A Christmas Eve(ning) in Wind Cave National Park.

elk  in Wind Cave National Park

These photos were shot over a 61-minute period in Wind Cave National Park this Christmas Eve(ning). The elk is a 6×6.

coyote  in Wind Cave National Park

I have heard of wolves doing what I saw this coyote doing. I think he was hunting mice or some other small creature. The nearest prairie dog town was about 400 feet away. He would be very still for a while, then would suddenly leap a foot or two up in the air, and forward, then come down with his nose right at the ground.

antelope in Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave deer

bison in Wind Cave National ParkThe animals are, top to bottom:  elk, coyote, pronghorn antelope, white tail deer, and bison.

Prescribed fires in Wind Cave continue

Cold Brook prescribed fire
The National Park Service burns Unit #3 of the Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park, October 25, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The National Park Service fire staff at the Northern Great Plains Area has been busy this week in South Dakota. On Monday and Tuesday, along with other federal and state cooperators, they executed the 1,938-acre Norbeck Section 2 prescribed fire. On Friday they accomplished about 200 acres in Jewel Cave National Monument, and on Thursday and Saturday burned two units for 1,199 acres in the Cold Brook project in Wind Cave National Park. They still want to burn a third 1,000-acre unit in the Cold Brook area, but are waiting for a specific smoke dispersion condition near an urban interface area.

The weather this week has been close to ideal for burning in the Black Hills, obviously. The high temperatures have been in the low 70’s, the winds moderate and mostly consistent, and the relative humidity has been in the 20’s.

Wildlife in the park at sunset

antelope in Wind Cave NP
A pronghorn antelope in Wind Cave NP just before sunset. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

During a quick two-hour trip into Wind Cave National Park that started just before sunset yesterday I ran across these critters.

elk Custer State Park
This elk was seen after sunset just outside Wind Cave NP, in Custer State Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert
bison Wind Cave National Park
You can call me the Bison Whisperer for getting this bison to pose by an interpretive sign in Wind Cave NP. I would have preferred for him to pose next to the Welcome to Wind Cave NP sign, but I settled for the interpretive sign. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

An afternoon at Wind Cave

Wind Cave NP

The March winds were blowing almost like a Santa Ana in Wind Cave National Park Sunday afternoon. When I was taking these photos I had to brace myself by leaning against something or by getting down on one knee to minimize camera movement. At one point the wind drove a few little hard kernels of snow, “corn snow” into the crevices of my coat and the camera, but that only lasted for a few seconds.

Wind Cave NP

Wind Cave NP

Wind Cave NP


Elk and bison in Wind Cave National Park

Elk in Wind Cave National Park

It was a beautiful day in the Black Hills Saturday so I drove into Wind Cave National Park. The elk and bison seemed to be enjoying the warmish weather (40 degrees) and sunshine.

Elk in Wind Cave National Park

The little guy below approached my truck. I assumed he wanted to either inspect it for road salt that he could lick off, or might want to use it as a scratching post, so I moved forward about 50 feet. He followed, so I moved again, and he came along again. I blew my horn thinking it might scare him away. It startled him and he froze, but then the rest of the group, about 30 bison, started walking toward me, and I, uh, suddenly remembered something I needed to do and left the area.

Bison in Wind Cave National Park


All photos are by Bill Gabbert, and protected by copyright.