Must-Do Hikes in Wind Cave National Park
Hike through landscapes ranged by bison, elk, and pronghorn. Encounter prairie dog cities, historic ranches and sparkling streams. Don't miss these hikes:
1. Rankin Ridge Loop Trail
The highest point in the park is certainly a highlight of this looping nature trail. Families enjoy exploring its diverse geology and wildlife assets, and at just a mile long, it condenses a wide variety of park habitats into its length.
2. Lookout Point Trail
Undulating prairies give way to a gradual descent into Beaver Creek. Enjoying the Lookout Point Trail? Why not continue past the two mile mark and feed into the Highland Creek and Centennial Trails to complete a five mile loop?
3. Sanctuary Trail
This more challenging hike takes you through a vast prairie dog town. The trail connects with the Highland Creek Trail and endures for nearly four miles of pristine prairieland.
4. Highland Creek Trail
Highland Creek is the lengthiest hike in the park and passes through manifold landscapes before culminating in the dramatic Wind Cave Canyon. Explore scented forests and riparian ecosystems along Beaver Creek for six spectacular miles.
Great Places to Stay Near Wind Cave National Park
Best Outdoor Adventures in Wind Cave National Park
With one of the world's most important herds of bison and one of the world's most extensive cave systems, this American National Park is full of exceptional experiences. Here are some outdoor adventures to get excited about:
1. Cave Hikes
Discover speleothems on hikes through Wind Cave. These cave formations protrude like popcorn, or in crystalline structures from the walls of Wind Cave. Frost-like formations join flowstone, helictite bushes, and gypsum feature in the gallery of natural adornments to the cave interior. Marvel at their diversity as you explore this vast and fascinating cave on guided hikes and caving expeditions. Venture into the otherworldly darkness to experience these unique environments.
2. Visit an Ancient Buffalo Jump
Prior to the introduction of horses to the continent, native people pursued bison on foot, forcing them to stampede over cliffs where they would fall to their deaths. This hair-raising practice was a game of life and death, but one jump could supply a year's worth of food and clothing. Come and see where our ancestors organized stampedes a millennia ago.
3. Venture to a Historic Homestead
Sanson Homestead is a classic example of pioneer living. The ranching family contended with mercurial conditions to carve out a living in this wilderness. Once the railway arrived in 1885, the cattle herded through the Southern Black Hills could be sold in Europe and the east. Explore these storied ranching ranges and discover the remains of the historic ranch. The chicken coop is the oldest building, but you can clearly see the barn and root cellar that belonged to this heritage packed homestead.
Top Lodging Near Wind Cave National Park
Best Family Activities in Wind Cave National Park
At nearly 30,000 acres, Wind Cave is a compact National Park, making it easier to navigate for families. With lush prairies, cool forests, and riparian habitats to splash about in, there's so much for young explorers to discover at Wind Cave. Here are some highlights:
1. Junior Ranger Programs
Kids can become Park Rangers when you visit Wind Cave National Park cabins. Grab a copy of the Wind Cave National Park Junior Ranger book and complete the entertaining exercises to promote the health of the park while learning about wildlife and conservation, exploring, and having fun.
2. Adventures in Nature
Every winter, Adventures in Nature Programs educate children aged 3-12. Each year, the program explores a different topic in relation to life in the park, sparking curiosity and independent thinking by posing probing questions about the natural world of the park, and aiding families in engaging with its many unique natural resources.
3. Wildlife Watching
An intense wildlife haven lies on your doorstep when you stay in Wind Cave National Park cabins. Grandiose bison and buffalo seem disproportionately large despite the expansive prairie setting. Prairie dog towns bustle with activity. Exciting apex predators like coyotes and bobcats roam these hills too. Watch in wonderment as the fastest land mammal in North America, the Pronghorn Antelope, shoots across the plains at speeds of 60mph. You can learn more about the plethora of wildlife at Wind Cave on a trip to the park's engaging Visitor Center.