Hidden Treasures in the Black Hills Caverns
In 1882, a group of gold miners set out to build their fortunes by panning for some of the country’s most sought after material.
Of course, these miners weren’t the first to witness the glory of the underground in the Black Hills. The Lakota Indians had been making home in the area for quite some time, and they had been using the calcite crystals for strength and power before the land was settled by pioneers. The Lakota Indians used the cave as a place for spirituality. Today, visitors can trek through the caverns on adventurous guided tours.
Plant and Animal Life
Because of the dark and damp atmosphere of the caves, plants have a difficult time thriving inside of the walls. And because there are not a lot of plants for consumption, animals are also scarce. There are, however, some bats around the entrance of the cave. Bats use the caves as a brooding place for their young, and due to the constant temperature, they also hibernate in the cave. But don’t let them frighten you; bats are not the evil creatures of lore, they typically stay out of the way of visitors.
With little-to-no animal and plant species, the Black Hills Caverns are more of a geologist’s dream than a biologist’s. They are made up of two types of limestone, coeymans and manlius, which were formed in different time periods in the planet’s history. Some rock and crystal formations include:
- Soda Straw Stalactites: You can imagine where these formations got their name. Often called “tubular stalactites”, these thin and hollow formations drip water out of their tips, and they appear to be straws dripping soda.
- Popcorn Crystals: It’s all in the name. These rocks have crystals on them that look like a bag of popped popcorn. Hungry yet?
- Nailhead Spar: Nailhead spars are often the blunter crystals that take the rhombohedral form, and they resemble the head of a nail.
And much, much more. To get a better idea of the rocks and crystals the caves have to offer, head on down for one of the daily tours through the caverns.
Cave forming isn’t something that happens overnight; it takes thousands of years for a cave to form. Limestone is made up of shells and skeletons of animals that lived in the sea which covered the state millions of years ago. It dissolves more easily in water than most other rocks. When water enters the cracks, it dissolves the mineral and we’re left with an opening, or a mouth of a cave. After millions of years of forming, the crystals are ready for you to enjoy.
Rave for the Cave
Nothing takes your breath away quite like thousands of shimmering crystal formations in the underground tunnels known as the Black Hills Caverns. When you step into the dark underworld, you’ll be taken away to a land of grandeur and elegance, where you can imagine the Lakota Indians seeking shelter and unearthing spirits. You can almost see the early pioneers being awed by the magic of the place.
Location & Hours
The Black Hills Caverns are open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm during peak season. They are located 4 miles west of Rapid City on Highway 44. There are two different tour options, the Crystal Tour and the Adventure Tour. Ticket prices range from $6.95 to $12.95, depending on the age and the chosen tour. You can also pan for gemstones when you’re finished touring. For more information, please visit the homepage here.