America's National Parks and Road Trip Planning Find Your Park Road Trip Activities Nature

Wind Cave National Park Plants

Swaying grasses blown by a gentle wind create a fascinating motion on the prairie; the grasses seem to move in waves. Seeing these wind-caused waves prompted early travelers to call the prairie a "sea of grass".

The prairie conjures many images. For people living on the prairie, there is no sight equal to the sweeping view of a land stretching for miles under a towering sky. To Stephen Long, crossing the prairie in 1820, it was "a region of hopeless and irreclaimable sterility."

This sea of grass or prairie is very much like an ocean. It contains many habitats, with numerous species of plants.

Wind Cave National Park is part of this sea of grass. It is also part of the Black Hills. It is in a meeting zone, a mixed-grass prairie that combines many of the features of the eastern tall-grass prairie and the western short-grass prairie. It is a place where the mountains touch the plains.

Because it is a meeting zone or an ecotone, Wind Cave National Park has many different vegetative, or plant, communities. According to The Nature Conservancy these communities are noteworthy because of their health and diversity. They have identified 16 exemplary vegetative sites within the Black Hills. Nine of those sites are within Wind Cave National Park. These sites are rated on their diversity and management plans. The park itself is recognized as an exemplary site because of the quality and diversity of plant communities found here and the natural way they are managed.

Featured Outdoor Gear

Designed to excel across many disciplines-including trail, enduro, DH and freeride-the Race Face Atlas is a burly alloy...
Price subject to change | Available through

National Park Spotlight
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Featured Wildlife
Maine Puffins
Maine Puffins

Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.