Photo of a family and guide deep inside of Jewel Cave.
 
 

With over 180 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, Jewel Cave National Monument is the third longest cave in the world.  While the formations, which are brilliant in color, and consist of winding passages that lure explorers, the cave still contains hidden treasures of scientific potential and discovery.  Discovered by brothers passing through Hell Canyon at the turn of the century, Jewel Cave National Monument provides guided Black Hills cave tours that allow visitors to experience a rich ecosystem completely different from the surface.

 

Jewel Cave National Monument provides three different guided Black Hills Cave Tours:

 

Scenic Tour

The Scenic Tour is the most popular tour of Jewel Cave National Monument.  The Scenic Tour route provides an opportunity to visit various cave chambers and passages decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems. This tour is considered a modern day walking tour and follows a paved trail with electric lighting. An elevator in the Visitor Center is the only entrance and exit to this guided cave tour. The Scenic Tour is listed as moderately strenuous and lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes.  The tour route involves walking up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop, (equivalent to 40 flights of stairs).

 

Historic Lantern Tour

Step back in to the past and take the Historic Lantern Tour.  Your Park Ranger will be dressed in a 1930s-style uniform, and this adventure gives you a sense of what it was like to tour the cave in earlier days. Visitors enter and leave the cave through the historic entrance using an unpaved trail. The only light is provided by a lantern most tour participants carry and you will visit passages to the Dungeon Room or the Heavenly Room. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. The tour route is approximately 1/2 mile long, and includes ~600 steep wooden steps (ladder-like stairs), and requires bending and stooping. This tour is considered strenuous. The age requirement, strictly enforced for safety reasons, is 6 years old or older.

 

The Discovery Talk is an excellent short visit to Jewel Cave National Monument.

This 20-minute ranger talk is a brief introduction to Jewel Cave's natural and cultural histories. Participants view one large room of the cave. This easy cave visit enters and exits the cave by elevator in the Visitor Center, and involves walking up and down 15 stair steps. The Discovery Talk is wheelchair accessible for people who have trouble negotiating stairs, and the tour is limited to 20 participants.

Scenic Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 6-16
  • $0.00 - Child ages 5 & under
  • Half price - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult or Access Youth (pass holder only)
  • Not valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass

Discovery Talk - Ticket Prices

  • $4.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • Free - Youth & Children ages 16 & under
  • Free - Golden Age/Senior/Access pass holder plus 3 adults
  • Free - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass plus 3 adults
  • Free - 4th Grader with a voucher or pass, their siblings, and parents.

Historic Lantern Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 6-16 (must be at least age 6)
  • $6.00 - Golden Age/Senior/Access Adult (pass holder only)
  • $4.00 - Access Youth - age 6 to 16 (pass holder only)
  • Not valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass
  • In summer (June - August), wait times between purchasing tickets and select tour time can be over 4 hours.
  • It is common for tours to fill by 12 p.m. daily during the summer season. Arrive early to increase your chance of getting on your preferred tour.
  • You may arrive early in the day to purchase tickets for an afternoon tour.
  • All other tour tickets are available ONLY in person on the day of the tour.
  • There are NO self-guided tours at Jewel Cave National Monument.
  • The temperature in the cave is 49°F/9°C year-round.
  • Jackets and low-heeled, closed-toe shoes are recommended for all tours.
  • Tennis shoes or hiking boots are REQUIRED for the Historic Lantern Tour. Closed toe sandals are NOT ACCEPTABLE.
  • Know your limits! The Scenic and Historic Lantern Tours require visitors to climb a large number of stairs. Visitors who cannot negotiate stairs SHOULD NOT attempt these tours.
  • Cave tour participants, of all ages, must be able to navigate the tour route unassisted.
  • It is recommended that young children participate on a Discovery Talk rather than the Scenic Tour.
  • Children may NOT be carried on any portion of the Scenic Tour route.
  • There are many other activities available for younger children during the summer season; including the Junior Ranger program, Ranger-led activities and surface hikes.
  • Warm clothes-Jewel Cave remains 49°F/9°C year-round
  • Good walking shoes-You will be walking on paved pathways or the cave floor in close proximity to cave rocks.
  • A camera-Jewel is a very unique and beautiful cave. Photography is permitted on the Scenic and Discovery Tours; however, cameras must be small enough to fit in your pocket on the Historic Lantern Tour. Larger cameras are allowed on the Scenic Tour and Discovery Talk, but large camera cases and tripods must be left in your vehicle.
  • All Backpacks, Purses, Weapons, Hiking/walking sticks/poles-For your protection as well as that of the cave, these items are NOT allowed on ANY cave tour. Secure all items in your vehicle.
  • Food, gum, candy, drinks, tobacco products, monopods, tripods, large flashlights, pets, strollers, and child backpack carriers are not permitted on any cave tour.
  • Any items used or worn in a cave outside of the Black Hills-This is to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus known to kill bats.


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