Dahm Springs Nature Preserve
Meade County, South Dakota
~4000 feet (across 7 caves)
The Dahm Springs Preserve, a 46 acre property with seven caves, is the first acquisition of the Black Hills Cave and Nature Conservancy (BHCNC) which was created by members of the NSS. Marilyn Dahm-Borgeson, the property’s former owner, has long been a friend to cavers. Driven by her desire for the land to remain protected and for cavers to continue to study the caves, Marilyn made this preserve possible through a generous purchase-donation agreement in May 2020. Later that same summer, the BHCNC and NSS signed an agreement to jointly manage the Dahm Springs Preserve.
There are seven (7) known caves on the Dahm Springs Preserve. Brooks Cave is the longest cave on the Dahm Springs Preserve, at 3,455 feet of surveyed passage. Brooks is one of only 3 caves in the Black Hills that intersects the Madison Aquifer, a major source of drinking water for the region. This window into the aquifer has been the subject of several scientific studies by the United States Geological Survey. The “crown jewel” of the Dahm Springs Preserve is Dahm Spring Cave. This is the most sensitive and delicate cave in the preserve. It contains unique formations and highly unusual paleontological resources, including a calcified raccoon skeleton. Although the other known caves on the preserve are all under 300 feet in length, the limestone canyon is full of holes and there is great potential for additional discoveries. The smaller caves of the preserve provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including foxes, porcupines, and packrats, and many of them are beautifully decorated with calcite spar crystals.