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 »
There is much that we don't know about Jewel Cave. Ongoing research contributes greatly to our understanding and effective management of the cave.
Since 2003, a cave climatologist has been conducting a cave airflow study in the Black Hills. He has placed ultrasonic anemometers and temperature loggers in several barometric caves, including Jewel Cave and Wind Cave.
Ultrasonic anemometers are highly sensitive instruments that can measure not only the velocity of airflow, but also the direction, temperature, and vertical flow component. This study is an attempt to better understand the dynamics of cave airflow, to calculate cave volume, and to determine whether or not the studied caves are connected to each other.
At Jewel Cave, airflow has been measured at the Historic Entrance and at constrictions leading to the eastern and western branches of the cave. Click here to listen to cave specialist Mike Wiles discuss the airflow study.
A microbiologist recently began a study of microorganisms found deep inside Jewel Cave.
A pilot study was conducted in 2001 to determine if microbes were present in samples of "corrosion residue," a powdery substance that coats the walls in some cave passages. The pilot study found stalked bacteria, with morphological similarities to organisms found in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico.
More samples were collected in 2005, and are currently incubating in glass tubes inside the cave. DNA will be extracted from these samples and compared with sequence databases in order to determine closest relatives. These cave microbes have the potential to be unique species found nowhere else on earth.
Did You Know?
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.