Things To Know Before You Come
When planning your visit, plan to attend a ranger-led program. While cave tours are offered all year long, during the summer many other interesting programs are offered. These programs include 5 different cave tours, a ranger-led prairie hike, discovery programs, and evening campfire programs. Topics might include cave history, geology, the relationships of the plants and animals, the importance of fire to the park's ecosystems, or other natural or cultural history topics.
All cave tours are ranger-guided and leave from the visitor center. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. During the summer months long waits may be encountered. To avoid waits, the best time to visit the cave is during the early hours of the day. During the summer weekends are good times to visit; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest days.
Wind Cave National Park and the rest of the southern Black Hills are much warmer and drier than the northern hills. Winter snowfall averages 30 inches annually. The spring and fall can be warm and sunny, or rainy and snowy with a chilly wind. Summer bring warm daytime temperatures with cool evenings.
Severe thunderstorms are common in June and July and occasionally in August.
Thunderstorms can be dangerous and visitors should be prepared for them. Large hail is common and the storms can produce severe lightning.
Slow moving storms can dump large amounts of rain over a small area. The steep canyons, rock cliffs, and small creeks of the Black Hills are prone to flash flooding. Be cautious when camping near a creek bed even if it is dry. Move uphill if flooding starts.
For current forecasts and warnings, liston to NOAA Weather Radio on 162.425 MHz in the southern Black Hills or 162.550 MHz in Rapid City.
Cell coverage in the Black Hills is spotty at best. It is often not possible to make a call while driving between towns. At the visitor center there is no coverage.
The park has limited food and beverage vending services in the visitor center. There are no grocery or restaurant services. These are available in the nearby towns of Custer and Hot Springs, SD.
There is a picnic area 1/4 mile north of the visitor center with easy access to the visitor center and the start of cave tours.
Did You Know?
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.