We drove north from Interstate 90 across tall grass prairies and into the Black Hills the next day. We stopped at a small town museum, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Buffalo Gap National Grassland ranger station to collect some information about the area. There are a LOT of tourist attractions here, including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. We were not interested in seeing how people had carved up the mountains, however. We were interested in exploring the ecosystem on top and the caves beneath these sacred hills.
We decided to stay in the Park campground for two nights and take a long hike in the morning and a cave tour in the afternoon of the full day in between. The campground was in a stand of Ponderosa pine, nestled in the grassy, rolling hills. We heard coyotes at dusk both nights, yipping far off somewhere. The camp sites were, thankfully, not crowded at all. But the Visitor Center sure was! The cave tours are very popular in the summer, one reason being that the temperature in the cave is a constant 53 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Probably most tourists are seeing other attractions and sleeping in town, only visiting the National Park for a few hours to tour the cave. We saw no one on the six miles of hiking trails that we covered. But we did see buffalo, prairie dogs, dung beetles, an elk pelvis, and lots of other signs of a vibrant biotic community.
That’s so cool. I hope that you were/are able to go on a cave tour. If so, I can’t wait to see the photos. Happy Exploring 🙂
We did go on a cave tour! Taking pictures down there is a bit dicey, though. Not that it damages formations or anything, just that the lighting is….tricky.
I totally understand. Glad you were able to go on a cave tour. It sounds like it would be an awesome experience.
How very beautiful. And in a way lucky that more people don’t know it. 🙂 No matter how good it would have been for them.
That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? Public awareness, education and enjoyment without too much public.
These photos are delightful . . . I felt as though I was there. Thank you so much.
You’re very welcome, and I hope you get the chance to actually be there, too!
Your photographs are amazing! We stopped in Jewel Cave a few years ago, but did not make it into Wind Cave. It is officially on the list! Thank you!
I want to see Jewel Cave now, too. Totally different formations with a different character.