NPS Photo - Eric Dodd
The Scenic Tour is the most popular tour of Jewel Cave.
The Scenic Tour route provides an opportunity to visit various cave chambers and passages decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems. This tour is considered a modern day walking tour along a paved trail with electric lighting. The tour enters and leaves the cave by elevator in the Visitor Center. The Scenic Tour is moderately strenuous and lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The tour route involves walking up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop, (equivalent to 40 flights of stairs). During the Scenic Tour, you see two types of calcite crystals known as nailhead spar and dogtooth spar, which are the "jewels" of Jewel Cave. In addition, you can view boxwork, cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, and a long ribbon drapery called the cave bacon. With each visit, you will learn more about the cave formations, discovery and continuous exploration.
Come prepared to tour Jewel Cave, wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes or hiking boots, and a light jacket or sweater. Close-toed shoes are highly recommended. The cave temperature is 49 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius year-round. Persons who have heart or respiratory conditions, foot or lower joint problems, have recently been hospitalized, have a fear of heights or elevators should talk with a park ranger before selecting this tour.
There is a limit of 30 participants on each Scenic Tour. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. This tour will frequently sell out during holiday weekends, spring breaks, and the summer months. Please call ahead to ask about tour availability or check the daily tour schedule before your visit to Jewel Cave.
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.