Fee Waiver Information

Fee Waiver Information
National Park Service regulations allow school groups and other approved national and international academic institutions to obtain a waiver of tour fees, provided the visit is for educational or scientific purposes, and the resources or facilities that the group intends to use support those purposes.

Fee waivers may be granted to educational institutions whose curriculum relates specifically to the resources at Wind Cave National Park. See below for how to apply. All applications must be received within three weeks prior to anticipated trip. Please be aware:

  • Academic fee waivers do not include camping or other activity fees.
  • Academic fee waivers cannot be granted for hardship factors.
  • Service, civic, or fraternal organizations, such as Scouting, Rotary, and Elks, do not quality for an academic fee waiver unless the group meets the criteria above.
  • "Blanket" academic fee waivers for all national parks are not issued or accepted. Groups must submit separate requests to individual parks for approval.

Fee Waiver Criteria
Academic fee waivers are not granted automatically. Applicant groups must demonstrate that they qualify for the waiver. There are three requirements that the group must meet to qualify for an academic fee waiver: eligibility, educational purpose, and relevancy of park resources or facilities.

1. Eligibility
Fees may be waived for educational and scientific institiutions that are using the park for educational purposes.

2. Educational Purpose of the Visit
Each group must provide a written statement defining the educational objectives of the trip to the cave confirming that the visit supports a specific curriculum.

3. Relevance of Park Resources or Facilities
Applicants must provide a written statement identifying the park resources and/or facilities that will be used to support the educational purpose of the visit, and how they are relevant to that purpose.

Home Schools
Home schools may be granted fee waivers based on the course of study following the procedures above, as long as they meet your state requirements for home schools. A copy of your state's department of education requirements may be requested.

Fee Waiver Application

In order for the park to grant an educational fee waiver, applicants are required to complete a fee waiver application providing the educational objectives on the subject that has been or will be taught. The educational objectives must show the relationship between the purpose of your visit and your curriculum. You might consider topics such as rocks and minerals, cave features, cave forming processes, local history, or other cave related subjects. The content of educational objectives will be used to determine fee waiver eligibility. The National Park Service is not authorized to waive fees for recreational visits. Lack of, or insufficiently prepared documentation, may result in your application being denied.

To request a tour or to apply for an educational fee waiver please contact the park at 605-745-1132.

How to Apply

Most groups are reserved on a Natural Entrance Cave Tour which is limited to 40 people. To avoid overbooking tours, a reservation for a cave tour must be established before groups may apply for a fee waiver. To make a reservation please contact the park at 605-745-1132. All reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis.

When choosing a tour time, remember that we require all groups arrive at the park visitor center at least half an hour before the tours begin. These tours are scheduled and you may be sharing the tour with others. It will begin on time and cannot be changed to accommodate your needs.

Please bring one chaperone for every ten students. Choose your chaperones carefully; many of the tours are moderately to very strenuous.

Groups that do not qualify for an academic fee waiver will be charged the appropriate tour fee. The fees can be viewed https://www.nps.gov/wica/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

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