Plan your Visit to
Wind Cave National Park
True Beauty Throughout
These protected landmarks are among the last places to enjoy the world from a truly natural setting and if natural beauty is what you seek then Wind Cave National Park has exactly what you need.
When to go
May – June – July – August – September
Geological Formations – Wildlife – Hiking – Scenic Drives – Bird-Watching
Wind Cave National Park is located in South Dakota and is among the older national parks in the national park registry. Founded in 1903, this 33,847-acre park may not be the largest national park you may have ever been to, but the over 600,000 visitors each year prove that size is not always the marker of success. Wind Cave National Park is among the few national parks that evokes beauty both above the surface and beneath it, so you are sure to find the beauty you seek when visiting.
One of the main draws for visitors to Wind Cave National Park is the caves themselves. Throughout the park there are many caves and rangers lead regular guided tours into them for guests. The tours allow guests to see places that are virtually untouched by modern human life. The tours offered are distinguished by the difficulty level of the tour so picking one based on your physical ability is very easy. Tours also fill up fast and are limited to the number of people who can be within each tour group. It is best to arrive early to the park so you have the ability to pick the best tour for you and your family. Tours begin at the visitor’s center that is open from 8am until 4:30 pm.
Stuff for the Kids
Some national parks seem to only have activities geared toward adults, but Wind Cave National Park has fashioned a program that allows for the younger set to get involved with the park. If your travels lead you to the park on any Tuesday and you have children between the ages of 3 and 12 you can allow them to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. The rangers take them on specialized kid only hikes through the park as well as through certain areas of the caves. Parents of small children can hike along with the group in case the child needs help getting through the tour as small children often need to be carried through parts of the tours. The best part about the Junior Ranger program is that it is completely free.
Popular Hiking Spots
No trip to any national park would be complete without a family hike into the wilderness and Wind Cave National Park contains over 30 miles of pristine hiking trails that are conveniently ranked to ensure that everyone finds a hike that suits their physical needs. Easy hikes are between one and two miles without rough terrain. Some of these hikes include Rankin Ridge and Prairie Vista. For a little more strenuous hiking adventure, moderate hiking trails take visitors over hills and valleys for 4 to 5 miles. There are only two moderate hiking trails within Wind Cave National Park, Cold Brook Canyon and Lookout Point.
The expert hiker will enjoy the strenuous trails within the park. They take hikers on over 6 miles of high intensity trails. These hiking trails include. Centennial, Highland Creek, and Sanctuary. For any hike that you choose to go on, make sure that you have plenty of water. Wind Cave National Park rangers recommend that you bring at least 2 quarts of water per person to keep from possible dehydration. Where there are rivers and streams that run throughout the park, there are no sanctioned water reservoirs for guests so what water you bring with you will be the water you have for the duration of your trip.
Things to Know
Wind Cave National Park does not charge any entrance fees for visitors to enjoy the park. They make their operating budget primarily from cave tours and camping fees. The cave tours are on a first come first serve basis, so arrive early enough to get with a group. Prices range from $10 to $30 depending on the duration of the tour. Children’s tickets are on average $5 to $6 and children 5 and under are free.
Camping in Wind Cave National Park should not be missed. The fees are generally $9 for a primitive campsite and $18 for campsites that have more amenities. Camping in the park gives you a unique opportunity to view nature from a different standpoint. A view of the sun coming up over the hills while you sip hot tea on the prairie is truly a remarkable experience.