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