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

    Jewel Cave

    National Monument South Dakota

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  • Caution - Parking Lot at Jewel Cave is under construction

    The parking lot project is on schedule for completion this fall. There is limited RV parking. The stairs and wheelchair ramp to the visitor center are also under construction. Signage along a service road 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?

A group of three cavers / NPS file photo

Cave explorers at Jewel Cave National Monument always abide by the rule of three: Carry at least 3 independent sources of light, cave with at least 3 people in your group, and maintain 3 points of contact with the rock when climbing.