Hiking

East Bison Flats Trail marker
East Bison Flats Trail with Buffalo Gap visible in the distance.

NPS

 

Over 30 miles of hiking trails meander through mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine forest. Mileages listed below are one-way unless otherwise noted. Go prepared:

  • Carry and drink plenty of water.
  • Check the weather forecast before starting and bring extra layers.
  • Large wildlife, including bison, elk, and mountain lions roam throughout the park. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Regulations require at least 25 yards from bison and elk at all times.
  • Topographic maps for each trail are available at the links below or can be purchased at the visitor center bookstore. Off-trail hiking is allowed and may be the best way to avoid large wildlife.

Easy Trails

Elk Mountain - This short loop trail winds around the Elk Mountain Campground. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail. Download the Elk Mountain Trail Nature Guide or pick up a copy at the trailhead. (1.2 miles)

Prairie Vista - Begin this loop trail at the Visitor Center or at the picnic area just north of the visitor center. Waysides provide information along the way. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail. (1 mile)

Rankin Ridge - Gain spectacular views from the highest point in the park. This nature trail, like those above, is a loop great for families or those with little time to explore. Download the Rankin Ridge Nature Trail Guide or pick up a copy at the trailhead. (1 mile)

Wind Cave Canyon (#2) - This former road follows Wind Cave Canyon to the park boundary. Limestone cliffs provide nesting areas for swallows and wrens, while woodpeckers lurk among the dead snags of the forested hillsides. (1.8 miles)

 

Moderate Trails

Cold Brook Canyon (#1) - An initial descent drops you in to the canyon, which can be followed to the park boundary. Cross a prairie dog town along the way and look for falcons and other raptors nesting along the cliffs. (1.4 miles)

Lookout Point (#4) - Follow the rolling hills of the prairie then descent to Beaver Creek. This trail can be combined with parts of the Highland Creek and Centennial trails to make a 4.5-mile loop. (2.2 miles)

 

Strenuous Trails

Sanctuary (#5) - This trail follows the rolling prairie and crosses a large prairie dog town. Look close to see evidence of former homesteads in the area. The trail ends where it meets the Highland Creek Trail. (3.6 miles)

East Bison Flats (#3) - Panoramic views of the prairie, Buffalo Gap, and the Black Hills. (3.7 miles)

Centennial (#6/89) - The southernmost part of a 111-mile trail through the Black Hills. Here the trail crosses prairies, ponderosa forests, and winds along Beaver Creek. (6 miles)

Highland Creek (#7) - The longest and most diverse trail in the park. Experience prairies and forests as well as riparian habitats along Highland and Beaver creeks and Wind Cave Canyon. (8.6 miles)

Boland Ridge (#8) - Climbing from the Red Valley off Road NPS 6, the trail offers panoramic views of the Black Hills to the west and the Great Plains to the east. Elk are often seen in this area. (2.6 miles)

 
Wind Cave National Park hiking trails
Hiking trails at Wind Cave National Park.
 

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747

Phone:

(605) 745-4600
Park information

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