I Don’t Feel Any Wind

We promised ourselves we would hold off on cave tours since we paid for, and were a little disappointed, by two at the start of our long journey. Thanks to those first two, we quickly began to believe that once you’ve seen one cave, you’ve probably seen them all. But Wind Cave National Park was really unique.

First off, this is a National Park, so there’s none of the touristy feel of the other caves we’ve visited. There are also no stalagmites or stalactites – marketing differentiators for those other caves. You see, this cave is very dry due to the wind that travels through it and no natural access points for rainwater.

This tour was also much longer than most private cave tours. In fact, we chose the longest tour – the Fairground Cave tour – which lasted for an hour and a half with a half mile hike through the cave including 450 stairs.

We laughed aloud as our young tour guide, Ranger Tiffany, explained how the cave was discovered. A young man heard a strange noise in the the field while doing chores. As he went to investigate the source of the whistle, a gust of wind blew from a hole in the ground and cast off his hat. He went back into town to gather some friends and show them his new trick. This time, when he stood by the opening, and prepared the crowd for his flying hat illusion, the hole sucked in his hat – never to be recovered.

Little did he know the science behind his trick (and how his lost hat). The hole was the only natural access point to an enormous cave system that would soon come to be known as Wind Cave. And, depending upon the external air pressure on any given day, the wind may blow in or out of the tiny cave entrance at high rates of speed.

This long tour held my attention much longer than the private tours. The rocks changed constantly and each time I turned a corner, we would run into yet another breathtaking formation. This tour included examples of both box work (looks like an empty honeycomb) and popcorn (cave coral that you guessed it, looks like popcorn). In fact, the Wind Cave houses the most known examples of box work in the world.

This tour was amazing, and if I had to offer one negative, it was that we had such a large group (at least 25 people) and it took away from Tiffany’s ability to educate us on what we were seeing – which she was fully capable (and excited) to do.

On your way to Mt. Rushmore and the Needle Highway, be sure to make a stop at Wind Cave National Park.