Wind Cave National Park is Modifying Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance

WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – Wind Cave National Park is announcing modifications to operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. As of noon on March 18, the Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center is closed until further notice.

This closure only affects the visitor center and cave. Park roads will remain open, as will the park’s 28,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine forest. Visitors can still view the park’s wildlife and hike any of its 30-miles of trails. Highways 385 and 87 will remain open. Gravel roads in the park’s backcountry, NPS 5 and 6, are open, but not maintained in the winter.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the park virtually, either by it’s website,, or on the park’s Facebook page. The website hosts podcasts, information about the park’s wildlife and history, along with hiking and camping activities, which are still available.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Wind Cave National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Wind Cave National Park 26611 U.S. Highway 385 Hot Springs, SD 57747

605-745-4600 phone
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior
Wind Cave National Park 26611 U.S. Highway 385 Hot Springs, SD 57747


Wind Cave Names Acting Superintendent
D Thompson


WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. – David J. Thomson is the Acting Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park following Vidal Dávila’s recent retirement.
“Wind Cave National Park has an incredible team and outstanding resources both above and below the surface,” said Acting Park Superintendent David Thomson. “I look forward to contributing to park efforts, working with our partners, and helping with the leadership transition to a permanent superintendent later this spring.”

Thomson is the Regional Program Manager of the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program of the National Park Service based in Omaha. RTCA provides technical assistance to communities outside the boundaries of National Parks through community led recreation and conservation projects.

Prior to working in Partnerships, Thomson was a park landscape architect at Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. Thomson is also the Regional Accessibility Coordinator and has strong interest in providing an inclusive park experience for all visitors.

Thomson is expected to serve as Wind Cave’s superintendent until early May and will oversee daily operations during this period. Thomson assumed his new role at Wind Cave National Park on January 5. About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at



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Dear Friends and Supporters,

Thank you for your keen interest in Wind Cave National Park, a small and oft-time overlooked treasure of this Nation’s National Park system.   Please check out our Membership page. 

Friends of Wind Cave National Park, authorized as a 501-c-3 charitable non-profit organization, can legally function as the conduit for public support of the important and exciting experience at Wind Cave National Park. We ask for your support and remind you that your donation is tax deductible and serves as a gift for future generations to come! The Friends of Wind Cave greatly assists the Park, since the Park can't spend money outside of its boundaries. We can also accomplish some other needed tasks and goals much more efficiently than the Park, because we aren't bound by some of the federal regulations and red tape.

The Park grew considerably in 2011,when it acquired 5556 acres in the Casey Ranch addition. The addition includes the historic Sanson Ranch, and a 4000 year old buffalo jump. Work in preparation for opening the historic ranch and buffalo jump to the public is currently underway in the park. The critical components are to secure the historic buildings on the site and to make sufficient improvements to assure public safety. Those monies have been designated through certain park channels and this initial work has begun. An access road to the addition was necessary before any of this work could be done.

Since the Park can't spend outside of the Park boundaries, the Friends of Wind Cave raised funds to build a one mile gravel road, nearly completed in 2019. This creates access to the Casey Ranch addition, a necessary improvement from the previous crude two-track dirt trail. The Friends raised nearly $66,000 from its members and others, to accomplish the building of this road. The National Guard was a key factor in the building of the road, or we likely wouldn't have been able to afford this construction project at this time. We still have some work to do the the one mile of road, and we have a commitment for annual maintenance of this road, so Friends members and donors remain essential.

We are planning a celebration to thank all the Friends members and other donors when the additional work inside the Park is completed in the spring of 2020. The significant donors of $1000 and over in this key road project will be recognized into the future on a plaque to be located at the Sanson Ranch.

Again, we thank our members and friends for their support in helping make the vision of opening the Sanson Ranch and buffalo jump for the public a reality. Wind Cave National Park is basically two parks in one, the above ground treasures, as well as the cave itself.


     Friends of Wind Cave National Park



    Friends groups exist across the United States as citizen based advocates for individual national parks. Friends groups are contractual partnerships enabling effective stewardship of these parks.  National Park budgets are established by the US government and typically cover only basic operating expenses.   Friends groups can provide community based fundraising for various projects to enhance the local park's interpretative programs or to maintain or install new infrastructure ranging from trails to buildings. Friends groups can receive and administer your ear-marked donation for specific projects.

    Friends of Wind Cave National Park values your participation, your enthusiasm and generous financial support in helping Wind Cave National Park be one of the true jewels of the National Park system and our national heritage. Please review the other tabs to learn more.



Friends of Wind Cave National Park
Post Office Box 336
Hot Springs, South Dakota

2nd Annual SD State-Wide Giving Day

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