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Tour Wind Cave National Park on Your Next South Dakota Camping
Established in 1903, Wind Cave National Park was the seventh National Park created in the system and the first park that included caves. This long and complex wonder is best known for its display of boxwork, which is a rare cave formation that closely resembles honeycomb. Wind Cave National Park also contains one of the last mixed-grass prairies left that is home to many animals ranging from bison and elk to coyotes and prairie dogs. This beautiful and diverse park is a terrific South Dakota camping destination.
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Wind Cave National Park is open year round, save for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. There are no fees to enter the park, although there is a cost for the cave tours. Winter tends to be cold and snowy. March sees the most snow while January is the coldest month. Temperatures begin to warm up in spring, although high winds can add some extra chill. May is the wettest month of the year. Summer is warm with highs around 90 degrees. Thunderstorms are common, although by August they are much more infrequent. Fall days are warm and pleasant while nights are cool. Snow doesn’t usually begin falling until late October. The temperature inside the cave is 53 degrees year round.
Once you reach Wind Cave National Park, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure because the park protects two very distinct natural features. One lies beneath the ground, the other is a sunlit mixed-grass prairie. Cave tours are offered daily, except for the three days the Park is closed. All tours begin at the visitor center. All tours into the cave are ranger guided and are on a first come, first served basis. Long waits should be expected during summer. The best time to visit during the peak summer months is in the earlier hours of the day as there tends to be a much shorter line for the cave. There are five distinct cave tours, ranging from the Garden of Eden Cave Tour suitable for the whole family to the far more challenging adult-only Wild Cave Tour. The Historic Candlelight Cave Tour allows you to explore the cave by nothing but candlelight, much like the early explorers who first wandered into the amazing cave. Above ground, there are over 30 miles of hiking trails through mixed-grass prairies and ponderosa pine forests. You can hike along an established trail or set off on your own adventure. Along the way, you will very likely meet some of the Park's inhabitants ranging from prairie dogs and pronghorns to bison. With so much to see in this truly diverse park, it is a terrific South Dakota camping destination!
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