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

    Jewel Cave

    National Monument South Dakota

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • 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 »

The Jasper Fire

The Jasper Fire approaches Jewel Cave's visitor center

The Jasper Fire approaches the visitor center.

NPS Photo

On August 24, 2000 an enormous wildfire started just west of Jewel Cave. Named the Jasper Fire, it burned a total of 83,508 acres in the southern Black Hills and approximately 90% of the land area of Jewel Cave National Monument.

Jewel Cave was evacuated, and remained closed until September 2, when the danger had passed and the fire was nearly contained. As the fire swept through the monument, important documents, maps, and computers were brought into the cave for safekeeping.

Due to the hot, dry conditions and an abundance of fuel on the forest floor, the fire spread quickly and with severe intensity. In just the first day, the fire consumed an average of about seven football fields of forest per minute.

Firefighting efforts saved all of the structures on the monument. The recently restored historical cabin near the cave entrance was foamed several times to save it from the fire.

Burned trees, years after the Jasper Fire

As you hike the trails at Jewel Cave, you can see evidence of the Jasper Fire.

NPS Photo

Years Later

On your visit to Jewel Cave, you will certainly see evidence of the Jasper Fire. Burned trees continue to fall, causing closures of the hiking trails on windy days. Some of the trees that survived the fire exhibit brown pine needles and black bark. The forest floor, no longer thick with ash, hosts a variety of plants that have rebounded since the fire.

Did You Know?

Calcite Spar Crystal/NPS file photo

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.