New Jersey family marks seven million visitors through Wind Cave National Park
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. — A family of six made Wind Cave National Park history when they stopped at the cave July 14.
Someone in the Gibello family was the 7 millionth visitor to tour Wind Cave since it became a national park 118 years ago.
“With cave tours each limited to 40 people, this is a significant event,” said Superintendent Leigh Welling. “This milestone celebrates that people from everywhere are able to experience the wonders of Wind Cave and recognizes the efforts of park staff to preserve this cave and national park so that future generations will have the same opportunity.”
After the cave was made into the eighth national park in 1903, rangers began taking people through the cave with total of 2,515 people toured the cave that year, but annual visitation peaked in 1968 with 138,348 visitors. The cave currently averages 125,000 visitors each year.
The family was given a free tour and presented with a Charley Harper print, a blanket, stickers, and a game, all courtesy of the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association.
“We’re proud to be the 7 millionth visitor and hope there are 7 million more,” said Amos Gibello. “We’ve never been out west before. There is a lot to offer out here.”
Wind Cave National Park is experiencing heavy visitation this summer with around 200 people waiting to purchase tickets when the visitor center opens at 8 a.m. Tours are reportedly selling out for the day by early afternoon, and visitors are encouraged to arrive early in the morning to buy tickets for the day because the tickets are on a first come, first serve basis.