PIERRE, S.D. - Mysterious, alluring and wild, Black Hills caves have stood the test of time and provide enjoyment for today’s visitors, making them some of South Dakota’s Greatest Places.
The caves found in the Black Hills are among the oldest and longest in the world and form one of the largest concentrations of cave passageways on the planet; all are limestone and boast a variety of rare formations. While most haven’t been fully explored, there are several caves throughout the area that are open for the public to experience and enjoy.
Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are both managed by the National Park Service, while the rest of the caves found in the Black Hills are privately owned. Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world and Wind Cave, boasting the world’s largest collection of boxwork formations, was the first to be designated a National Park.
Black Hills residents and visitors are fortunate to have access to a variety of caves that offer their own unique geography, history and interior formations. Because of the incredible diversity amongst the caves, particularly in the physical conditions within each cave, it is important for visitors to consider their physical limitations. Some cave experiences are more strenuous than others; information about physical conditions at each cave can be found on the websites listed below.
Whether you are interested in the rare and famous boxwork formations at Wind Cave National Park or the variety of crystal formations at Beautiful Wonderland Cave, you will soon understand the thrill that comes with discovery subterranean wonders.
Perhaps you wish to stand where early Lakota Native Americans stood in Black Hills Caverns or visit the site of the early Sioux Indian Pageant that took place at Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns in an effort to help preserve Lakota heritage.
For those wanting a good cardio-workout, the Wild Caving tour at Jewel Cave National Monument offers an extremely strenuous, once-in-a-lifetime caving experience. Rushmore Cave not only offers a crowd-pleasing cave experience, but has also recently added a 7-D Gunslinger Motion Theater and Zip Line, both of which guarantee a fun experience for hard-to-please crowds.
For information about visiting the Black Hills, view one day, three day and 6 day trip ideas from the South Dakota Department of Tourism.