Jewel Cave National Monument is the third longest cave in the world with over 200 miles explored. The mileage continues to grow as researchers discover an average of three miles of new passageways each year luring explorers to its maze of endless tunnels. Located less than an hours drive southwest of Rapid City, and in close proximity to Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave was named for its dazzling calcite crystals that cover the walls, floor, and ceiling of the cave.
Custer, SD 57730
The Jewel Cave Visitor Center is open seasonally with expanded hours in the summer. The monument is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
December 17, 2018 – late April, 2019 • Open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Late April – May 24 • Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
May 25 – June 8 • Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
June 9 – August 17 • Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
August 18 – September 2 • Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
September 3 – November 30 • Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving Day)
December 1, 2019 – mid April, 2020 • Open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)
JEWEL CAVE VISITOR CENTER
The Jewel Cave Visitor Center is open year round, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Visitors can watch an information film, view exhibits on cave exploration, history and resource management, as well as browse the book and gift shop.
Jewel Cave National Monument participates in the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program.
For nearby lodging check out places to stay in Rapid City.
*Jewel Cave Winter Closure: Guided cave tours will temporarily be shut down from mid-October 2018 through April 2019 in order to make necessary improvement along the Scenic Tour route. The visitor center, park store and surface trails will remain open during the closure.
Jewel Cave offers four different ranger-guided tours varying in length and intensity. With the exception of the Discover Tour, most cave tours are considered moderate to strenuous and are not recommended for young children and the elderly. Tours are sold on first come, first served basis and do sell out.
The most popular tour of Jewel Cave, the Scenic Tour, is a modern day walking tour to view cave formations throughout various chambers and passages. This tour is moderately strenuous, lasting just over an hour and not recommended for children. Scenic Tours tend to sell out in the summer months and holiday weekends before noon.
There are reservation opportunities for the Scenic Tour. Reservation times vary by season but can be made through Black Hills Central Reservations at http://www.npsreservations.com/jewel-cave/ or by calling (605)717-7629.
The Discovery Talk is the shortest of all tours offered, lasting 20 minutes and is very accessible for children of all ages. Participants will learn about the caves natural and cultural histories.
Historic Lantern Tour
Prepare for an adventure that gives you an idea of what it was like to tour Jewel Cave in the earlier days. Complete with a 1930’s dressed Park Ranger guide, you’ll climb wooden steps, walk on unpaved trails and use lanterns as a light source on the Historic Lantern Tour. This tour is strenuous and participants must be at least 8 years old.
The Wild Caving Tour
The Wild Caving Tour is offered seasonally throughout the year. Participates wear a hard hat with a headlamp to explore the underground wilderness of Jewel Cave. Adventurers will belly-crawl through tight passages and use rope assists to climb vertical walls. This tour is extremely strenuous and lasts up to four hours. All participants must be at least 16 years old.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING
- The cave temperature is a constant 49 degrees, so a light jacket or sweatshirt is recommended.
- Cave tour fees vary and are subject to change.
For more information, including tour costs, call 605-673-8300 or visit the Jewel Cave National Monument page on the National Park Service website.
There are two self-guided hiking trails at Jewel Cave National Monument, and one U. S. Forest Service trail which begins approximately 1 mile from the Jewel Cave visitor center. Trails range from ¼ miles to 5.5 miles in length. Most trails are not accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Due to a waterline construction project at the cave, the surface trails are temporarily closed through late June. Visitors can still access the first part of the Roof Trail and hike a short distance to the observation deck.