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Wind Cave National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the United States. Its prairie grasslands and forests are home to bison, elk, and a variety of other wildlife. The park's namesake Wind Cave is one of the most complex and longest caves in the entire world with a maze of passages leading past awe-inspiring boxwork. Book an RV in Custer County to view this incredibly rare mineral structure unique to North America.
Wind Cave National Park also makes an excellent base camp for exploring nearby cities. Hot Springs is less than 20 minutes south of the park, while Custer is 20 minutes north. No matter where the open road takes you on your South Dakota road trip, plan on RV camping at Wind Cave National Park and step back in time at the parks, monuments, and museums this treasure trove of American history has to offer.
Many people flock to Wind Cave National Park to visit its extensive cave system; however, there are so many other activities to enjoy while camping with an RV at the park. This national park may be on the smaller side, but its 28,000 acres protect a variety of plant and animal species. When visiting, you can expect to see prairie dogs and pronghorn antelope, along with many other animals and birds.
Avid hikers like camping at Wind Cave National Park so they can enjoy the park's 30-mile trail network. When hiking in the park, stick to the trails and don't wander off into the prairie grasslands or forests. On your trek, stay alert for the big beasts which roam through the park. Hiking trails are categorized into easy, moderate, and strenuous. Know your physical limits and choose the appropriate trails for your capabilities. One of the easiest trails to hike is the Elk Mountain Trail, which is just over a mile long and winds its way around Elk Mountain Campground. The Highland Creek Trail is one of the most strenuous in the park and is just under nine miles in length.
Wind Cave National Park campers should also plan to tour Wind Cave. Tours are only available during the summer months and by reservation only. Each tour lasts about four hours. Visitors are advised to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and sturdy lace-up shoes with non-slip soles. Anyone under the age of 16 is not allowed on the tour. You'll have to crawl through some parts of the cave, so expect to get dirty and wet on this excursion.
Most national park RV campgrounds offer guests a unique, scenic camping experience, and Wind Cave National Park is no exception. Elk Mountain Campground is located on the edge of the prairie and backs to the forest, giving campers a great view of the Black Hills. This campground doesn't provide showers, dump stations, or hookups. Water and flush toilets are available during warm months; vault toilets are available year-round. The pull-through sites in Loop B accommodate RVs of all shapes and sizes.
In the unlikely event that Wind Cave National Park's campground is full, the Hot Springs/Black Hills KOA is a great alternative located within minutes of the park, at the southern end of the Black Hills. This KOA offers full hookups for RVs, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and laundry facilities. Guests can also enjoy a heated pool, a lively game of basketball or volleyball, or just sit back and watch the kids play at the playground.
Alternatively, park your rental RV at Custer’s Gulch RV Park and Campground near Custer, less than half an hour from Wind Cave National Park. Full RV hookups are available here, as well as Wi-Fi and modern restroom facilities.
When visiting Wind Cave National Park, take a trip to Keystone, home of the famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This national treasure is less than an hour from Wind Cave and is a great place to spend the day or camp in an RV. Ranger-guided tours are available, or you can strike out on your own and explore the Sculptor’s Studio and Lincoln Borglum Museum. Visit during May through September and watch the Evening Sculpture Lighting Ceremony.
Make time to visit the Pioneer Museum, which showcases artifacts and treasures from the Old West. You can view pioneer-era cooking stoves, washing machines, kerosene lamps, and even a replica of a doctor's office from the period. Explore dozens of exhibits, marvel at local art, walk through a 19th-century classroom, and visit a general store stocked with supplies pioneers would have needed.
Prefer something a little more luxurious? Hot Springs, Arkansas isn't the only place with warm, healing waters. Hot Springs, South Dakota's own Evans Plunge Mineral Springs are located in the valley. Today, visitors can soak in the same warm waters the Lakota and Cheyenne used to soothe a variety of ailments.