Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wind Cave National Park, SD

We had never heard of this park till the last time we were in Rapid City, a couple of years ago, when we visited Mt Rushmore.  We didn't get a chance to visit then, but decided we'd go this time.  They even had a campground (Elk Mountain) that we could fit in, so we jumped on it.
We were a little concerned when we went to the rest rooms and read a post that warned us to not leave food out because mountain lions have been around the campground the last few weeks.  Hmmm!
We never saw any lions, but on our drive around the park, we found lots of other wildlife, like these Bighorn Sheep.
And of course these adorable little creatures, Prairie Dogs, thousands of them.  And they all are willing to pose for you.
Now, I used to love going into caves and exploring the deep, dark, subterranean mysteries.  But in my current life, I find myself very apprehensive about places like this, even small dark closets.  :-)
Before the NPS took over the management of the park, this was the original hole that was used to gain entry.  I guess the folks a hundred years ago hadn't discovered M&Ms yet...The ranger demonstrates the wind either pulling or pushing the ribbon.  The weather barometric pressure determines this phenomenon. 
 OK, we (er, Nancy) went on the tour with about 20 other folks.  So all the pics from within the cave are hers, so sit back and feast your eyes and claustrophobic inhibitions from deep, dark, bat infested (really only one at the entrance) abyss.
No, no, no, no!  Four Zanax & and half a bottle of Wild Turkey, maybe, but crawling not walking.  No way!  There were lights throughout the tour she said, but still, no way!
Call the meat wagon, Joe just passed out!
I'm sure the cave was very interesting, but pics probably don't it justice.  An hour long tour would be best I guess, but I'll just have to use these pics to see the beauty.  All these formations have names dubbed by the geologists, but I can't remember what they were.
From Wiki:  Wind Cave National Park is10 miles north of the town of Hot Springs in western South Dakota. Established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave is notable for its displays of the calcite formation known as boxwork. Approximately 95 percent of the world's discovered boxwork formations are found in Wind Cave. Wind Cave is also known for its frostwork. The cave is also considered a three-dimensional maze cave, recognized as the densest (most passage volume per cubic mile) cave system in the world. The cave is currently the sixth-longest in the world with 140.47 miles of explored cave passageways,[3] with an average of four new miles of cave being discovered each year.  Above ground, the park includes the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the United States.
I think Nancy took this pic again to amuse me..ha ha!
This tour took 75 minutes.  There are other ours available.  One takes 4 and half hours to complete and they issue you helmets, knee pads & safety glasses as you will be doing mostly crawling thru tight, short passages...call the undertaker, Joe's not breathing...
The rangers said that they have idea how long & deep the cave goes.  They haven't been to either end, yet!  When Nancy finished her tour, the group crowded onto an elevator (no thank you, unless you hand me the other half of the Wild Turkey, maybe), 12 stories down.
Even getting this close gives me the heebie-jeebies...you can hear the wind rushing into the opening.  It's like a subtle roar.  Below is the entrance they use now.  It's a double-door, air-lock entrance, to keep wildlife & humidity out.
Above the subterranean, is a grassy prairie where wildlife have roamed for ions.  Mostly you'll find Native Americans (Lakota/Oglala/Sioux) carrying on the ranch life they have learned over the past 100 years or so.
Above is an active picture of a monitor of the opening I showed earlier.  It shows the direction & speed of wind entering the cave.  That wind must exit somewhere, but they haven't found where yet!  Below, CCC boys in the '30s carrying concrete into the cave in inner-tubes for making steps.
OK, how in the world did this lady, (a pic of a pic from the visitor center) get thru that opening with her long dress?  No way!  Below, again, is what she had to pass thru...Hmmmmm!
That about wraps up our blog to the Wind Cave.  It is for sure a most interesting place, and a National Park to boot!  If in the area, and you like abysses, don't pass it up.  And, don't forget the Wild Turkey.  It helps, even if you don't go in!  :-)
From, Forest City, home of Winnebago RVs, RVing Beach Bums, Thur, Sept 26.