Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Onion Valley Road; former California State Route 180 to Kearsarge Pass

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Onion Valley Road from Independence west to Onion Valley near Kearsarge Pass.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Onion Valley Road was once signed as California State Route 180 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway.


Onion Valley Road is located west of Independence of Inyo County and is 12.9 miles in length.  According to pjammcycling.com Onion Valley Road begins at an elevation of 3,946 feet above sea level in Independence and terminates at 9,219 feet above sea level at Onion Valley.  Pjammcycling rates Onion Valley Road with an average gradient of 7.8% and lists it as the 6th most difficult cycling climb in the United States.  Onion Valley Road also includes ten switchbacks which largely follow the course of Independence Creek.  Anyway you look at it the route of Onion Valley Road is no joke and is definitely a test of driving…

Trans-Sierra Highways; California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass

Back in late October of 2016 I had a long weekend off which coincided with a warm weekend in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  That being the case the winder in the weather gave me a chance to finish some additional Trans-Sierra Highways starting with California State Route 4 over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass.  I would later return to Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass during the smoke filled summer of 2020. 

California State Route 4 ("CA 4") contains probably most infamous Trans-Sierra State Highway in Caltrans Inventory.  CA 4 from CA 207 in Bear Valley east over Pacific Grade Summit and Ebbetts Pass includes approximately 30 miles of one-lane highway which reaches gradients as steep as 24%. 
CA 4 is a 192 mile State Highway which originates at I-80 near Hercules of the San Francisco Bay Area and terminates at CA 89 in the remote Sierra Nevada Mountains of Alpine County.  CA 4 is probably the most diverse State Highway in California as it has; several freeway segme…

Horseshoe Meadows Road; former California State Route 190 and the legacy of the Lone Pine-Porterville HIgh Sierra Road

This summer I had an opportunity to drive one of the lesser known great roads of California; Horseshoe Meadows Road from Whitney Portal Road westward into Horseshoe Meadows of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Aside from being massive climb into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains the path of Horseshoe Meadows Road was once part of California State Route 190 and was intended to be part of a Trans-Sierra Highway known as the Lone Pine-Porterville High Sierra Road.


Horseshoe Meadows Road is located west of Lone Pine of Inyo County and is 19.7 miles in length.  Horseshoe Meadows Road begins at an approximate elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level at Whitney Portal Road in the Alabama Hills and ends at an elevation of 10,072 feet above sea level in Horseshoe Meadows.  Horseshoe Meadows Road is the second highest paved road in California only behind Rock Creek Road near Tom's Place.  Pjammcycling rates Horseshoe Meadows Road with an average gradient of 6.2% and lists it as th…