Monday, August 27, 2012

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

We were pretty excited to go to Wind Cave and check it out, since it’s known to have different types of formations than other caves we’ve explored. As mentioned in our previous post, we got caught in a bison jam at Custer State Park, so we didn’t get to the cave as early as planned (9am was the goal), but still got there around 10am and took the 11:20am Fairgrounds Tour. 

A bit about Wind Cave ~ discovered in 1881 by the White Settlers, used by the Native Americans prior to that as sacred ground, Wind Cave was established as a national park in 1903 ~ the first cave in the national park system. Currently Wind Cave itself is 138 miles – we say “currently” since there is still underground exploration to find new passageways. The name Wind Cave comes from the great gusts of wind coming out of the natural entrance (photo below) ~ and yes, this was the original entrance where people entered to explore the cave.

Wind Cave is known for three specific types of cave formations: popcorn, frostwork and boxwork.
These are the popcorn formations which is small nodes that grow in limestone caves – they look like popcorn, thus the name:

These are the frostwork formations which is needle-like growth (the darker images) that grown on top of popcorn or boxwork.

These are the boxwork formations which are thin blades of minerals on cave ceilings which intersect at various angles ~ this is the fame of Wind Cave. 

Finally, here’s a photo of the cave with no light.  :-)
We enjoyed the tour very much ~ cost of tours range from $7 - $9 per adult, but we again used our VIP card and our tour was free. Regardless, even if we had to pay, we could have gone on a Wind Cave tour. We plan to head to Jewel Cave in a couple weeks, which is a very different cave than Wind Cave, so it will be fun to compare the similarities and differences.
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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