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South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park

Adjacent to Custer State Park, 7 mi north of Hot Springs on US 385

The limestone cave got its name due to underground wind currents which appear because of the pressure differences in the various cave levels. In 1881 the cave was discovered, because a whistling sound appeared from the cave when air escaped or entered. This single small port only a few square centimeters in size has been enlarged and is the current entrance.

With its 82 mi the Wind Cave is one of the biggest caves with the largest number of formations in the world. It is the fourth-longest cave of the USA and the seventh-longest of the world. Different tours are offered between $6 and $20; kids may get discounts.

Fee only charged for the the visit of the cave, not for park in which you can observe bisons, elks etc. Cave Tour Fees vary by the different types of tours but you can expect fees between 7 to 25 Dollars. Camping on Elk Mountain Campground is ca. $10 per night.

Another highlight of the region can be found only a few miles away from Custer:
Jewel Cave National Monument
13 mi west of Custer.
This is the third longest cave in the world. More than 120 mi of corridors were measured and there should be even more. The cave got its name because of its honeycombed 'Calcite crystals' (calcite crystals / structures) which under illumination shine like jewels. Elevators transport visitors down, more than 90 m under the surface.
Year-round temperature in the cave: 9C (48F) with 98% humidity!
Open: 8 a.m - 7:30 p.m.
The Monument's surface trails and facilities are available free of charge. Fees are charged for cave tours. Prices and tour descriptions are listed below.

Jewel Cave may only be entered on a ranger-led tour. Cave tours must have a minimum of 2 participants. Tickets are available first come, first served at the Visitor Center or by reservation over the phone.

Admission: ca. 8 $; Children 6-16 years: $4; Kids (0-5 years) are free but need a ticket.

Tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center, ticket kiosk (summer only), or by phone.
Reservations can be made up to seven days in advance for the Scenic and Lantern Tours, and the Jewel Cave Discovery Talk.
Reservations can be made up to one month in advance for the Spelunking Tour, Groups (with an itinerary); and Educational groups that qualify for a fee waiver.
Please call (605) 673-2288, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Mountain Standard Time, to make a reservation using a major credit card.
All reserved tickets must be picked up at least 30 minutes prior to tour time at the Visitor Center.
Teachers may call the Visitor Center to request an educational fee waiver form and information.

All cave tours and talks can sell out at any time of the year, especially when the daily number of tours is limited.
Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for tour availability. Please call the above phone number for information, or visit the official Park Website.

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Document Information
Source: National Park Service; magazinUSA.com
Last modified: 20060611
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