We had another awesome day exploring Wind Cave National Park. Hidden beneath the rolling prairie of the southern Black Hills is one of the world’s longest caves. When you arrive, all you see is the Visitor Center, the cave is hidden below.
The drive to the cave was incredible, we saw swaying prairie grasses, forested hillsides, and an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, and another prairie dog village. Wind Cave is one of our country’s oldest national parks and one of its few remaining intact prairies. Secreted beneath is one of the world’s longest caves, Wind Cave. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this complex labyrinth of passages contains a unique formation – boxwork.
American Indians of the area have known about the opening to Wind Cave and the winds that move in and out of it for centuries. It is a sacred place for many tribes. In 1881 Jesse and Tom Bingham were also attracted to the cave by the whistling noise of the air coming out of the cave. As the story goes, wind was blowing out of the cave entrance with such force that it blew off Tom's hat. A few days later when Jesse returned to show this phenomenon to some friends, he was surprised to find the wind had switched directions and his hat was sucked into the cave. Today, we understand that the movement of the wind is related to the difference in atmospheric pressure between the cave and the surface. The first person reported to have entered the cave was Charlie Crary in the fall of 1881. He claimed to have left twine to mark his trail, and others entering the cave later found his twine. These early explorers were the first to see a rare cave formation called boxwork.
We signed up for a tour when we arrived and had to wait about an hour. We took the Garden of Eden Cave Tour, it entered the cave by elevator so we didn’t have to walk so many steps. This 1-hour tour is the least strenuous tour. It is a wonderful sample of Wind Cave. Small amounts of all of the beautiful cave formations - boxwork, cave popcorn, and flowstone - are seen along this ¼-mile trail.
I had a hard time taking pictures with the small amount of light in the cave, I did the best I could. I am also adding a few pictures from the National Park site showing better pictures of the unique boxwork, cave popcorn and flowstone. It was another incredible day in South Dakota, check back later for more.