Geology

Wind Cave is located in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota, which author John McPhee calls "the eastern preamble to the Rocky Mountains". Though their geology is unique, the origin of the Black Hills is closely tied with the mountain building events that rose the Rocky Mountains. For many millions of years before uplift, the area which the Hills occupy has fluctuated between ocean, coastline and inland environments. Many layers of rocks were deposited over this time. One rock layer in particular, the Paha Sapa Limestone, is representative of a marine environment and is host to most of the caves in the Black Hills. This includes Wind Cave, Jewel Cave and others.
 
A ridge and cliff jutting out from the prairie.

Park Geology

Explore the park's geology and how it relates to the Black Hills region.

A caver squeezes through a space in the cave.

Cave Geology

Find out how this complex maze of passageways formed.

Boxwork formation

Boxwork

Boxwork is rare to find, but abundant in Wind Cave. Find out how this unique cave formation, or speleothem, formed.

A clump of frostwork in the dark.

Speleothems

Wind Cave is home to many unique cave formations, also called speleothems. Click the link to learn more.

A brachiopod shell imprinted in the cave.

Paleontology

Wind Cave National Park is home to many stories, including the 300 million year old story of its inhabitants.

A road snakes into the distance surrounded by green prairie.

Geology Driving Tour

See a slice of Black Hills geology on the geology driving tour.

Last updated: October 30, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747

Phone:

(605) 745-4600

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