Wind Cave National Park Offers Free Tours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Visitors taking free tours of Wind Cave on January 15 will view a rare calcite cave formation called boxwork. (NPS Photo)

January 6, 2018

Hot Springs, S.D.  – Wind Cave National Park will offer free tours on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 15. Natural Entrance Tours will be offered at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. These tours are 75 minutes in length and traverse 300 stairs beginning at the cave’s Walk-In Entrance. A tour of the Garden of Eden area of the cave will be offered at 3 p.m. This hour-long tour has 150 stairs. Both tours will view the boxwork cave formation for which the cave is famous.

Tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All tours begin at the visitor center located ½-mile off US Highway 385.

For more information, contact Wind Cave National Park at 605-745-4600

Adventures In Nature Program Begins January 16 At Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park’s Adventures in Nature Program for young children begins January 16. (NPS Photo)

December 20, 2017

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Help your children learn about nature and develop skills to explore the natural world by attending Wind Cave National Park’s Adventures in Nature programs. These programs are offered at the park every other Tuesday beginning January 16 through April 10.

“Participants will explore both surface and subsurface areas of the park as they learn about the mysteries of Wind Cave National Park,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “These free programs are designed for children ages 3 to 12 to encourage them to experience nature while providing them an opportunity to play in an active learning environment.”

Children will be grouped according to their age, allowing them opportunities to explore hands-on activities with their peers. Topics vary each week and will always include activities, crafts, and a hike exploring the day’s concept. Registration begins at 9:45 a.m., with programs running from 10 a.m. to noon. Parents are encouraged to provide their children with a snack before the program.

To ensure enough materials for every child, parents are asked to call the park at 605-745-1134 or e-mail wica_interpretation@nps.gov to let rangers know they are coming. It is not a requirement, but it helps the park plan if they know ahead of time the number and ages of children. Calling ahead of time also helps the staff alert participants in the event of bad weather or road conditions.

Older children can also attend and take part in activities or assist the younger children in their explorations and activities. In case of bad weather, the program may be canceled. Either call the park at the above number or visit our Facebook page for program status.

The first program is “Mysteries of People” and will explore the way people over the ages have interacted with the land. For a complete listing of this year’s programs, visit www.nps.gov/wica/forkids and click on the Adventures in Nature link.

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

 

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Holiday events this year at Wind Cave National Park begin Sunday, December 11,  with the 21st annual Wind Cave National Park Christmas Bird Count followed by the park’s yearly holiday open house on Wednesday, December 14.

Bird count participants should dress for the weather, bring field guides, and binoculars. Plan to meet at the visitor center no later than 7:30 a.m. on December 11. 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 open house December 14 will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the visitor center. Light refreshments will be served, and students from the Hot Springs’ third grade will sing carols around 1:30 p.m. The students will also decorate the visitor center Christmas tree.

“We appreciate people taking part in our holiday activities, either the Christmas Bird Count or the open house,” 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 visitor center’s bookstore operated by the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.

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.

Until the cave elevators are repaired around the end of January, all tours will walk in and out of the cave via the Walk-In Entrance. This includes climbing

National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park

By Herb Ryan
November 2, 2016

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SDSpeakers, music, and light refreshments were the order of the day at Wind Cave National Park’s celebration of the designation of the bison as the National Mammal. The event was held Tuesday afternoon November 1, 2016 on the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center front lawn. 

“We are pleased to be hosting this event honoring the naming of the North American bison as the official National Mammal of the United States,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “Bison nearly went extinct in the late 1800s, and their survival is one of the country’s greatest conservation success stories. The 450 bison we have in the park are descendants of those early animals.”

The keynote speaker, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, lead co-sponsor for the National Bison Legacy Act, which President Obama signed into law earlier this year. Noem said, “The journey of the Bison from near extension to America’s First National Mammal was marked by struggle and resilience. It took republicans and democrats, people who represented South Dakota, people who represented places like the Bronx to raise the bison “Great Tatanka” as a Native American symbol of our heritage. And that’s the American frontier that  still defines America from all those other countries across the world.”

Kelly Aylward spoke on the importance of the celebration at Wind Cave and the fact that the Wind Cave herd descends from bison sent west from the Bronx Zoo to repopulate the park in the early 1900’s. Kelly Aylward is the Head of Federal Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society.

Jim Stone, Executive Director Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council talked about the relationship between the historic buffalo family units and ” how historic buffalo formed small family units within a wider herd circle of other related units”. Stone went on to explain the dynamic of the historic buffalo family units having a parallel with today’s Native American society and the need make historic Buffalo society a part of today’s human experience.

The Hot Springs High School Bison Band under the direction of Nathaniel Kroshus played the National Anthem and America The Beautiful.  Fourth graders from Hot Springs attended the ceremony and received their Fourth Grade “Every Kid in a Park” Pass allowing free entrance to any Federal land agency site requiring an entrance fee.

The National Park Service along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, National Bison Association, and the Black Hills Parks and Forest Association, are sponsored the event. 

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A majestic Bull Bison stands picture perfect near the entrance of Wind Cave National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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Harold Salway, Executive Director Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority opens the event with a prayer followed by the “Flag Song” in the Lakota language sung by Harold and his son Tyrel at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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The Hot Springs Bison Band under the direction of Nathaniel Kroshus played the National Anthem and concluded the program playing America the Beautiful at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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Vidal Davila Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park gives opening remarks at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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U.S. Representative South Dakota Kristi Noem who helped lead the House in passing H.R.2908, the National Bison Legacy Act, speaks at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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Jim Stone Executive Director InterTribal Buffalo Council speaking at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

 

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A packed house at the National Mammal Dedication Ceremony at Wind Cave National Park Tuesday November 1, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

Wind Cave Celebrates Bison Designation as the National Mammal Tuesday, November 1

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Wind Cave National Park will host an event November 1 honoring the designation of the bison as the National Mammal. (NPS Photo)

 

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SDSpeakers, music, and light refreshments on Tuesday, November 1, mark Wind Cave National Park’s celebration of the designation of the bison as the National Mammal.  The event kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center front lawn. The keynote speaker is Congresswoman Kristi Noem, lead co-sponsor for the National Bison Legacy Act, which President Obama signed into law earlier this year.

“We are pleased to be hosting this event honoring the naming of the North American bison as the official National Mammal of the United States,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “Bison nearly went extinct in the late 1800s, and their survival is one of the country’s greatest conservation success stories. The 450 bison we have in the park are descendants of those early animals.”

Other speakers include representatives of the National Park Service, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), InterTribal Buffalo Council, and National Bison Association.

“This celebration at Wind Cave National Park is especially meaningful for the Wildlife Conservation Society, since the Wind Cave herd descends from bison sent west from our Bronx Zoo to repopulate the park in the early 1900s,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “As our new National Mammal, we are happy to celebrate this American symbol of unity, resilience and healthy landscapes and communities.”

The Hot Springs High School Bison Band will play the National Anthem and a Lakota drum group will perform the Flag Song.  Fourth graders from Hot Springs will attend the ceremony and receive their Fourth Grade “Every Kid in a Park” Pass allowing free entrance to any Federal land agency site requiring an entrance fee.

The National Park Service along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, National Bison Association, and the Black Hills Parks and Forest Association, are sponsoring the event. 

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

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NPS Photo: Elk in Wind Cave National Park

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD– The National Park Service (NPS), working with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), will use 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. Beginning in mid-November, trained volunteers selected through a lottery system managed by GFP will work with NPS staff to reduce the number of elk inside the park.

Volunteers will be selected by lottery through the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, and will be trained by park staff.

The elk management plan for Wind Cave has a targeted population objective of 232 to 475 elk. Current population estimates indicate numbers of around 550 elk in the park. A recently released report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates the CWD prevalence rate in the park’s elk herd is around 9.5 percent, which is higher than previously understood. Scientists seek to determine if this increased prevalence is linked to the higher density of elk in the park. It is believed that by reducing the elk population within the boundary of the park, it will also 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.

“Our scientists believe the density of the park’s elk population and CWD are related,” Wind Cave Superintendent Vidal Dávila said. “We will be following the herd’s health over the next several years to determine if the reduced density of elk lowers the prevalence of CWD in the park. 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, to be distributed. 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 week for this operation. Each day two teams will be formed: consisting of an NPS team leader and 2 volunteers. Anyone wishing to volunteer should submit an online application through GFP website at:https://apps.sd.gov/gf79license/login.aspx. A lottery, similar to those conducted for elk permits, will be conducted.  Applications will be accepted from September 14, 2016 to September 28, 2016 at 8 am CDT.  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. Applications will be accepted only through the online process.

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 70lbs. The operation is expected to continue through February.

“As people fill out the application, they have to understand that this is difficult work that includes several hard days in the field under strenuous hiking and weather conditions,” said Dávila. 

For more information visit nps.gov/wica/learn/nature/elk-cervus-elaphus.htm

Free Tours at Wind Cave National Park on September 24, 2016 in Celebration of National Public Lands Day

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Photo: National Park Service

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SDWind Cave National Park will be offering free tours on Saturday, September 24, as part of National Public Lands Day. Additionally, Wind Cave will also host a volunteer project for a special day of service and celebration.

“We will be part of the more than 2,200 sites across the country with people beautifying the land, improving their fitness, and enjoying the outdoors,” said Wind Cave National Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “National Public Lands Day is a day to celebrate our public lands. We hope to see you here.”

The Friends of Wind Cave National Park will be working on a vegetation project involving exotic plant removal. People interested in helping are encouraged to meet at the park visitor center at 8:30 a.m. dressed for the weather with work gloves and water. The work project ends around noon. Group size is limited to 20 people.

Anyone interested in free tours of Wind Cave are encouraged to arrive early. All tours begin at the visitor centers, and cave tour tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis. This event can be extremely popular resulting in long wait times and possible “sold out” tours. 

Natural Entrance Tours beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing throughout the day until 4:30 p.m. will be offered. These hour and fifteen-minute tours are moderately strenuous and include 300 stairs. The cave’s temperature is 54 ºF. A light coat or sweater and sturdy walking shoes are recommended.

National Public Lands Day is a time to celebrate the heritage sites of the United States.  All visitors are encouraged to explore these natural and cultural treasures and take the time to learn the significance behind each location.  For more information, contact Wind Cave at 605-745-4600.

University of Michigan Wins American Solar Challenge Rally

 

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The University of Michigan’s car crossing the finish line at Wind Cave National Park Saturday afternoon August 6, 2016 (NPS Photo)

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD— It was a challenging day to be driving a solar-powered car, as overcast skies and a steady drizzle lowered the sun’s available power, but the University of Michigan’s car  powered through the rain and won the 2016 American Solar Challenge. The rally began on July 30 in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio and traveled across 7 states and 1,975 miles in 8 days before concluding at Wind Cave National Park Saturday afternoon. The winning car finished the rally in 48 hours, 26 minutes, and 46 seconds.

“We’re very relieved for the race to be over,” said Clayton Daily, Engineering Director for the University of Michigan car. “We put in so much effort to get the car ready for the road. We worked on it all year and the entire team’s effort paid off.”

Every two years the Innovators Educational Foundation organizes the American Solar Challenge, a collegiate student design competition to design, build, and drive solar-powered vehicles in a cross-country time/distance rally event.

“We were told this was one of the toughest rallies in 17 years due to the cloudy and wet weather the teams experienced along the route,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “We were honored to be able to host the conclusion of this innovative rally while celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service.”

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Polli Montreal’s car crossing the finish line at Wind Cave National Park Saturday afternoon August 6, 2016. Photo: Herb Ryan/Custer Free Press

ASC 2016 Overall Winners and Results

  1. University of Michigan
  2. Dunwoody College of Technology
  3. University of Toronto
Rank Team # – Name Stage 1 Time Stage 2 Time Stage 3 Time Stage 4 Time Total Time Miles Credited
1 2 – Michigan 10:59:41 11:41:22 19:09:51 6:35:52 48:26:46 1976.2
2 51 – Dunwoody 13:05:48 15:18:45 23:44:43 7:21:06 59:30:22 1971.5
3 77 – Toronto 14:17:12 14:01:39 23:46:24 10:05:48 62:11:03 1914.6
4 42 – Missouri S&T 15:27:36 16:25:48 24:20:04 8:01:12 64:14:40 1955.8
5 32 – Principia 13:04:53 15:34:05 24:03:16 11:49:50 64:32:04 1886.3
6 828 – Appalachian State 13:29:06 16:52:56 40:37:06 5:28:42 76:27:50 1724.5
7 9 – Iowa State 17:12:22 18:06:48 35:23:00 9:05:06 79:47:16 1783.9
8 92 – ETS Quebec 15:32:58 18:28:48 39:06:48 11:44:00 84:52:34 1659.0
9 6 – Berkeley 14:25:07 30:53:24 32:21:12 12:06:18 89:46:01 1530.9
10* 35 – Minnesota 14:44:36 18:08:24 48:19:40 11:33:18 92:45:58 1796.5
10 55 – Poly Montreal 14:20:08 21:18:54 55:27:56 4:44:17 95:51:15 1370.4
11 17 – Illinois State 16:59:57 36:51:54 41:40:30 13:50:01 109:22:22 1193.3
12 3 – Kentucky 36:35:18 DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ  135.5

For more information about the rally, and the university teams that competed in it, visit americansolarchallenge.org.

Solar Cars Coming to Wind Cave National Park During 1,975-mile American Solar Challenge Rally

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Photo Caption: Solar powered cars will be visiting Wind Cave National Park on August 6 as part of the American Solar Challenge. (American Solar Challenge Photo)

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD– After traveling 1,975 miles across 7 states as part of the American Solar Challenge, it all ends for college teams from across the world with a checkered flag at Wind Cave National Park on Saturday, August 6.  Over a dozen university teams have designed and built solar-powered cars that will participate in an 8-day open road rally while stopping at 9 different National Park Service sites.

The American Solar Challenge cars will stop at Wind Cave on August 6 from approximately 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to see the cars and enjoy other activities including discovering how climate change impacts the Midwest and making sun-heated s’mores

“We are excited to welcome the solar cars to Wind Cave,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “Visitors will get the chance to explore spectacular park resources, see cool cars that use innovative solar technology, and learn more about National Park Service efforts to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Every two years the Innovators Educational Foundation organizes the American Solar Challenge, a collegiate student design competition to design, build, and drive solar-powered vehicles in a cross-country time/distance rally event.

“We’re looking forward to bringing the solar cars to 9 national parks across the Midwest during the American Solar Challenge 2016 and celebrating the National Park Service Centennial. We hope visitors will take this opportunity to see the solar cars, meet the teams, and find their park,” says Event Organizer Gail Lueck.

The American Solar Challenge will begin at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio on July 30, 2016, and end in Wind Cave National Park on August 6, 2016. Midway stops include Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Homestead National Monument of America, and Scotts Bluff National Monument.  More information is available on the Midwest Regional Office website.

As part of the 2016 Centennial, the National Park Service has challenged itself to provide more research and education around the effects of climate change on national park resources.  The Green Parks Program encourages walking, biking, ride-sharing, and use of fuel-efficient or alternative-fuel vehicles.  The American Solar Challenge highlights these efforts by bringing solar-powered cars to parks.

For more information about the rally, and the university teams competing in it, visit americansolarchallenge.org 

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 413 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.