Wind Cave National Park Facts

Wind Cave National Park Facts
Wind Cave National Park is a 52,886 square mile park located in Custer County in South Dakota in the United States. The park is located 10 miles from Hot Springs, and was designated a national park in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, making it the first cave to gain national park status in the country. The inhabitants of the region when the European settlers arrived, including the Cheyenne and Lakota Natives, knew of the cave but no evidence exists that anyone had yet entered it. In 1881 the cave was first documented by settlers when they heard wind blowing from a hole in the ground. Mining was explored but it became more ideal for tourism.
Interesting Wind Cave National Park Facts:
One of the features that makes Wind Cave National Park so unique is the formation of calcite in the cave called boxwork. Wind Cave is home to 95% of the (known) boxwork formations in the world. Boxwork looks like honeycombs or boxes in a pattern projecting from the cave.
Wind Cave National Ark is also known for frostwork in the cave, which looks like frost yet is made from delicate crystals.
Native Americans consider the cave to be sacred.
The first people to notice the cave entrance and document it were Tom and Jesse Bingham in 1881. Jesse said that when he bent over a hole that was blowing air it blew his hat right off his head.
In the late 1800s when it was determined that the cave was not suitable for mining, land owners began offering tours and a hotel was built.
The land was withdrawn from the homesteading claims and mining claims and reverted to the government in 1901.
There have been more than 142.75 miles of cave passages mapped in Wind Cave National Park. This makes it the sixth longest mapped cave in the world and the country's third longest.
Above the cave the national park has 28,295 acres of prairies, pine forests, and a variety of wildlife species.
While the caves of Wind Cave National Park are a huge draw for tourists, they can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Visitors are advices to wear proper shoes as the cave floor can be wet and slippery. Those with heart problems, lung or breathing problems, claustrophobia, or recent health problems are advised to avoid exploring the caves.
Mammals and other wildlife found within Wind Cave National Park include bison, elk, cougars, coyotes, badgers, red foxes, pronghorn antelopes, minks, prairie dogs, bobcats, ferrets, skunks, and rattlesnakes.
Birds that can be found in Wind Cave National Park include woodpeckers, meadowlarks, snow gooses, wood ducks, gray partridges, wild turkeys, turkey vultures, ospreys, mallards, and many more including a large variety of migratory birds as well.
Visitors to Wind Cave National Park can camp, hike, bird watch, go horseback riding, go on cave tours, and camp in more remote locations.
There are more than 30 miles of trails to hike and explore the forests, trails, and grasslands above ground in Wind Cave National Park as well as the cave trails underground.


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