Wind Cave National Park tonight begins its annual series of Ranger-led programs and tours listening for the bugle of the Rocky Mountain Elk.
From tonight through early October, Rangers will be in front of the Visitor Center on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday evenings at 7:00 with a brief interpretive program before leading a caravan to a nearby pullout to listen for the elk.
Wind Cave Chief of Interpretation Tom Farrell says the elk’s high-pitched whistle heralds the arrival of fall and the elk mating season with the ranger programs an easy way for the average person to experience it.
Farrell is a Hot Springs native who attended the elk bugling program in his younger days, adding that it’s been a local favorite for decades.
Farrell recommends dressing warmly, bringing a flashlight, and carrying either a camp chair or blanket to sit on..
He also says listening for bugling elk is something that visitors can do on their own as well, with evening or early morning hours the best.
He recommends listening at pullouts along Hwy 87 instead of Hwy 385 because there’s usually less traffic noise.
To hear what an elk bugle sounds like, go to the Wind Cave portion of the National Park Service website www.nps.gov/thingstodo/elk-bugling-wica.htm.
The Wind Cave National Park Visitor Center is open 8-4:30 daily with cave tours offered every 30 minutes from 9:00-3:30 through next Wednesday..
The Natural Entrance tour lasts about 75 minutes and involves 300 stairs while the Garden of Eden tour is an hour with 150 stairs. Reservations for cave tours can be made online up to 3 days in advance at www.recreation.gov