Angostura Recreation Area to Hold Summer Day Camps

There are three day camps scheduled at Angostura Recreation Area this summer.  The Kid’s Fishing Day Camp is on Wednesday, June 13, Track Detectives is on Wednesday, July 11, and Nature Explorers Day Camp is on Wednesday, August 8.

For the Kid’s Fishing Day, participants will learn how to tie a fishing knot, bait a hook, take part in a casting contest, learn some tricks for cleaning the catch, make fish prints to take home and have plenty of time to fish!

In the Track Detectives Day Camp kids will discover the many animals of South Dakota, specifically the Angostura area and how to identify common animal tracks, go on a hike and make an animal track to take home.

The Nature Explorers Day Camp is for kids that enjoy catching insects, discovering tracks, smelling flowers, identifying animal droppings, looking at birds through binoculars, and just being outside!  Participants will learn how to do the “lizard lunge,” and discover the reptiles and other animals that make Angostura home.

All day camps are designed and limited to 7-12 year olds and meet at Shelter House #2 at Angostura Recreation Area from 9:30 am – Noon.  All participants are asked to wear clothes and shoes that can get wet, bring a water bottle, a snack and sunscreen.  There is not a charge for the camps; however pre-registration is required for all camps by calling 605-745-6996.  Each camp is limited to 30 kids.  Parents are welcome to attend all camps, but not required.  Transportation can be arranged ahead of time from Hot Springs to Angostura Recreation Area by calling 605-745-6996.

Wind Cave National Park and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Seek Volunteers Reduce Elk Population in the Park

 Wind Cave National Park is seeking 8 trained volunteers this February to help reduce the number of elk in the park.  (NPS Photo).

December 18, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD– The National Park Service (NPS), working with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), is again seeking skilled volunteers to reduce its elk herd at Wind Cave National Park (Wind Cave) to help address the high rate of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the park. A total of eight trained volunteers will be needed, four each week for the first two weeks in February. The volunteers will be selected through a lottery system managed by GFP and after qualifying will work with NPS staff to reduce the number of elk inside the park.

Current population estimates indicate numbers of around 260 elk in the park. The long-term elk management plan for Wind Cave has a targeted population objective of 232 to 475 elk. Data collected from last year’s elk reduction has shown the current CWD prevalence rate in the park’s elk herd to be 13.9%.  It is believed that reducing the elk population within the park and keeping it near the low population objective, may reduce the prevalence of CWD. The effectiveness of this management action will be evaluated over the next several years to coincide with the lifespan of the disease in elk. This action is consistent with the range of options presented in the Wind Cave Elk Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement signed in 2009.

“We were very pleased with the partnership and support we received from GFP on this project, and we look forward to working with our partners again this year to improve the health of our herd,” Wind Cave Superintendent Vidal Dávila said. “The study will inform wildlife managers throughout our agency and the State for the long-term health of the species.”

Every animal taken during this operation will be tested for CWD. The NPS is partnering with GFP to distribute meat with a “non-detected” finding for CWD to Feeding South Dakota, an organization dedicated to eliminating hunger in the state. Also, volunteers who work an entire week on this operation will be eligible to receive some of the elk meat. Only meat with a ‘not-detected’ test result for CWD will be distributed.

Four different volunteers will be needed each of the two weeks of this operation beginning February 5. Two teams will be formed, each consisting of an NPS team leader and 2 volunteers. Anyone wishing to volunteer must submit an online application through GFP website at: A lottery, similar to those conducted for elk permits, will be conducted.  Applications will be accepted from January 3, 2018, to January 10, 2018.  Only online applications will be accepted.  No paper applications will be allowed. Applicants need to be over 18 years of age, a South Dakota resident, not have a felony record, and be willing to undergo a background check.

On their first day, volunteers will be required to demonstrate advanced firearms proficiency and physical fitness to participate. This will include shooting a minimum of 3 out of 5 shots into an 8-inch circle at 200 yards using their own firearm and non-lead ammunition. During the week, volunteers will be required to hike up to 10 miles over rough terrain and carry packs up to 70 lbs. in winter weather conditions. The operation will be conducted in February.

For information and requirements for participation as a trained volunteer, visit:

Elk Research Continues In Wind Cave National Park With The Collaring of 24 Animals

A crewmember from Leading Edge Aviation out of Clarkston, Washington, repackages one of the nets used to capture elk. (NPS Photo)

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Twenty-four elk in Wind Cave National Park were recently fitted with GPS (Global Positioning System) radio collars to help monitor elk inside the park for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

This study, led by a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist, is evaluating whether it is possible to reduce the prevalence rate of CWD in the park’s elk herd by reducing herd density. Last year the park culled 262 elk from the herd. The recently installed collars will be used to help monitor elk movements and habitat use as part of this CWD study.

“We appreciate our partnership with the USGS and how they are helping us learn more about this disease,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila.  “These collars and the information they provide will allow us to study the elk that are living inside the park and learn more about their movements and habits.”

The collars record the location of the elk every seven hours, and on a rotating basis, several elk each day will have their locations recorded every 15 minutes.  This is the second year of this study.

Drivers Urged to Use Caution when Driving Through Wind Cave National Park

Drivers need to be extra cautious during the winter driving through Wind Cave National Park due to wildlife on the roads.  (NPS Photo)

December 6, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, HOT SPRINGS, S.D. – With the recent winter weather, bison are once again on or near the roadways of Wind Cave National Park, especially Highway 385 at the park’s south entrance.  Three bison were injured and one was killed in vehicle crashes in the park so far this season.

“Bison gather in the driving lanes, especially next to the cattle guards, where salt is most easily tracked in on vehicles,” said park superintendent Vidal Dávila. “Despite their size, these animals are very difficult to see on the park’s winding roads, all the more so at night or when visibility is poor due to winter weather.”

Bison and other large animals such as elk are drawn to the roads by salt used to melt snow and ice during winter storms. The park doesn’t salt their roads, but salt is carried into the park by vehicles from outside the park. Salt-laden clumps of snow and ice are frequently shaken loose while vehicles travel through the park or when vehicles rattle across cattle guards at park boundaries. The recent animal collisions occurred along US Highway 385, where salt is most prevalent.

The park may seek restitution for each animal killed if the driver is found to be negligent due to factors such as speed or driving under the influence.

State regulations do not allow the park to donate road-killed bison to food banks. The bison carcasses instead provided food for other park wildlife.

There are approximately 350 bison and 390 elk in the park.

Wind Cave Opens Backcountry Roads, Lifting Closure Order


Wind Cave National Park. Photo: Herb Ryan Photography

December 4, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Thirteen miles of backcountry roads in Wind Cave National Park closed on November 17 to protect natural and cultural resources are now open.

The park established a temporary closure affecting roads NPS 5 and NPS 6 and a portion of the park’s backcountry in order to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources. Since then, the park has implemented other protective measures that are less restrictive.

Periodic closures of backcountry roads NPS 5 and 6 remain possible throughout winter for visitor safety during hazardous road conditions.

The visitor center is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 with cave tours at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The visitor center will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.


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Holiday Open House and Annual Bird Count Help Celebrate the Season at Wind Cave National Park

A Hairy Woodpecker is one of the bird species that might be seen on the Wind Cave National Park Christmas Bird Count held on Sunday, December 17. (NPS Photo)


 November 29, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, HOT SPRINGS  S.D. – Holiday events this year at Wind Cave National Park begin Wednesday, December 13,  with the park’s holiday open house followed by the 22 Annual Wind Cave National Park Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December 17.

The open house will run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the visitor center. Light refreshments will be served, and students from the Hot Springs’ third grade will present their Christmas program at 1:30 p.m. The students will also decorate the visitor center Christmas tree.

“The open house and Christmas bird count are fun ways to celebrate the season,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “We welcome these opportunities to meet with our neighbors, and we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.”

During the open house, the public will be able to view park exhibits and browse through the park store operated by the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.

Bird count participants should dress for the weather, bring field guides, and binoculars. Plan to meet at the visitor center no later than 7:45 a.m. on December 17. Afterwards, there will be a potluck supper around 4:15 p.m. in the visitor center; bring a dish to share.  RSVP by calling the park at 605-745-4600.

The Christmas Bird Count is patterned after the National Audubon Society’s effort to document trends in wintering birdlife throughout the United States. The count area will include all of Wind Cave National Park and areas of the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park.

The visitor center and cave will close on Christmas and New Year’s Day to allow staff to celebrate the holidays with their families. Throughout the remainder of the winter, the visitor center will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with cave tours at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Park Issues Temporary Road & Backcountry Closure Order to Protect Natural and Cultural Resources


WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Wind Cave National Park has established a temporary closure affecting two park roads and a portion of the park’s backcountry. The closure was established to protect natural and cultural resources and avoid a possible conflict among visitor use activities in this part of the park.

Effective November 17, 2017, NPS Road 5 is closed to vehicles from the southern boundary of Wind Cave National Park to the junction with SD Highway 87. Also closed to vehicles is NPS Road 6 from the junction of NPS Road 5 to the northern boundary of Wind Cave National Park. Both roads remain open to pedestrian use from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm daily.

A closure is also in affect for all park areas east of US Highway 385 from the southern boundary of Wind Cave National Park to the junction with SD Highway 87, and east of SD Highway 87 to the northern boundary of Wind Cave National Park. These areas are closed to all entry and use nightly between 5:30 pm and 7:00 am the next day. The nightly closure also applies to pedestrian use on NPS Roads 5 & 6.

Both closures are in effect until further notice. US Highway 385 and SD Highway 87 remain open. Visitor Center hours and cave tours are also operating as normal.

Mammoth Site 5th Annual Eddie Clay Legacy Casino Night


5th Annual Eddie Clay Legacy Casino Night

            The Mammoth Site® of Hot Springs, SD Inc. will be having a casino night fundraiser on April 28, 2017 from 7:00 pm until 10:30 pm.  The casino will be built inside The Mammoth Site’s Exhibit hall.  Food will be provided by Woolly’s, and the ticket price of $75.00 each or $125.00 per couple may be tax-deductible.

                        Each ticket includes $75,000 in Mammoth Bucks to be played with in our 10 fun and very loose tables.  Games of chance include, Black Jack, Texas Hold’em, Roulette, Craps, 3-Card Poker, Let-It-Ride Poker, Bingo and a Wheel of Fortune.

As an added bonus if you are a member of The Mammoth Site or become one; you will receive an additional $25,000 in Mammoth Bucks!  Last year over $12,000.00 in prizes were given out.

This is a great way to spend a Friday night with friends, so make plans on coming to The Mammoth Site on April 28th.  Come help The Mammoth Site raise funds for the Eddie Clay Legacy.

            You may purchase tickets online at, from The Mammoth Site or by calling 605-745-6017.

            “In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex, familial status, sexual orientation, and reprisal.” (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs).