Sometimes overshadowed by nearby Wind Cave National Park, the third-longest mapped cave system in the world is located within Jewel Cave National Monument. Thick calcite crystals are the sparkly jewels that adorn the walls of this gem in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Lantern Tour, Scenic Tour, Wild Caving Tour
The Wild Caving Tour is reserved for those willing and able to squeeze through the 8.5 x 24-inch crawlspace located out front of the visitor center. It is a taste of what is to come during sections like the “Brain Drain.” Thick layers of manganese will permanently stain clothing worn by those brave enough to take this epic 4-hour journey that crawls less than half a mile past rare hydromagnesite balloons and gypsum flowers.
Most of the forest within the monument has burned, but Canyons Trail makes a 3.5 mile loop from the visitor center or Historic Ranger Cabin.
Most cave tours do not allow you to touch anything, but on the Historic Lantern Tour at the historic entrance to the cave (summer only) you can feel the 4-inch long calcite crystals (also called dogtooth spar) that formed like a bathtub ring as water slowly drained out.
Summer when the Historic Lantern Tour and Wild Caving Tour are offered.
None to park, but there is a charge for all tours.
All roads paved. Note that the Historic Lantern Tour at the historic entrance to the cave is not at the main visitor center where the elevator is.
None, but plenty of places at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Black Hills National Forest.
Explore More – How many miles of the cave’s passages have currently been mapped?