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Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD –Cave tour visitation was up 9.8% over last year at Wind Cave National Park for 2015 when 109,335 people toured the world's sixth-longest cave. This is the most people through the cave since 1971, before tours were limited to 40 people.
"This year the National Park Service is celebrating its Centennial, and we're encouraging everyone to Find Your Park. Many people found their park here last year, and we're looking forward to the possibility of breaking this record again this year," said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila.
Rangers, park guides, and interns led 3,769 tours through Wind Cave last year for visitors from across the country and the world. Just over 70% of the visitation occurred between June 1 and September 1. The busiest days were Tuesdays and Wednesdays and any day that it rained.
In an era when tour sizes were not limited, 1968 saw the highest annual cave tour visitation with 138,348 people through the cave. The park's largest tour on record, 210 people, occurred in 1966 on a tour that nowadays would have been limited to 40 people. Because of limiting tour sizes and rerouting Highway 385 to by-pass the park visitor center, park staff believe the historic 1968 figure will never be exceeded.
For those wishing to Find Your Park this year, the park will be offering free tours on Monday, January 18, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Tours will begin at the park visitor center at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Because tour sizes are limited, people are encouraged to arrive a little early.