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Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
WINDCAVE NATIONAL PARK, SD –Rangers at Wind Cave National Park will be offering a variety of interpretive programs this summer. Thirty tours a day will be offered through the world's sixth-longest cave each day beginning at 8:40 a.m. with the last tour entering the cave at 6 p.m. In addition, there will be tours of the Sanson Buffalo Jump and bird walks.
A free three-hour tour of the Sanson Buffalo Jump will be offered on Saturdays from June 13 to July 25 beginning at 8:45 a.m. at the park visitor center. From there, participants will car caravan out to the Sanson Ranch. Dress for the weather and bring water, sunscreen, and hiking shoes. The 1.5 mile hike is moderately strenuous.
People interested in exploring the park's bird life should meet at the visitor center at 9 a.m. on Mondays to join a ranger for a 2-hour bird walk in the vicinity of the visitor center. If you have them, bring binoculars and a bird identification book. The program is free and runs from June 22 to July 27.
Walking tours through the cave along the Natural Entrance, Fairgrounds, Garden of Eden, and Candlelight Tours to the Pearly Gates will be given daily. Fees range from $10 to $12, with children and Senior Pass holders half price. Children 5 and under are free. The minimum age for the Candlelight Tour is 8 years.
For the more adventurous, half-day cave crawling tours are led through a non-developed section of cave. Each participant is given a headlamp and kneepads before following their guide into a wild section of cave. Cost of this tour is $30;participants must be at least 16 years of age. Tours are offered daily through July 31, then weekends only beginning August 1 through September 6.
All cave tours begin at the visitor center that is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors will need a light coat or sweater and sturdy shoes. Reservations are recommended for the more strenuous Candlelight and Wild Cave Tours; otherwise, all tours are first come, first served.
Rangers will end the day with a nightly program at the Elk Mountain Campground. Through August 2, campfire programs begin at 9 p.m. From August 3 to September 7, call the park for times. Topics change nightly.
For those wanting to wander off the beaten track, the park hosts 44 square miles of prairie and forest. People can use the 30 miles of existing park trails or strike off on their own. Horses are allowed in the backcountry; obtain a permit at the park's visitor center before beginning. For more information, call the park at (605) 745-4600 or visit www.nps.gov/wica.