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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Windcave National Park, Custer, SD

August 23, 2011

Boxwork formation
Hole where they first entered into the cave system (center on bottom of picture)

Before going into Custer State Park, M and I drove down to Wind Cave National Park to do what we thought would be a quick tour. Arriving at 12:20 pm, we had to wait 10 minutes before the next tour started, the Fairgrounds Cave Tour. This gave us time to peruse the museum and read up on the history of the park. This being our first cave tour, we were elated to learn that it was the 3rd largest cave in the US and 6th largest in the world. 

At the start of the tour, we were huddled into a tiny hallway and waited for the elevator to take us down into the cave. Once in the cave, it was a stop and go walk on cave floors, and trails and steps built by the CCC. The ranger showed us the famed boxwork formation and cave popcorn along with anecdotes about the Lakota people and westerner's relationship with the cave. One of the memorable parts of the tour was when the ranger turned off all the lights and we sat in the obscurity, experiencing absolute darkness and quiet.

Our tour lasted for 2 hours and, though I brought along a jacket, I still froze my butt off due to the 53 deg F cave temperature. For a first cave tour, Wind Cave was one of the best. M and I didn't know what to expect but were quite pleased with everything. Looking back, it's sad to say but this was a much better tour than Mammoth Cave. With the stalactite/stalagmites, boxwork formation, low ceilings, narrow openings, and a very good ranger-led tour, Wind Cave was a splendid pit stop on our road trip.

Driving through the rolling hills of SD to get to Wind Cave National Park

Entrance sign!

Museum showcasing what women wore when they went caving

Modern day spelunking clothes/tools 

M waiting by the elevators before we descend into the cave

Cave wall and ceiling

Walls and walkways were dimly lit

Boxwork starting to show through

More boxwork starting to show through the walls, low ceiling

Ceiling full of boxwork

Ghoulish formations

Holes next to the paved walkway

Blurry picture but this is our group (and me) walking through the cave

Colorful cave popcorn

The hole where the first explorers went down in order to enter the cave

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