Resource Ramblings 2007-06

General Stuff

This issue of Resource Ramblings is dedicated to providing natural resource facts about the Park that you may or may not be aware of. If you find this interesting or useful, please come see the Resource Management Staff for additional facts.

Wind Cave National Park

The park consists of 28,295 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest, and shrublands.


Wind Cave is located below a 1.1 by 1.3 mile rectangle and directly under 600 acres in the south-west portion of the park. Wind cave is currently 124.53 miles long with a depth of 639 feet (from highest point to lowest point in the cave). There are four entrances to Wind Cave: Natural Entrance (natural), Walk-In (man-made), Elevator (man-made), and Snake Pit (modified natural). The volume of the cave is 54,221,440 cubic feet. The temperatures in Wind Cave average 53° F near entrance, 55° deeper in cave, and 58° at the lakes.


Length in Miles

Length of all tour routes


Length of all paved tour routes


Candlelight Tour


Natural Entrance Tour


Fairgrounds Tour


Garden of Eden Tour


A total of 42 other caves are scattered throughout the Park.


There are three perennial streams within the park (Beaver, Highland, and Cold Brook Creeks) for approximately 4 miles of total stream length.

There are 94 documented springs within the park. Due to drought conditions less than 1/3 of them are currently flowing.

Average precipitation for Wind Cave National Park is 17.76 inches (using 56 year average).


An abundance of parameters are monitored at the Park's air quality monitoring station, including hydrogen, sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, chloride, base cations, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and meteorological data.


There are approximately 300 deer in the Park with about ¼ of them white-tailed deer and ¾ mule deer.

There are between 90-100 Pronghorn in the Park. These numbers may rise as fawns are born (first 2 weeks in June).

During the winter of 2006-7 there were approximately 650 elk in the Park with approximately 350-400 of them remaining in the Park now. There are 54 elk with gps collars on for migration and distribution studies.

There are 350-400 bison in the Park, except between calving season (April/May) and prior to roundup (October) when the numbers may increase to 450-500.

Average Wind Cave bison weights (data from 1966-2006):

  • Cows - 922 lbs.
  • Bulls - 1,497 lbs.
  • 1.5 year olds - 626 lbs.
  • 0.5 year olds - 297 lbs
  • New born calves (previous WICA research) ~40 lbs.

At present there are approximately 2,400 acres of prairie dog colonies within the Park. 2007 mapping is in process.

The Park has the following number of documented species:

  • 215 species of birds
  • 53 mammal species, including 11 species of bats
  • 9 species of reptiles
  • 6 species of amphibians
  • 7 fish species
  • 61 butterfly species
  • 17 dragonflies Ø 17 damselflies
  • 26 snail species

When the Park receives ferrets it will be the only place in the world that you can find bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, white-tailed deer, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets all in the same location.

From 1998-present 173 cervids have been tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) with the following results:

  • 42 elk (9 positives, 33 Negative, 0 pending)
  • 108 mule deer (7 positives, 101 Negative, 0 pending)
  • 23 WT deer (1 positives, 21 Negative, 1 pending)


The Park has 555 plant species including 453 native and 102 exotic species. Exotic species include cultivated plants (e.g. grape hyacinths, tulips, apple trees, lilacs) as well as noxious weeds.

The mapped vegetation types in the Park and their calculated acreages are as follows:

  • mixed-grass prairie 17,681 acres (62.6%);
  • riparian/wet meadow 29 acres (0.1%);
  • shrublands 2,142 acres (7.6%);
  • coniferous forests/woodlands 8,122 acres (28.8%);
  • hardwood forests/woodlands 87 acres (0.3%);
  • landscaped vegetation (lawns, campgrounds, trails, etc.) 171 acres (0.6%); and
  • open water 4 acres (0.01%)

Comments and feedback about Resource Ramblings are encouraged and should be directed to Dan Foster, in person, or via email.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747


(605) 745-4600

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