You are here

Cave Tours, Hikes, and Bird Walks Highlight Wind Cave’s Summer Ranger Programs


Wind Cave National Park, S.D. – 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. 

Three-hour free tours of the Sanson Ranch and Buffalo Jump will be offered every Saturday in July. Meet at the park visitor center at 8:45 a.m. dressed for the weather with water, sunscreen, hiking shoes, and insect repellant. Participants will then car caravan out to the Sanson Ranch. The 1.5 mile hike is moderately strenuous and will explore a historic bison jump and homestead.

People interested in exploring the park’s bird life should meet at the visitor center at 9 a.m. on Mondays in July to join a ranger for a 1.5-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.

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 August 19, then weekends only until September 4.

All cave tours begin at the visitor center that is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The building will be closing earlier beginning in August; call the park for times. 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 19, campfire programs begin at 9 p.m. From August 20 to September 4, 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

Photo Caption: Tours of the Sanson Buffalo Jump at Wind Cave National Park will be offered this summer on Saturdays in July. (NPS Photo)

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at


Tom Farrell
Wind Cave National Park
Phone: 605-745-1130