Paleo Entrance Discovery

Paleo Entrance - Root 89 Rod Horrocks with a cave radio
Paleo Entrance - Root 89 Rod Horrocks with a cave radio

NPS Photo

Trip: On 3/14/00, Rod Horrocks led a 5-hour trip with Nick Myers, Belinda Fox, & Caity Czaja to find the source of the bones found in the Chamber of Lost Souls in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Chamber of Lost Souls to continue the CV survey from leads that I had found on 8/4/99 and to specifically push the domes above the bone site excavated by Dr. James E. Martin from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City in the 1980's. We were trying to find the paleo entrance that the stream-worn and woodrat chewed bones originated from. The first dome we checked went into a spongework belly crawl and led to 215 feet of survey. We found a shallow lake (2-3" deep) that was twice the size of the more well-known Silent Lake. We then found a room with roots in it. They ranged from hair-like to 1" in diameter. Some of the hair-like roots had calcite crystals growing on them. To the best of my knowledge, this is only the third time in Wind Cave, roots have been found penetrating into the cave. This indicates that we had reached a shallow point below the surface.

We found a passage that had a cone of dirt and rocks pouring out of it that we thought might be the actual paleo entrance and the source of the bones. I'm now calculating that this area is about 6-feet below the surface, based on a radio location done in the Chamber of Lost Souls. Another side passage in the area led into a small (18-foot diameter) room with lots of formations in it. This included one massive stalagmite, flowstone, popcorn, draperies and dozens of soda straws. The second dome we surveyed went up through a mass of choke stones and into a room right above the Chamber of Lost Souls. We ran out of time and were only able to survey the room itself. Four phreatic tubes exited the room, one off each side. They continue in the NW-SE trend of the Chamber of Lost Souls. We surveyed a total of 330 feet, with an average shot length of 10 feet. We left seven leads for a return trip.

Click here to return to Caving Narratives.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

Contact Us