Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument

Planning Your Visit

Welcome

At Jewel Cave National Monument, you may explore the surface or the subterranean. Learn about our cave tours or our surface talks by clicking on the 'Things To Do' link.

Operating Hours & Seasons

The Jewel Cave National Monument Visitor Center is open daily. The Visitor Center hours are currently 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. The Monument's Visitor Center, cave tours, and park trails are CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1st.

All cave programs are ranger-guided and require a minimum of 2 participants. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Visitor Center or by phone. Cave tours do sell out in advance; therefore waiting times could be 2-4 hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for tour availability and to reserve tickets. ALL TOUR TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Tickets can be purchased up to seven days in advance for the Scenic Tour and Discovery Talk. Organized groups may call up to one month in advance. Please call 1-605-673-2288 between 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. to speak with a representative in order to purchase tickets.

ALL TOUR TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Summer Tour Schedule: June 8 - July 19, 2008:

Visitor Center Hours are 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Scenic Tours are offered daily at 9:20 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 10:40 a.m., 11:20 a.m., 11:40 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 12:40 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:20 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 4:20 p.m., and 5:20 p.m. (last tour)

Discovery Talks are offered daily at 10:55 a.m., 1:35 p.m., 2:55 p.m., 4:35 p.m., and 6:05 p.m.

Lantern Tours are offered at 10:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday; and June 21 & 26.

Lantern Tours are offered at 9:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday (except 6/26), and Saturday (except 6/21).

A Spelunking Tour is offered at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Reservations are required. The tour on June 18 is sold out.  A spelunking tour will be available on July 4th.

Directions

Plane

The nearest major airport is 54 miles away in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Car

The main Visitor Center and cave entrance is thirteen miles west of Custer, South Dakota on RT 16, 24 miles east of Newcastle, Wyoming on RT 16 and 54 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota via RT 16 & 16 -385.

Things To Know Before You Come

All cave tours are considered moderately to very strenuous. The Discovery Talk is handicap accessible.

1. All cave tours are ranger guided.

2. The cave temperature is 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). A light jacket and low-heeled rubber-soled, closed-toe walking shoes are recommended for all tours.

3. The Scenic Tour is dimly lit, with numerous steep stairs. There are 723 stairs along this half-mile tour route. Cave tours are not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia, heart or respiratory problems, recent surgeries or illnesses, or other physical limitations.

4. No food, drink, candy, tobacco or gum is allowed in the cave; nor are large purses, bags or backpacks. Oxygen tanks are allowed on the Discovery Tour only. Flash photography is allowed on the Scenic Tour and Discovery Tour, but tripods are not.

5. There are no restroom facilities in the cave. The Scenic Tour is one hour and twenty minutes in length. The Lantern Tour is one hour and fourty-five minutes in length. The Discovery Tour lasts twenty minutes.

6. No animals are allowed in the Cave, with the exception of service animals.

7. Children of all ages are welcome on the Scenic Tour. If you are traveling with small children, bear in mind that most two and three year olds cannot walk the entire route. Baby backpacks or slings are permitted in the cave. Because all tour participants need to have their hands free to grip the handrails, carrying children through the cave is not recommended.

8. Cell phone reception is spotty in the Black Hills and non-existent at Jewel Cave National Monument.

Fees & Reservations

The Monument's surface trails and facilities are available free of charge. Fees are charged for cave tours. Prices and tour descriptions are listed below.

All tours into Jewel Cave are ranger-guided and require a minimum of 2 participants.

Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Visitor Center or by reservation over the phone.

Ticket Sales and Reservations:

  • Tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center, ticket kiosk (summer only), or by phone.
  • Reservations can be made up to seven days in advance for the Scenic and Lantern Tours, and the Jewel Cave Discovery Talk.
  • Reservations can be made up to one month in advance for the Spelunking Tour, Groups (with an itinerary); and Educational groups that qualify for a fee waiver.
  • Please call (605) 673-2288, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Mountain Standard Time, to speak with a representative and to make a reservation using a major credit card.
  • All reserved tickets must be picked up at least 30 minutes prior to tour time at the Visitor Center.
  • Teachers may call the Visitor Center to request an educational fee waiver request form and information.

All cave tours and talks can sell out at any time of the year, especially when the daily number of tours is limited.

Visitors are encouraged to call ahead for tour availability. Please call, or click the link Operating Hours & Seasons for the current cave tour schedule.

General Tour Information:

  • The cave temperature is 49°F (9°C). A light jacket or sweatshirt is recommended.
  • Low-heeled, closed-toe, rubber soled shoes are highly recommended as cave routes cover uneven, slippery ground and stairs.
  • NO food, gum, candy, drinks, tobacco products, backpacks, purses, handbags, or other large items are allowed in the cave.
  • There are no restrooms in the cave.
  • It is recommended that visitors be in good health and physical condition.
  • The Jewel Cave Discovery Talk is recommended for families with young children, and visitors with limited time or health concerns.

Scenic Tour - Ticket Prices:

  • $8.00 - Adult - age 17 & over
  • $4.00 - Youth - ages 6-16
  • Free - Child - ages 5 & under (must have a ticket)
  • $4.00 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • $2.00 - Access Youth (pass holder only) - up to 16 years of age
  • The Annual Pass or National Parks Pass is not valid for tour.

Scenic Tour Details: Scenic Tours are offered year-round. This tour is moderately strenuous and lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes. The tour enters and leaves the cave by elevator in the Visitor Center. The tour route involves walking up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop. This tour provides an opportunity to visit chambers decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems as you walk along a paved trail with electric lighting. Scenic Tours are limited to 30 people per tour.

Jewel Cave Discovery - Ticket Prices:

  • $4.00 - Adult - age 16 & over
  • Free - Youth - ages 6-15
  • Free - Child - ages 5 & under
  • Free - Golden Age/Senior/Access pass holder and 3 persons (16 yrs. and older)
  • Free - Annual Pass/National Parks Pass holder and 3 persons (16 yrs. and older)
  • Tickets are required to enter Jewel Cave.

Jewel Cave Discovery Details: This 20-minute talk is an introduction to Jewel Cave's natural and cultural histories. The 'Discovery Talk' is offered year-round. Participants view one large room of the cave. This easy cave visit enters and exits the cave by elevator and involves walking up and down 15 stair steps. This cave talk takes place in the cave's Target Room which is accessible to visitors with limited mobility. The location of the Discovery Talk in Jewel Cave is subject to change at any time of the year. The Jewel Cave Discovery Talk is limited to 20 people.

Lantern Tour - Ticket Prices:

  • $8.00 - Adult - age 17 & over
  • $4.00 - Youth - ages 6-16
  • $4.00 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • $2.00 - Access Youth (pass holder only) - age 6 to 16
  • The minimum age allowed is 6 years old.
  • The Annual Pass or National Parks Pass is not valid for tour.

Lantern Tour Details: This tour is available from the second full week of June through Labor Day. The Lantern Tour is a 1940's style adventure. Visitors, carrying lanterns provided by the Monument, enter and exit the cave through the historic entrance. This tour is considered strenuous and lasts 1 hour and 45 minutes. The tour route is approximately 1/2 mile long and includes steep, narrow wooden steps. Visitors must be in good health and physical condition. The tour requires bending, stooping, duck walking, and navigation of steep wooden ladders. The Lantern Tour is limited to 20 people per tour.

Spelunking Tour - Ticket Prices:

  • $27.00 - Adult - age 16 & over
  • $13.50 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • The Annual Pass or National Parks Pass is not valid for tour.
  • Participants must be 16 years of age or older. Proof of age may be required.
  • A parent or legal guardian, of a 16 or 17 yr. old, is required to sign a permission waiver and be present on the Monument property during the Spelunking Tour.
  • Tickets are sold by a ranger authorized to make reservations for this tour.
  • Reservations can be made one month in advance of tour by calling (605) 673-2288 between 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, MST. Have a major credit card ready, name, phone number, and address. This call will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. During the off-season, reservations must be made in advance by NOON (12:00 pm) on Friday before the tour. The tour will be available on the following dates: 3/9, 3/30, 4/13, 4/27, 5/11, and 5/25/08.

Spelunking Tour Details: New in 2007-2008: A Spelunking Tour will be available on two Sundays of the month through the winter season. Spelunking Tours are available during the summer season from the beginning of June through the middle of August. This tour is designed for visitors who want the thrill of experiencing the cave in its natural state. Participants scramble over cave "breakdown," chimney between cave walls, climb semi-vertical rocks (rope-assisted climbs), and belly crawl through tight passages. Participants are required to fit through a passage 8 1/2 inches high by 24 inches wide before attempting this tour. Along a 2/3 mile route, visitors learn about low-impact caving, caving techniques, safety, and caving equipment. The tour lasts 3 to 4 hours, and is considered extremely strenuous. Participants must be 16 years of age or older, and in good health and physical condition. Participants must provide and wear above the ankle, lug-soled, lace-up leather boots; soft elbow and knee pads; gloves; long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. We do not provide this equipment. Clothes and boots may be permanently stained with manganese. The Monument only provides a hardhat and headlamp. Tour size is limited to a minimum of 2 visitors and a maximum of 5 visitors. Tours may be cancelled due to lack of required participants (2); due to emergencies at the Monument; and/or lack of proper caving equipment.