Physical Science Specialist Rod Horrocks said, This also makes us the
third-longest cave in the country, behind Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
and Jewel Cave near Custer. This achievement is the culmination of
decades of efforts by numerous cavers.
Exploration efforts at Wind Cave began in the early 1880s and by 1893
it is believed 6 to 8 miles of passages had been discovered, many by
teenager Alvin McDonald. Modern exploration began in the late 1950s
with cavers from Colorado taking up where McDonald left off. Wind
Cave was thought to be a small cave until Chicago caver, and now Hot
Springs resident, John Scheltens lead four consecutive summer
expeditions in the early 1970s that expanded the number of known
unexplored holes in the cave from the hundreds into the thousands.
Horrocks added, Since 1991, we have hosted monthly exploration trips
by members of local caving clubs. With numerous caves in Colorado
closed due to snow this time of year, many of our explorers drive up
from the Denver area for a weekend of caving. Over the years, these
cavers have helped the park inventory features, correct surveying
errors, and collect data such as water samples.
To learn more about exploration at Wind Cave, visit the park’s
website at www.nps.gov/wica/Home.htm. Ranger lead tours of Wind Cave
are offered year-around. Currently, tours are offered of the Garden
of Eden area of the cave at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.