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Contact: Riley Hays, 605-673-8332
New Year, and a new you! Give yourself the gift of good health by getting outdoors and taking part in a snowshoe hike at Jewel Cave National Monument. The hike is slated for Saturday, January 14 at 1:00 p.m. on the popular Roof Trail near the visitor center. Park staff will instruct participants on the proper use of snowshoes and take a one-quarter mile recreational hike through the ponderosa pine forest. Snowshoes will be provided; however, participants are encouraged to wear warm boots or appropriate footwear for winter-like conditions.
Additional snowshoe hikes are scheduled for Saturdays, February 18 and March 18, at 1:00 p.m. Participants not able to attend the January outing are encouraged to make plans for the late winter dates. If trail conditions prohibit the use of snowshoes, dry hikes will still take place at the same time and along the same route. Participants are encouraged to wear layered clothes. Each snowshoe hike starts at the visitor center. For those that do not wish to snowshoe, the visitor center will be open, and Scenic Tours in the cave will take place at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Monument has embraced the National Park Service (NPS) Healthy Parks Healthy People Initiative and is planning a host of activities this year to encourage everyone to get outside. Bradley Block, Chief of Interpretation, states, "Being in nature can improve your mood and connecting with parks can enhance a person's physical, mental, and spiritual health. Although the NPS Centennial has come to an end, snowshoeing is a great way to Find Your Park in 2017." Many people make New Year's resolutions, and healthy lifestyle changes usually rank in the top three each year. Hiking not only burns calories through aerobic exercise, it also improves cardio-respiratory fitness, reduces depression, and often results in higher quality sleep. Plus, snowshoe hikes are a great way for families to spend time together outside.
Jewel Cave National Monument's visitor center is open daily during the winter season from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cave tours are currently offered Friday through Sunday, and there are two different options each day. Each month, one Wild Caving Tour is offered on the third Saturday. This is the only tour which accepts reservations. Jewel Cave is lucky to have a strong volunteer contingent this year, and our staff hopes to offer daily cave tours soon. For the most updated information on tour schedules, visit our website at www.nps.gov/jeca. Visitors are also welcome to call the Monument directly at 605-673-8300.