Wind Cave National Park

Eric's Three-Day Road Trip to Colorado

Somehow, I was able to spot a small gravel side road called Lame Johnny Road without the help of my smartphone — and that beautiful, rust-colored road provided the path that I followed into Wind Cave National Park. It felt like a secret passageway. And almost immediately upon entering the park, I saw ten pronghorns. And after winding my way down the east side of the park, I skimmed the park’s southern border until I reached the main, south, entrance — where I was greeted by a small herd of bison!

Eric's Three-Day Road Trip to Colorado

I had just enough time before sunset to get to the Visitors Center (which was closed) and walk around to the original opening in the earth, the portal between the world as we know it and the underworld — the spot known to the native peoples as Maia Oniye. This spot was how Wind Cave got its name. It was cooler than I thought (both literally and figuratively).

Since I was almost out of daylight, however, I decided that I needed to find my lodgings for the night in Hot Springs. And after a good night’s sleep, I would return to Wind Cave National Park in the morning.

Eric's Three-Day Road Trip to Colorado

The next morning, I drove straight to the trailhead for Centennial Trail and Lookout Point Trail. By adding in a little connector section of the Highland Creek Trail, I was able to make a loop of almost eleven miles. I had the trails to myself, except for a couple of encroachments from large, male bison (I gave them a wide berth, as I continued on my way). The hike was glorious! I saw all kinds of amazing wildlife:

Bison: ~ 50 🦬
Pronghorn Antelope: 3 😍
Prairie Dogs: ~ 500 🐹
Wild Turkeys: 7 🦃
Mule Deer: 3 🦌
Rattlesnakes: 0 🤠
Humans: 4 (just one group, around the 9-mile mark) 🧢

Eric's Three-Day Road Trip to Colorado

It really was an amazing place to explore! I feel like Wind Cave National Park is an under-appreciated part of the National Park System. And even in terms of Wind Cave National Park, the caves are the headliner, the namesake (though the elevator system is being updated for most of the second half of 2024, so it was unavailable for me to tour). Still, the surface of Wind Cave National Park was amazing! I honestly think that Wind Cave National Park might now be in my personal Top Ten National Parks, even without being able to see the caverns. 😳

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