on a first-come/first-serve system.  Luckily it was a nice day out in the prairies south of the Black Hills with pleasant morning weather just off the side of US 385.





The Wind Cave was the first cavern based National Park anywhere in the world when it became the 7th U.S. National Park in 1903.  The Wind Cave system was first discovered by white settlers in 1881 and is currently the 6th longest known cave system at approximately 140 miles of explored passageways.  The Wind Cave is mostly known for having about 95% of the known calcite formations called boxwork.

The first two photos I'm to understand were the initial entrance used by settlers to enter the Wind Cave.  The third photo if I recall correctly was the first man-made entrance to the Wind Cave.










The modern Wind Cave entrance is a wide doorway that descends a large stairwell.





Out of all the cavern based National Parks (excluding National Monuments I haven't been to) the only one that doesn't require a tour is Carlsbad Caverns.  I suspect the boxwork formations are a likely target for theft and vandalism.







After leaving the Wind Cave I headed north on US 385 to South Dakota State Route 87 on the Needles Highway.  My path back north through the Black Hills was through Custer State Park.  The next entry on SD 87 can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 5; South Dakota State Route 87 and the Needles Highway

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