Visiting Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park is 1/63 National Parks (as of 2022) in the United States. It’s located in western South Dakota near Rapid City. In the late summer of 2022, Teddy and I did a 13-day road trip through Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming stopping at all the National Parks along the way. This was the first time for both of us to visit Wind Cave. We’ve been to other caves like Mammoth Cave National Park in KY and Luray Caverns in VA, but not yet to any in South Dakota.

Getting There

Wind Cave is located 11 miles north of Hot Springs South Dakota and 22 miles south of Custer, SD.

Fees

There’s no fee to enter the park, but if you choose to take a Cave Tour, you’ll pay for that. The National Parks pass doesn’t give you free access to a cave tour.

Hiking

There’s a few different hikes in the park that range from 1 mile to just under 9 miles. Rankin Ridge (1 mile) and the Wind Cave Canyon Trail (4 miles) are two of the more popular in the area. There are also a few dog friendly hikes to check out as well.

Wildlife Viewing

See prairie dogs, bison, elk, pronghorns and burrowing owls in the area. We were able to see a few bison, pronghorns, and big horn sheep right on the border of Wind Cave and Custer State Park.

Cave Tours

There’s a few different cave tours you can do that range from 1-2 hours. The most popular are the Garden of Eden Tour, Natural Entrance Tour, and the Fairgrounds Tour. All cave tours are ranger led meaning you’re not able to explore the cave on your own. I’d recommend purchasing your tour online prior to the date you plan to visit so you are able to get one of the spots on the tours available. Otherwise you will have to purchase in person the day of the tour.

If you’re looking for other things to do within a few hours of the area, check out Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, Jewel Cave, Big Horn National Forest, Devil’s Tower National Monument, or Badlands National Park.

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