Based on what I’d read/heard, Wind Cave sells out fast, and it is best to reserve far in advance. So, based on a quick reading of the different tour types, we were going to make reservations for the Wild Cave Tour….
When I made the reservations she read to me all the disclaimers, what we had to wear, what we would be doing etc. One of the points was that you needed to be able to fit in a 3 feet by 6 inch space…. I was a bit skeptical and called my dad, we then decided for our first real cave spelunking experience we would instead try the Candlelight tour. We would experience the cave in the same atmosphere as the original explorers.
There were no cameras or any electronics allowed on this tour. The Candlelight Tour traverses a less developed, 2/3 mile, rugged trail. Each tour participant got a bucket with a candle (electric because the wax ones would blow out often) which would light our pathway through the cave.
Some rooms we saw on this tour include: Blue Grotto, Council Chambers/Dinosaur Room, Elks Room, Fallen Flats, Pearly Gates, Summer Avenue, and Temple.
Many, many, many years ago limestone built up under water, which eventually seeped in, picking up carbon dioxide along the way. This acidic water dissolves the limestone and eventually drains out of the newly formed cave. As water drips through the cave it creates the cave formations we now get to experience.
The Lakota tribe lived in the area and through their oral history we know that their emergence story into this world begins from Wind Cave.
Some Key Points in Wind Cave National Park’s History:
- 1890 – Alvin McDonald explored Wind Cave by candlelight
- 1903 – Wind Cave National Park is established
- 1913 – Bison from the Bronx Zoo are moved to the park
- 1968 – Calcite Lake is discover in the cave
- 2007 – Black-footed ferrets are reintroduced into the park
- 6th longest cave in the world
- Most boxwork cave formations of any known cave (currently houses 95% of the world’s boxwork)
- 143 miles explored
- 7 bat species
- Cave Formations
- Boxwork, Frostwork, Cave popcorn, Stalagmites, Stalactites
- Animals in the park grounds
- Coyote, Mountain Lion, Rabbit, Elk, Groundhogs
PEOPLE I MET:
Ranger Claire V
Claire was our guide for the Candlelight Cave Tour and was an AMAZING guide. When she found out what I was doing, she told me that she would show me around Green Bay, Wisconsin if I was there when her next semester of school started…. Stay tuned for the Wisconsin post to see if I met up with her again 🙂
With the lack of a camera inside the cave, this post lacks pictures, but believe me when I say it is work a trip to South Dakota.
I could still take the picture of my Jr. Ranger badge and souvenirs!
NEXT TIME at Wind Cave: I would like to do other cave tours. If I was feeling very adventurous I’d do the Wild Cave tour, but at the very least one of the tours that is more lit.