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.
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.
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?
The “jewels” of Jewel Cave are calcite spar crystals. Calcite, which is about as hard as your fingernail, is too soft to be considered a true jewel.