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The Caves of the Black Hills

The beauty of the Black Hills is clear and apparent from above ground. The towering hills and numerous trees giving the hillside a black look from above leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the beauty in western South Dakota is exceptional. But don’t forget about underground. What many people may not know is that deep beneath the towering Black Hills are miles upon miles of crystalized caves and caverns. From the vast openness of Wind Cave National Park to the crystallized stalagmites and stalactites of the Jewel Cave National Monument, there are many miles to caves to explore deep beneath the peaks of the Black Hills.

Jewel Cave National Monument

The Jewel Cave National Monument is much more than the miles of crystal lined cave walls beneath ground. The national monument is well known for being the third-longest cave in the world, but also features 1,279 acres of trails and beautiful views to take in while above ground. So whether you’re a mountain climber or a cave dweller, there are beautiful sights to be seen at Jewel Cave. For those brave souls who venture below ground, they’ll be greeted with spires wrapped in calcite crystals that are lit barely by the sky outside. Tours are offered through the cave in varying degrees of difficulty. Jewel Cave National Monument has over 175 miles of surveyed passages, while more is constantly being discovered. For those who wish to stay above ground will find numerous walking trails with breathtaking views of the Black Hills that are always worth taking in. Locate Jewel Cave on Google Maps

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Wind Cave National Park

Another especially unique park, Wind Cave National Park was the first cave to receive national park status in the nation. But it doesn’t stop there. Wind Cave isn’t just a cave. The park also features a 28,295 acre wildlife sanctuary on the surface of the cave. Inside, the cave has the world’s largest concentration of rare honeycomb-patterned calcite rock formations that cover the cave walls. Wind Cave currently spans over 140 miles and explorers are still navigating through the webs beneath the Black Hills surface to find more passages. With the cavernous passages below and the wildlife refuge above, the whole park spans an impressive 33,851 acres and the wildlife refuge is home to a unique ecosystem that houses elk, buffalo, antelope, deer, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets. Tours of the Wind Cave National Park are also available for those brave souls who wish to enter the depths of the Black Hills. Locate Wind Cave National Park on Googe Maps

Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument are the two biggest caves in the Black Hills, but other caves to explore include the Beautiful Wonderland Cave in Sturgis, Black Hills Caverns in Rapid City, and Rushmore Cave in Keystone. It’s a whole different side of the Black Hills that few get to see on their trips!