Friends Of Wind Cave NP

Friends of Wind Cave National Park                                              Winter 2023        


Notes from the President

This past year we worked with the Park to develop a Philanthropic Agreement and Work Plan as required by the National Park Service. The intent of the Philanthropic Agreement is to create a formal understanding between the friends group and the Park that supports fundraising to be done in conjunction with an approved Work Plan. The current workplan is in place until Fall of 2024 and focuses on three key areas; education, exploration and on-going road maintenance.

The only physical project we carried out this year was maintenance of Road 266 that we improved going from the Red Valley Road to the Sanson Ranch property as far as the park boundary.  Even though the Park in that area is closed to any use, it appears that there is enough use of the road to require annual maintenance and at some time possibly more gravel.  The donations we get at the donation box in the visitor center goes into our road fund account and amounts to enough to fund that work.  The weeds along the road will have to be sprayed in the spring also which hasn’t been done for a couple of years.

We had plans to place a donor plaque on the ranch property leading to the house and the buffalo jump and have a donor recognition event, but that is on hold until the Tribes finish with their archaeological study of the property.

We have a new website and a new logo.  Please take a look at
We’re also looking for more photos from Wind Cave (above ground & below), especially if you have some high-resolution photos to share.  And we’re glad to give the photographer credit if we can use them!   Please email them to
Stay tuned, coming next is a new Online Store for T-shirts, Caps & Mugs.

Thank you, board member Randy Peterson, for your hard work upgrading our website and logo.

Friends of Wind Cave National Park

Friends of Wind Cave News

The Friends of Wind Cave met for our annual meeting and election of officers, and we welcomed one new board member: Joe Rogers of Denver, CO. who brings his photography and design skills to the Board.  Officers elected for the next year are:

President – Steve Baldwin

Vice-president – Jim Brickey

Treasurer – Marcy Dimond

Secretary – Colin Keeler

Marcy Dimond agreed to stay on as membership chair and communications coordinator.

Cave Exploration

We received an article from some genuine explores. The article was written by Helene Woyczesczyk:

On March 30th, Chris Pelczarski took John Lang and me into the Northwest Territory of Wind Cave to survey- the biggest trip I had ever been on. We followed a pit lead down and, once we saw it continued around the corner, crawled as fast as we could to find the next curve and continuation of cave. John and I screamed with glee with each new discovery, yelling “IT GOES!!!!” Chris certainly appreciated and understood our enthusiasm. After 235 ft, the passage came to an end and resembled a skinny, bent arm moving NE from the Northwest Territory. It doesn’t lead to more cave, it will serve no purpose to future travelers and it will likely never be revisited. But the discovery of that special place with those special people is a moment that will stick with me for a long, long time.

…but it feels like I’m leaving someone out…

Wind? Are you reading this? I keep thinking about that skinny, bent arm of yours and how Johnny, Chris and I literally screamed with delight every time we turned a corner, or climbed up somewhere and found more. I think about how that 235ft section of dirt-covered passage laid untouched since you were born, millions of years ago. I think about how on our bodies disturbed it and left behind prints that will be there…forever? Wind, tell me, are those passages sitting in darkness, waiting for illumination again? Are they pining for more eyes to take-in their dusty splendor? I guess I’ll never know, but my hope is this: maybe, rather than dreaming of the day more people pass through, those 235ft are resting peacefully, smiling, knowing that, after millions of years of going unnoticed, they were FINALLY found and were oh, SO appreciated

Wind Cave National Park News  

A high resolution lidar and photo dataset of Wind Cave’s historic tour route was collected using state of the art equipment in 2020. Over 100,000 photos and 5 billion measurements were taken to document the route in three dimensions. The Friends of Wind Cave are looking for support to turn this data into a high resolution and interactive model for the public to enjoy. This tour will enable visitors to explore the Historic Tour Route through ranger guided virtual videos, from a computer, or even through a virtual reality headset,  bringing Wind Cave to an audience that cannot experience it in person, for whatever reason.  This model will be featured in Wind Cave’s visitor center but can also be brought to schools and events to foster discovery and exploration. To see a similar model in please check out Great Basin National Park’s Lehman Cave Virtual Tour —  copy and paste this link to your browser to see what our virtual tour will look like.  If you would like to donate to help out in production of this project, you can go to our website

Friends’ Stories (The newsletter section where stories are shared)


The National Speleological Society had their National Convention in Rapid City on last spring. The Friends of Wind Cave sponsored a booth at the Convention.  I had the pleasure of working at the booth along with our president Steve Baldwin.  I very quickly remembered why I enjoy being around passionate, crazy people.

I recalled a conversation I had with one of my granddaughters when my son said that her coach was certifiably crazy.  I looked at her and said, “Is he good crazy or bad crazy”.  She lit up and said, “For sure he is good crazy.”  During my time at the Convention I definitely felt surrounded by good crazy.

This was a convention of people that just plain loved crawling around underground.  I heard stories of crawling through caves to get to what I would describe as a cesspool, to crawling into beautiful rooms and caverns filed with fantastic rock formations.  I heard stories of taking 8 hours to get to a place to set up camp and start the real caving.  This gives new meaning to “it’s all about the journey”.  All of this was fascinating.  I certainly came to understand that caves are truly one of the last frontiers left on our planet.

One of the first people I met was a fellow wearing a pair of unique sandals.   He had a rope system to secure them to his feet that only a person very familiar with rigging and knots could of put together- (a skill I am sure that is a prerequisite to serious caving).   I asked him if he had a patent on that system and he laughed. Turns out he had injured his foot and this was the only foot gear that was comfortable. He told me he was faced with a few choices. He could stay home and nurse his injury, he could come to the conference wear some standard shoes and be miserable or he could come to the conference with his contrived sandals and be comfortable.  I’m sure he went on one of the many cave tours offered at the convention bad foot and all.

I also found out that our president Steve Baldwin is a celebrity in the Black Hills caving world.   I soon came to understand that if there is a hole in the ground in the Black Hills Steve has tried to climb through it.  There were many incidences where people came to the booth to ask Steve about a particular cave.  Most of them he had been in and if he hadn’t been in it, he knew about it and could direct them to people who were familiar with the cave.

On another note – My wife and I had the opportunity to do some travelling across the USA this past year.  We were able to jump in the car drive cross county to the Carolina coast, then down to and Florida to Alabama and then home.   Once again I saw the value of our public lands and how important it is to provide places for people are free to wander around in.

Because this was our first time in the area we visited the more well-known places.  We went to visitor centers and tourist information places.   We saw firsthand the value of public waterways, (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc.), trail systems, city parks, picnic areas, wayside rests and all of the public places where, with some limitations, people are free to enjoy and congregate.

On the public beaches in the Carolinas we were able to walk along the ocean, dance with the waves and watch brown pelicans fishing.  We floated down Silver Creek and had manatees swim under our kayaks. We observed wood storks building nests on Lake Mary Jane.  On the Shark Valley Loop road in the Everglades we were able to get dangerously close (in my opinion) to a momma alligator.  None of these places were secluded- we were enjoying nature with other folks seeking relief from the daily grind.













What does this have to do with the Friends of Wind Cave??? We have already provided access to a new section of the Park.  There are many opportunities for an active “Friends” group to help in the Park.  People need access to the more secluded places, but equally as important is providing interpretive areas and places for people to interact.  We can help with all of that. It is time we all climb out of our Covid caves and get moving again.  We need active members with new ideas.  I sincerely believe protecting and enhancing our public lands is vitally important to the wellbeing of our nation.

I still have the fantasy that someone else may have a story about the Park to share.   We finally got one but I know there is more fun to share.


Give me a call – Bob Hodorff 605-890-2329.



Where Membership Counts:

Nestled in the heart of South Dakota’s picturesque Black Hills, Wind Cave National Park is a hidden gem that draws visitors from across the country and around the world. As with any national park, preserving its natural beauty and unique features is crucial. This is where the Friends of Wind Cave come into play.

The Friends of Wind Cave is a nonprofit organization that plays a vital role in supporting and sustaining this remarkable park. Your membership dollars and donations help fund critical initiatives like habitat restoration, resource protection, and education programs. This ensures that future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy the park’s pristine landscapes and diverse wildlife.

As a member, you’ll have the chance to actively participate in the preservation and maintenance of Wind Cave National Park. Volunteering for events and projects allows you to give back to the park, forge a stronger connection to nature, and meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for conservation.  As a member you will receive information on upcoming projects, volunteer activities and guided experiences.

Becoming a member of the Friends of Wind Cave is a meaningful way to actively contribute to the preservation of one of America’s natural treasures. Wind Cave National Park’s beauty and biodiversity are worth protecting, and the Friends of Wind Cave provide an avenue for individuals to do just that. Joining this community of park enthusiasts allows you to deepen your connection to nature, educate yourself, and actively participate in the park’s preservation, ensuring its continued splendor for generations to come. To become a member or for more information visit our website:





Become a Member of the Friends of Wind Cave Park Today!

If you are not currently a member of the Friends of Wind Cave Park, we, the Board, wanted to request your support by becoming a member today, or by renewing your current membership if you have not already done so!  If your renewal is passing in the mail, thank you in advance for your support!

  • Wind Cave National Park is truly one of our National Treasures. There are many reasons to become a Friend of the Park and receive regular newsletters
  • Be the among first to receive press releases concerning the Park or the Friends group


  • Receive invitations to Members Only events planned for this year, such as hikes, private tours, and events.
  • Most of all, you can be a member of a group of like-minded folks whose only mission is to protect, promote and support this national treasure!

Over the past couple of years, the Friends have provided the materials necessary to construct a safe, attractive access road to the Sanson Ranch property.  See the before and after pictures above.  The final activity being to remove the erosion control waddles.  The Friends agreed to perform annual maintenance on the road as needed until such time as the Park can perform maintenance.    With that project mostly behind us, we will move on to support the park in other areas, plus provide opportunities for our members to participate in unique conservation and interpretation activities planned for this summer.

You can become a member for 2024 today.  Use the form below to mail in your dues or, if you wish, you can do it online with just a couple of clicks.  Simply log in to, and use the first dropdown window to select your membership level, or if you wish to become a life member, use the second dropdown.