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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Jennifer Cook

Wind Cave National Park

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Interesting fun fact: The Wind Cave National Park was the first cave to be designated as a national park!

Yeah- even so, I wasn’t all that stoked about going. I have discovered that caves are not my favorite destination. I’m not generally claustrophobic as a rule, but after about an hour underground I do find myself starting to get a little unsettled. In truth, after visiting Carlsbad Caverns earlier this year, I honestly only wanted to see the Wind Caves to check it off my list. But here’s the thing:

Wind Cave National Park features the world's largest concentration of rare boxwork formations.

If you are like me, that means very little to you, but it’s important to distinguish this cave from others. Wind Cave is relatively dry and has very few stalactites and stalagmites, but the boxwork (an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs) can be found all over Wind Cave, and almost nowhere else.

Additionally, Wind Cave has grown to be one of the world’s largest known caves. Currently, over 150 miles of passages have been mapped making it the third-longest cave in the U.S. and the sixth-longest cave in the world.

(courtesy of npmaps.com)


I would be amis if I didn't mention the significance that Wind Cave has for the Lakota nation. Living in the Dakotas has really strengthened my desire for knowledge and understanding of Native American culture as well as a deep respect and interest in the history of the Lakota nation. My absolute favorite part in learning about this cave was its spiritual significance in Lakota culture. Wind Cave is a scared place to the Lakota as it is part of their origin story. According to this story, not only were the first Lakota people born from Wind Cave, but the first bison came from the cave as well. There are few natural entrances to the cave, but the largest and most well-known naturally formed entrance is only about ten inches wide.

I was disappointed that the focus of the wind Cave history was not more centered around the Lakota or other Native nations, but I was grateful for the knowledge that we learned during our visit to the park.


Finally, this park also protects two very different worlds- one deep within the earth (The Wind Cave ) and another sunlit world that offers 33,970 acres of forest and prairie on the surface that act as a natural sanctuary for wildlife . It is like getting 2 parks for the price of one! I strongly recommend visiting wind cave even if caves are not your thing!


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