thinking about doing a cross country road trip. How essential is wind cave national park?
Wind cave is a pretty cool area because it actually shares a boundary with Custer State Park, both absolutely beautiful!! But one thing I will say is look online first or call ahead to make sure they are actually taking tours to the cave. When I visited last year they weren’t operational so all tours were ceased for both that and Jewel Cave, nearby.
I’d second a visit to Custer State Park. Wind Cave NP we found to be less impressive than nearby Jewel Cave National Monument. It also requires a ranger guided cave tour though.
FYI, the campgrounds at Custer State Park can fill quickly and most take advance reservations. However, we found the Elk Mountain Campground at Wind Cave National Park to be quite empty.