• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota


With some restrictions, you may bring your pet with you to Wind Cave National Park.

At all times, pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than six feet in length. Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from other hazards, such as porcupines and sick, injured, or rabid animals. Leashes also help protect park resources, including wildlife and vegetation.

Pets should not be left unattended. Summer sunshine poses a threat to pets left in vehicles. On a bright, sunny day, even in temperatures as low as 60° F, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car-even with the windows cracked-can reach over 100 degrees within 10 minutes.

  • Pet owners are responsible for removing pet waste from campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, roads, and other developed areas.
  • Pets are not permitted in the back-country areas of the park. Which includes areas near the roadways in the park and most of the trails in the park.

Where you CAN go with your pet:

To protect your pet and the animals of the park, pets are only permitted within the fenced areas of the park.That includes the Elk Mountain Nature Trail and the Prairie Vista Nature Trail.

Where you CAN'T go with your pet:

  • Ranger-Led Programs and Cave Tours
  • Public Buildings including the visitor center
  • The backcountry trails or areas of the park except the trails listed above.

36 CFR 2.15

2.15 (a) (1). All public use buildings and caves are closed to pets. All areas closed to motor vehicle use are closed to pets. Pets are permitted on established roadways and roadway corridors. Additionally, pets may be taken on the Elk Mountain and Prairie Vista Nature Trails.

2.15 (a) (3). Leaving pets unattended or tied to any object within the Park is prohibited, including the exterior of motor vehicles parked within Park boundaries. Pets may be left unattended within motor vehicles with proper ventilation and water and in weather that is not hazardous to the immediate welfare of the animal.

Pet Boarding is available in Hot Springs and Custer:

Fall River Veterinary Clinic 605-745-3786 Must have proof of vaccinations.

Mutt House 605-745-3999 Pets must be dropped off before 11:00 AM.

Anise's Personal Touch Pet Care 605-745-7455

The information about pets in the Superintendent's Compendium states:

(a)(1) All caves, hiking trails, and backcountry areas are closed to pets. Service dogs are allowed on paved cave trails if medically necessary. All public use buildings are closed to pets except for service dogs. Properly leashed dogs are allowed in the Elk Mountain Campground, on established roadways that are open to public motor vehicle traffic, parking lots, and on the two front country nature trails; Elk Mountain and Prairie Vista.

Determination: Park facilities are places of business and often serve as the primary learning and information center for the public.

To reduce conflicts with visitors and park activities all buildings are closed to pets. Pet hair, saliva and sharp claws can permanently impair cave formations and may introduce unwanted bacteria to form in the cave damaging sensitive cave resources. The narrow, slippery and uneven surfaces can cause dangerous conditions for pets and pet owners. The Park has large populations of bison, elk, antelope, deer, badgers, and coyotes and so in order to reduce dangerous wildlife conflicts and protect visitors, the backcountry areas and most Park trails are closed to pets. To accommodate pet owners the Elk Mountain and Prairie Vista trails are open to properly restrained pets. These two trails lie within the developed portion of the Visitor Center and Campground.

(a)(3) Leaving pets unattended or tied to any object while unattended within the Park is prohibited, including the exterior of motor vehicles parked or camped within Park boundaries. Pets may be left unattended within motor vehicles with proper ventilation and water, but only when the weather is not hazardous to the immediate welfare of the animal.

Determination: These requirements are intended to protect visitors, natural resources, park structures, and to ensure pets are properly cared for while in the park.

(a)(5) Pet excrement shall be removed by the pet owner/handler from all public use areas.

Determination: The Visitor Center, housing/maintenance areas, and the campground/picnic areas are highly developed cultural and natural resource areas where concentrations of people gather. This restriction is intended to reduce any possible conflict between users and to provide for a healthy safe environment.


2.15(a)(2) Pets must be restrained at all times and when using a leash, the leash may not exceed six feet.

Did You Know?

A picture of Alvin McDonald in his caving hat.

Alvin McDonald was the first systematic explorer of Wind Cave. He explored the cave from 1890 until his death in 1893. More...