Caution - Roadwork on Highway 16 - Expect Delays
Construction projects both along highway 16 and the Jewel Cave parking lot are planned during the summer. The visitor center is open daily with tours scheduled throughout the day. Come early, pm tours are usually full. 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 by September 30. The patio area outside the visitor center is planned for work in August. Signage along a service road and staff assistance will help guide visitors to the visitor center. More »
Wild Caving Tour
The Wild Caving Tour is your passport to the underground wilderness of Jewel Cave.
The Wild Caving Tour is offered mid-June through the end of August, and November through March during the off-season. With hard hat secured and headlamp turned on, you are ready to experience the cave in its natural state. Feel the wind at the famous Hurricane Corner, ascend Martha's Kettle, crawl through the Roller Coaster, and squeeze into the Brain Drain. See the place where hydromagnesite balloons were first discovered, including the balloon known as the earring, and view several beautiful and fragile cave formations.
At 2/3 of a mile long, this tour is a real caving adventure. You scramble over cave "breakdown," chimney between cave walls, use a rope assist to climb a nearly vertical wall, and belly-crawl through tight passages. Along the way you learn about low-impact caving, caving techniques and safety. The Wild Caving Tour lasts 3-4 hours, and is extremely strenuous. Anyone having a fear of closed spaces or heights should not attempt this tour.
Participants must be in good physical condition and are required to pass through an 8-1/2 inch by 24-inch crawl space before beginning the tour. Refunds are not given for those visitors unable to negotiate the block located on the patio of the visitor center. For safety reasons, there is an age requirement, which is strictly enforced. Participants must be 16 years of age or older, required to provide proof of age, and a parent or legal guardian is required to sign a waiver of responsibility, on the day of the tour, for any 16 or 17-year-old minor participant.
The Monument provides a hard hat and headlamp to each person taking the Wild Caving Tour. Participants must provide the following: sturdy, above the ankle, rubber-soled, lug-soled, lace-up boots; long pants or coveralls; a long-sleeved shirt; gloves; knee and elbow pads; a clean change of clothing and shoes; and a plastic bag for carrying soiled clothes and boots from the visitor center after the tour. Bring your caving clothes, boots, clean clothes and shoes to the visitor center when you check in and meet your tour guide. Clothing and footwear will be permanently stained by black manganese deposits encountered during this tour.
Reservations are required and can be made over the phone 2 to 28 days in advance. Tour size is limited to a minimum of 2 visitors and a maximum of 5 visitors. NOTE: During the off-season, a minimum of 4 visitors is required for this tour to proceed because the tour fees ($31.00 per person) will pay for the tour guide's salary during times of low visitation and limited park budget.
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.