Birth of a National Park - The Winds of Wind Cave

The Buffalo Woman

American Indian stories dating back centuries speak of a "hole that breaths cool air" near the Buffalo Gap. Regarded as the origin site for the Lakota people, there are many Lakota stories about the role the cave played in their culture. Some tell of the trickster Iktomi, others tell of a beautiful woman, known as the buffalo woman, who came out of the cave and gave the bison to the Lakota people.


Weather Predictor

Early in the 1890s it was known that the cave could predict the weather. The wind at the entrance is a result of changing barometric pressure. Good weather means higher outside air pressure which forces air into the cave. When low air pressure moves into the region, the higher pressure inside the cave forces the air to blow out.

Tom Bingham on horseback
Tom Bingham

NPS Photo Archive

The Flying Hat

In 1881 when Jesse and Tom Bingham were in the area hunting deer, they noticed the wind coming from the cave. As the story goes, one of them, probably Jesse, was following a wounded deer up a ravine when he heard a loud whistling sound and noticed grass caught in a strong breeze on what otherwise was a calm day. Upon investigation he found a small hole. When he looked into the hole, the winds blew his hat right off his head!

Click on the links below to learn more about the park's history.

For more information about the history of the park, visit these pages.

Last updated: December 27, 2017

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