• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

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  • Trail Closure Information

    The Highland Creek Trail is closed. Backcountry Zones 1 and 2 are closed to all off-trail travel and use. The Sanctuary and Centennial Trails remain open to through traffic.

  • Temporary Road Closure Information

    Oct. 18 & 19: NPS 5 and 6 are closed for the entire weekend. Monday, Oct. 20, through Wednesday, Oct. 22, NPS 5 will be closed from Highway 87 to NPS 6. Highway 87 will be closed from Road 342 (Beaver Creek Road) north to the park boundary.

Abstract - Elk Food Habits and Range Interactions with Other Herbivores in Wind Cave National Park - Final Report

Wydevan, Adrian P. 1977. Elk food habits and range interactions with other herbivores in Wind Cave National Park. Iowa State University. Final Report. 22 p.


Data on food habits and range utilization were obtained on elk (Cervus elaphus) in Wind Cave National Park (WCNP), South Dakota 6 June - 31 December 1976. Plant composition in the rumen of an elk taken in summer consisted of 50% forbs, 28% browse, and 22% graminoids; yellow sweetclover (Metilotus officinalis) had the highest composition of any taxon (30%). Late-summer plant utilization, as indicated by feeding0site examinations, was mainly on graminoids (87%), while autumn and warly-winter utilization was mostly on forbs (62% and 71% respectively). Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) was the major plant eaten in late summer, while sagewort (Artemisisa spp.) was the major plant eaten in autumn-early winter. Elk and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) selected range sites dominated by bluestems (Andropogon spp.), while bison (Bison bison) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) selected range sites dominated by western wheatgrass (Agyopyron smithii) and needlegrass (Stipa spp.). Both cervids also utlilzed forested areas. Postmortem examinations were performed on 13 elk collected in WCNP; al apeared to be in good condition. The estimated calf:cow ratio for autumn 1976 was 64:100.

Did You Know?

Sign used at Wind Cave in 1903 when the cave became a national park.

Wind Cave is the first cave in the world to be designated as a national park. That occurred on January 9, 1903.