• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Caving Narrative 1988 - March 7

Participants:
Erik Major, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
551 feet

Along the tour trails at Wind Cave there are literally hundreds of dark passageways that took off in every direction. Quite often visitors will ask, "Where does that hole go?" More often than not the ranger relied, "I don't know. I've never been back there." Every once in a while it is nice to get into the cave and check out some of these passageways to see where exactly they do go.

Today we decided to head over to the Garden of Eden area to check out some of these mysterious "holes" that Jim and I have looked at for years-never knowing where they go.

After walking along the concrete path for about one minute we finally came to a likely spot about 20 feet off the trail. We checked out two different passages which both seemed to go back into chunks of unsurveyed cave.

We began the survey and before the day was over we had added over 500 feet to the length of the cave which was enough for Wind Cave to officially pass 51 miles in length. Everything we surveyed had been previously traveled but had never been mapped. We were never more than 5 minutes from the concrete trail. Along the way we saw some very unusual black frostwork and encountered an area where bats had roosted and left scratch marks in the limestone. We discovered high domes above the Garden of Eden itself and named one room. This particular room was a low 5 foot high, 30 foot wide room that had been discovered by the McDonald brothers (Alvin and Elmer) and C.F. McBride on July 10, 1891. This was scratched into the soft limestone of the ceiling. This small room was named McRoom in honor of the discoverers.

All in all a very productive trip that satisfied just a little of our "where does that hole go" curiosity.

Report by: Darren Ressler

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.