Cave Exploration - Paha Sapa Grotto

John Scheltens admiring soda straws formation inside Wind Cave
John Scheltens

NPS Photo

Most Black Hills cavers are members with the Paha Sapa Grotto of the National Speleological Society which is associated with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.

Reunion Under the Black Hills

In 1977, former Windy City Grotto member, John Scheltens moved to Hot Springs to become its city engineer. A year later Dave Springhetti, another Windy City Grotto member also moved into the area. Together with members of the Paha Sapa Grotto, Scheltens and Springhetti renewed their explorations in Wind Cave.

Dave Springhetti looking at roots inside Wind Cave
Dave Springhetti

NPS Photo

Starting where they had left off, Scheltens and Springhetti teamed with members of the Paha Sapa Grotto, occasional cavers from the Colorado Grotto, and with other cavers they explored and mapped passages between the historic section of the cave out to Half Mile Hall and beyond.
Mike Wiles adjusting cave surveying equipment
Mike Wiles

NPS Photo by Jim Pisarowicz

The Silent Expressway

On October 8, 1980 Scheltens along with Paha Sapa Grotto member and Jewel Cave ranger Mike Wiles, former Wind Cave ranger Tom Miller, and Peter Shiflett pushed beyond any passages yet discovered when they first entered the Silent Expressway. Although strong winds flowed along Silent Expressway, this discovery marked the deepest penetration in Wind Cave until 1991.


Last updated: February 16, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

Contact Us