Area Description: Upon reaching the top of the ridge, you get your first peek at the other side. Spread out before you is the heart of Wind Cave National Park. But better views are yet to come as you continue on the trail.
Visible Vegetation: Poison Ivy, Ponderosa Pine, Cudweed Sagewort, Buffalo Grass, Fringed Sagewort, Little Bluestem
Possible Animal Habitat:
Mammals: Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Porcupine, Skunk
Birds: Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, Audubon’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbird
Geology: The Rankin Ridge quartzite is ancient metamorphic schist and one of the oldest in the Black Hills. It is over 2 billion years old. Mixed in are various kinds of mica. The clear types were once used as oven windows.
Thematic Information: This station is a great place to talk about diversity. A greater variety of habitats lead to a more robust and healthy ecosystem. Wind Cave is home to ponderosa pine forests and mixed-grass prairie. Many seasonal streams trickle through these valleys. And at night the landscapes shifts as nocturnal animals begin to prowl.
Recommended Student Activity:
Lead a discussion on which animals would live in a forest and which would live on the prairie.
Animals that need space to run like Pronghorn would need the prairie. Animals that nest in trees would need the forest
Compare and contrast animals that are awake during the night and those awake during the day? What different adaptations would they have?
Better night vision. Different coloring for camouflage. Keen sense of hearing and smell. Echolocation (bats).