Located in Hot Springs, South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park is one of the world's longest and most complex caves. It is known for its boxwork formation, which is an unusual cave formation, making the cave look as though it is made out of honeycomb. Its amazing beauty, natural habitat and wildlife and the educational experience provided by visiting and touring the café, will leave visitors with a sense of awe and admiration for how the preserve and the cave interact and co-exist in the same ecosystem.
In addition to the wind cave, which remains at a constant 53 degrees year round, the park also contains a mixed grass prairie, which is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, coyotes, mule deer and prairie dogs. It consists of over 28,000 acres of land and is open year round to visitors except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Wind Cave Park offers a variety of activities for visitors, making it a perfect destination for any visitor. Auto tours, backpacking, nature walks, horseback riding, stargazing, camping and wildlife viewing are all available to tourists to the area. It has a visitor center that offers tours, park information, and three exhibit rooms which feature cave exploration, cave formation, early cave history, park wildlife and resource management, and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The cave also has features for children, such as the Junior Ranger Program for kids 12 and under. This program is taught by official park rangers and educates children about the park through educational programs. Those not able to travel to the park can participate in junior ranger activities online and become wind cave web rangers by visiting the parks website, participating in online activities and completing a quiz about the park. No prizes, but quite a lot of fun answering all those interesting questions. There is lot interesting to be known about the park!
The park was first discovered in 1881 by Jesse and Tom Bingham, who were drawn to the cave by the whistling noise the wind made going through the cave. Soon after it was discovered, several mining companies started up operations in the cave. The most notable of these was SD Mining Company, which began production in the cave in 1890 under the direction of J.D. McDonald. Within a few years mining prospects within the cave began to dwindle and McDonald realized more money could be made from giving tours and selling formations of the cave then from mining. To accommodate this, cave passages were widened, stairs were built inside the cave and a hotel sprung up outside. So now it is a great place to spend a weekend and have what people call the active vacation. You should definitely try it as it is fun!
Within a few years, disputes broke out among McDonald and the remaining mining companies over who had control and claim over the wind cave. Courts decided that no one had any claim to the cave, and on January 3, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt officially claimed the wind cave to be a national park. Wind Cave park became the seventh national park, and the first one created to protect a cave.