• Explore and Discover One of the Last Frontiers in the World ...

    Jewel Cave

    National Monument South Dakota

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  • Caution - Roadwork on Highway 16

    Construction projects both along highway 16 and the Jewel Cave parking lot are in progress. The Jewel Cave Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with tours scheduled throughout the day. No reservations for cave tours.

  • Highway 16 construction near Jewel Cave entrance

    Construction of Highway 16 through Jewel Cave National Monument is progressing on schedule. Motorists should use caution while traveling through the construction zone. Visitors to Jewel Cave should plan extra travel time and come early in the day. More »

  • The parking lot at Jewel Cave takes shape

    Jewel Cave's parking lot project is on schedule for completion this fall. The stairs and wheelchair ramp to the visitor center are under construction. Signage along a service road and staff assistance will help guide visitors to the visitor center. More »


Many animal species make Jewel Cave National Monument their home. Most live in the ponderosa pine forest and open meadows of the surface, but some also live in the cave itself.

A packrat, or bushy-tailed woodrat

Packrats are often seen near the historic cave entrance.

Martin Roest

Over 1,000 bats use Jewel Cave as a winter hibernaculum, and some stay into the summer. Many packrats also make the cave their year-round home. They can sometimes be seen on the Lantern Tour.

Springtails are small insects that can be found near the historic entrance and around the Scenic Tour route. Deep in the cave, only protozoa and other microbes are able to survive, because of the lack of food. In fact, almost all cave life at Jewel Cave is found near the entrances, because there is no natural mechansim for carrying organic material deeper into the cave.

Eastern cottontail rabbit

Eastern cottontail rabbits are common near the visitor center.

Tonia Foster

On the surface, herds of elk pass through the park, grazing on the meadows opened up by the Jasper Fire. These shy animals are rarely seen. Easier to find are white-tailed deer, mule deer, rabbits, red squirrels, and birds.

Did You Know?

Cavers at camp site deep in Jewel Cave/NPS file photo

From the elevator entrance, it takes over 11 hours for explorers to reach unexplored sections at the end of Jewel Cave. Some survey trips require cavers to remain underground for up to 4 days.