Day 5 – the day of mist, rain and dense fog before the expected 6″ of snow fall and subsequent 27 degree morning temp. We wisely decided to move to a camper cabin before the unseasonably cold and snowy weather moved in. It was a bit damp and breaking down the tent was not on my to do list at this point. The cabin was a short distance from our tent site; relocating camp was easily accomplished. We left the tent up in hopes that mist/rain would subside and breeze would dry things out and headed for Wind Cave National Monument.
Hidden beneath the rolling prairie of the southern Black Hills is one of the world’s longest caves. Swaying prairie grasses, forested hillsides, and an array of wildlife such as bison, elk, and prairie dogs welcome visitors to one of our country’s oldest national parks and one of its few remaining intact prairies. Secreted beneath is one of the world’s longest caves, Wind Cave. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this complex labyrinth of passages contains a unique formation – boxwork.
There are a few different cave tours to choose from, we went on the Natural Entrance tour. It was a lot of stairs, but they are mostly all down. The elevator that takes you back to the surface is lower in the shaft than the level you entered the cave on. Here are some iPhone shots on the monument grounds and inside the cave. Great tour.
It was still very foggy and misting some when we left Wind Cave. Once back at the campground it was time to take advantage of the break in the mist/rain. Packing away a wet tent is never any good. The rain fly was a bit damp, but that is all; it would dry quickly in the cabin.
The day was still young and there was much of the Custer State Park to explore. We drove up to Mt. Coolidge Fire Tower in a blanket of fog. There were breaks at times that offered somewhat of a view. At 6023 ft. I am sure the view is dandy on a clear day. From there we explored North Lame Johnny Road (CSP4) as we made our way toward the donkeys down by the Buffalo Corrals. We were a bit disappointed to find no donkeys around especially since we were toting two large bags of carrots. Perhaps they were driven away by yesterdays stampede. We headed South on Red Valley Road (CSP6) into Wind Cave National Park where we spotted some Elk at a great distance. We would have liked to get a bit closer, but that opportunity never arose. We made a big loop South in Wind Cave Nation Park and came back around North and headed for Custer. The light was getting low and our stomachs where empty. [[Custer State Park Map for reference]]
Here are a few shots from Lame Johnny and Red Valley roads. Beautiful country and a bit of wildlife as well. Another great day in the hills.