Wind Cave National Park

I saw this guy resting by the road.  Fortunately I didn’t disturb him when I stopped to take a picture from the car (he wasn’t very far away).

Wind Cave is one of the lesser known National Parks.  It is north of Hot Springs, SD.  It is relatively small compared to other parks, although it does contain the largest remaining mixed-grass prairie in the United States.  There IS a large cave under the property which experiences strong wind currents in and out of the entrance due to atmospheric changes, hence the name.  In fact, the cave is the 6th longest in the world and contains 95% of the world’s calcite formations known as “boxwork”.  It is also what is known as a three-dimensional maze cave.  (See, the things you learn on JohnBoy’s blog…). I did not go in the cave.

I did, however, follow the advice on the map of the park and after driving the entire paved portion of the road ventured off on to two unpaved roads (approved for visitors).  The map stated that one might have a better chance of spotting wildlife on these less traveled roads, and it was right.  Not long after seeing this dude I saw a large herd, probably 50 or more, including many young bison.  I have pictures but they were pretty far off the road.  I did get to use my spiffy new binoculars, though, and the bison were fun to watch.

I saw more bison later in the day, as well as some wild burros – all of them free range.  Didn’t see any other critters except more prairie dogs.  It was mid-day and I suspect the pronghorn (antelope), elk and coyotes were sheltering in place.  It wasn’t nearly as hot today, only 84 for the high.  Yesterday the afternoon rain storms passed south of where I was and today they passed by north of me.  Once I continued north and got in the rain-cooled air it dropped into the low 70’s and I could open the sunroof for the rest of the day.

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