I don’t know how I missed it last year since I stayed 20 minutes away, but I did. I missed Wind Cave National Park, a short drive from Hot Springs, South Dakota and a couple hours from the Badlands. It’s neighboring Custer State Park and close to Mount Rushmore. I mean really, how did I miss this? I would also say it’s an underrated national park, and much less visited than nearby Badlands.
This year though, I knew about it and was determined to go, even if I didn’t get to see the cave this time, which I didn’t. It was still super pretty to see the aboveground stuff. Plus there were tons of bison roaming around. If you want to get up close and maybe a little too personal with them, this is the place to be.
The plan was to go to the visitors center then do a hike, but like always, the plan didn’t really pan out. We stopped at the visitors center then headed back out on the road. The next thing we knew, we were out of Wind Cave and in Custer. We drove into it a bit, until the fee area, and took more pictures of bison before turning back.
On our way out we took a dirt road off on the left to get to a trail, but we ended up driving past it, stopping for pictures, and leaving the park. It was a last minute thing, so we didn’t really have anything in mind of what we wanted to do there, so that didn’t really help at all. But I have to say, it is super pretty and I would love to go back to actually hike and go into the cave. I mean that is the main part of the park.
Overall I’d say it was a pretty cool park and somewhere I would definitely go back to. I would highly recommend it if you’re in the area visiting the Badlands or Mount Rushmore. Even just a morning or afternoon would be a good introduction to the park.
Tips for visiting Wind Cave National Park:
- There are no fees to drive or hike in the park.
- Cave tours are first come first serve.
- There are a few different cave tours, the candlelight sounds super cool.
- The tour schedule differs year round, so check before you go.
- There are 30 miles of hiking trails.
- Give the bison space if you encounter them on the road or hiking.
- Watch out for prairie dogs on the road, don’t run them over.
- The weather was perfect in April if a bit windy. There was also almost no one else there.
Have you been to Wind Cave? What did you do there? What did you think of it? Do you want to go?