The first stop on our South Dakota trip was at Wind Cave National Park. Jeb and I had been in a few caves together before, but this was our first national park cave.
After our first national park cave, we determined that it did not disappoint! The formation that wind cave is best known for is called boxwork, and it is what can be seen in the picture below. I really liked the boxwork because it made this cave look very different than most that have a lot of stalactites and stalagmites. 95% of the boxwork in the world is in this cave!
Wine Cave is also really awesome because it is the 6th longest cave in the world with over 140 miles of explored passageways. It is believed that there is a lot more to discover and they are constantly finding more routes through it. It might sound corny but this is part of what I think is so neat about caves. When they call them the last true frontier I think that is really accurate, because there is so much more exploration to be done underground.
Wind Cave is also known for its three dimensional maze. It is the densest cave system in the world.
We also did our first wild cave tour at Wind Cave. An off the trail tour with helmets and headlamps. Sadly we didn’t get any pictures of it, but it was my favorite part of our whole trip! We saw so much frostwork, moonmilk, and other formations that you would never see on the normal tour.
While we were on the tour we also learned that there was another cave nearby that is a national monument. We started trying it figure out in our heads if there was anyway we could fit it into our trip!
We did two different scenic tours at wind cave because I wanted to see as much of the cave as possible!
There are some scientists that even believe wind cave and Jewel cave might actually be connected. If this were found to be true it would just be one MASSIVE cave system.
It is called wind cave because it is large enough that it has its on barometric pressure system. So when the air pressure is higher inside the cave than outside, you can feel the wind coming out of it when you are outside.
A close up of the boxwork. Here is Wikipedia’s explanation of how it forms: “Boxwork is commonly composed of thin blades of the mineral calcite that project from cave walls or ceilings that intersect one another at various angles, forming a box-like or honeycomb pattern. The boxwork fins once filled cracks in the rock before the host cave formed. As the walls of the cave began to dissolve away, the more resistant vein and crack fillings did not, or at least dissolved at a slower rate than the surrounding rock, leaving the calcite fins projecting from the cave surface”.
To people like my mom that think all caves look alike lol, this cave makes me strongly disagree.
We also did a little bit of hiking around above ground at the park.
Pretty above ground too!
We hiked up to a fire lookout tower.
LOVED Wind Cave National Park! In my opinion this is one of the national parks that is vastly underappreciated!