Area Description: In early summer, this stream valley fills with a colorful wildflower display that rivals 4th fireworks. This station is located near the first footbridge over Beaver Creek at the start of the Centennial Trail. This dusty patch of dirt and minerals is actually a place where bison wallow to dust themselves for some relief from pesky parasites such as flies and mosquitoes.
Visible Vegetation: Wild Bergamot (flowering), Cottonwood, Yellow Prairie Coneflower, Box Elder, Buckthorn
Possible Animal Habitat:
Mammals: Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Hayden’s Shrew, Porcupine
Birds: Common Nighthawk, Northern Flicker, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, American Robin, Brown Thrasher, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow
Geology: The rocks on the hillside are Pahasapa Limestone. In other parts of the country this layer of rock is often called the Madison Formation. This limestone formed in the Mississippian age over 330 million years ago. Laid down in a shallow sea, limestone is mostly composed of calcium carbonate. Its coloration ranges from gray to light tan.
Thematic Information: Beaver Creek is one of three creeks that enter Wind Cave National Park. Since water is somewhat scarce in the park, these streams can be heavily used and impacted quite a lot as we will see in a later station. This is typical karst landscape. None of the three streams that enter Wind Cave National Park actually leave the park. They all sink into the ground which is common in karst landscape.
Recommended Student Activity:
Why do Bison roll in the dirt?
To discourage bugs and parasites.
Bison will also eat dirt, why is that?
For the minerals.