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The Wind Cave National Park was the first cave anywhere in the world to be given the title of a national park and is the third-longest cave in the US too!
The Wind Cave National Park is also the seventh national park of the United States. It was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.
Roughly 95% of the world's discovered boxwork formations are found in the Wind Cave. The first discovery of the wind cave entrance was recorded to be in 1881 by two brothers, Tom and Jesse Bingham. These brothers were drawn to the cave by a strange whistling noise accompanied by the wind.
In the due course of time, many experts and scientists were able to determine that the wind and air flows in and out of the wind cave are due to a difference in air pressure inside the cave and the wind outside. A large cave like the Wind Cave, which has small openings, will only 'breathe' much louder than a small cave with large openings! Many American Indians and Native Americans, specifically the Lakota, who are indigenous people and live in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, consider it to be sacred and holy. During the late 1800s, it was found that the cave was not suitable for mining purposes, and so, landowners began to offer cave tours, and eventually, a hotel was built to attract visitors. These tours that were held earlier were physically demanding, and sometimes they had to crawl through the narrow passages. The Wind Cave National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota, in Cluster County.
The Wind Cave National Park's wildlife species and natural history are also quite popular among the common folk. The area of the national park has about 28,295 acres (11,450 ha) of pine forests and prairies and is home to a wide range of plant and animal species like elk, black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, antelopes, wild turkeys, mule deer, and the prairie bison, or American buffalo.
Wind Cave National Park is particularly well-known for its dual preservation goals: for the conservation of its distinct mixed-grass prairie habitat and wildlife and for the protection of its cave system, for which it is named. The three levels that make up the wind cave system are situated in the upper part of the Mississippian Pahasapa Limestone. Sedimented in an inland sea, the deposits of chert, anhydrite lenses, and gypsum in the limestone are proof of high periods of evaporation.
By visiting the wind cave, you can do a number of fun activities with your family and friends, like going on hiking trails, nature trails, scenic drives, and bicycle riding! However, backcountry camping requires a free permit that you can get at the visitor center. There is no entrance fee for the Wind Cave National Park, but you will have to pay a small fee for the cave tours and cave exploration. There were so many wind cave explorations done by a large number of people between 1890-1903. The most famous one is the cave diary that was kept by Alvin McDonald, who fell in love with almost everything about the cave! Interestingly, the bison herd found at Wind Cave National Park is one of the only genetically pure and free-roaming herds in Northern America. The other three herds are said to be the Henry Mountains bison herds on Elk Island in Alberta, Canada, and in Utah.
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