Activities For Dogs In Wind Cave National Park

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Introduction

The Wind Cave National Park is known for the extensive cave systems that can be found all throughout the park. The park is located in South Dakota and was first established in 1903 by the 26th President of the United States - Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. The park holds the distinction of being the first cave that was re-purposed to serve as a national park in the entire world, being the 7th national park to have been established in America. Dogs are allowed to visit the Wind Cave National Park thought they must be kept on a leash at all times and can only visit certain areas.

Camping and Picnics

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
12 - 48 hrs
Items needed
Tent
Bedding
Food and Water
First Aid Kit
Leash
Waste bags
Activity description
The folks who overlook the Wind Cave National Park welcome dogs in the camping and picnic areas that are located in the park, so long as they remain leashed and close to their human companions at all times. These camping and picnic areas contain a number of amenities that you and your pet can use to make your trip easier. Each camp area has a few benches that you and your dog are welcome to use as well as few water stations during certain times of the year. You won't need to spend much to get your hands on everything you and your pet will need for this trip - $80 to $120 should cover all your needs. Try to do this activity with your dog during the warmer, sunnier times of the year so that the experience can be had at its best.
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Wind Cave camping
The Wind Cave National Park's camping areas have a very old school, vintage feel to them. This means that these spaces don't have some of the fancier bells and whistles that you might find at other camping areas. The benefit to that, however, is that you and your dog will have much more room to camp and play around in since the campgrounds only contain the bare essentials.
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Wind Cave picnicking
The park doesn't come with any grills or anything like that, so you'll want to bring foods that are easy to prepare and don't require too many tools or utensils. At the most, you'd probably be able to roast a few things to eat if you can safely create a reliable and functional fire. Watch your dog at all times around the fire in case they do not distinguish that heat can hurt.
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Prairie Vista Nature Trail

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
20 min
Items needed
Leash
Backpack
Snacks
Water
Waste Bags
Activity description
The Prairie Vista Nature Trail is one of the few select trails that pet parents can walk across with their dogs. This is one of the shortest and easiest trails that the Wind Cave National Park has to offer, stretching out for about a mile and never rising above a 187 foot elevation level. The average person needs about 10 minutes to traverse one mile, so it'll take you and your dog about 20 minutes to travel the length of this trail. You won't have to spend much money on this activity either, as the trail is open to the public. The Prairie Vista Nature Trail is very scenic by nature, so try to visit during a sunny day to get the most out of this trip.
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Rules of the road
Well, this isn't exactly a road but we think the idea still sticks. Just keep a few things in mind while you and your dog are traveling together. Number one, you and your dog are guests - be respectful and mindful of the trail's native inhabitants at all times. Secondly, stick together and never lose sight of your dog. Lastly, Don't try to stay on the trail if the sun is going down.
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Easy does it
On average, a person should be able to walk the entire length of this trail within 20 minutes. That's the entire length of the trail going there and back. You and your dog could move at a brisk pace and complete this trail fairly quickly... or you could take things slow and complete it at your own pace, allowing your dog to take in all of the scents they want.
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High speed hiking
You and your dog can also try to complete this trail in less than 20 minutes as a sort of time attack challenge. The trick is that you can't run at full speed on this trail, as there will likely other people walking around you. At best, you can lightly jog with your dog but you'd have to do so at your own discretion. We've found that it's best to just briskly walk in these sorts of areas for the safety of everyone there.
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Elk Mountain Nature Trail

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Sunny Day
Expensive
Hard
45 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash
First aid kit
Walking Sticks
Backpack
Water and snacks
Waste Bags
Activity description
The Elk Mountain Nature Trail is the most difficult trail that one could attempt to traverse with their pets while they're visiting the Wind Cave National Park. This trail runs for about 2.5 miles in total, meaning that it will take you and your pet about 40 minutes to 1 hour to complete this trail going to and fro. Moreover, this trail also has a peak elevation gain of 1,201 feet; the trail peaks in the middle, so you and your dog will need to be prepared to travel in a high altitude area before committing to this trail. The supplies you'll need to travel through this trail can be a bit pricey, but the payback will be tenfold, for your dog especially! We also recommend only attempting this trail during the sunnier times of the year to reduce the possibility of you and your dog getting caught in a mudslide.
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Smart budgeting
With $200, you can get a reliable pair of hiking shoes, a backpack, and plenty of nutritional and medical supplies to pack into it. Your task will be to figure out how much of a particular type of supply you need as well as what you can omit from your bag altogether. This trail is very long and fairly challenging, so we encourage to try and travel as lightly as you can. Your pup may be keen to wear a backpack, so let them carry the water and snacks.
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The climb
This trail is essentially one giant mound; you and your dog will need to hike up and down the slopes of this trail two times. That's a very difficult task by default, but it will become even more difficult if you get winded mid-trip. Breath evenly and try not to move through this trail too quickly. Keep an eye on your dog's fatigue level as well and make sure they are well hydrated.
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More Fun Ideas...

Videography

If you're more of the vlogging, Snapchatting, Instagramming type then you should consider recording some of your trip with your phone or a full-fledged DSLR camera. You can create something of a mini-documentary that features yourself and your dog, edit your footage with video editing software, and then post it all online for the world to see.

Landscape Photography

Places like the Wind Cave National Park are perfect for letting your inner shutterbug loose and attempting to take as many scenic pictures of the environment as you can. You can have your dog stand still and serve as the primary subject in a number of the pictures you take as well!

Conclusion

The Wind Cave National Park still has a number of attractions that dogs can experience despite not being able to visit some of the park's other areas, making the area a worthwhile tourist destination if you and your pet are out in South Dakota. Being one of the last few wilderness areas to remain relatively untouched by mankind, the agencies and organizations that look over the park are naturally very concerned with trying to preserve the land, and the wildlife that inhabits it, for as long as possible. So if you're feeling a little disappointed that you can't take your dog inside any of the park's caves, take solace in the fact that you and your dog will be doing your part to preserve the area by abiding by the park's rules.