Basic Information

Blunt nailhead spar calcite crystals that coat many cave passages give Jewel Cave its name.
Calcite crystals give Jewel Cave its name.

NPS photo

Jewel Cave's Underground Wilderness

Beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota lies the fascinating underground world of Jewel Cave. It delights, it perplexes, and it lures you on to further discovery and exploration. Most of the cave's chambers are decorated with calcite crystals and other beautiful, colorful, and rare formations. Caring for Jewel Cave can be a tough job. The National Park Service strives to balance the desire to enjoy the cave with the need to protect it. Before touring the cave, there are a few things you should know.

Also in this section:

Operating Hours and Seasons - cave tour schedules

Fees & Passes

Permits and Reservations

Things to Know Before You Come:

1. All cave tours are ranger guided and require a minimum of two participants. Tours offer available space for a limited number of visitors. Cave tours can sell out at any time depending on visitation.

2. All cave visitors will walk across a decontamination mat when exiting the cave to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which is a bat disease. Jewel Cave has been identified as a WNS-positive site. For this reason, visitors are advised that other cave sites may not allow them to enter another cave with any item that has been inside Jewel Cave. Furthermore, footwear, clothing, or gear worn in Jewel Cave will NOT be allowed on the Candlelight and Wild Cave Tours at nearby Wind Cave National Park.

3. The cave temperature is a constant 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). A light jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt, long pants, and low-heeled rubber-soled, closed-toe walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended.

4. Sandals, flip flops, slides, or other shoes that are not securely fastened to the foot are not allowed on any cave tour. If questionable, park rangers may ask that you change your footwear before taking part in a cave tour.

5. Cave tours are not recommended for anyone with claustrophobia, heart or respiratory conditions, recent surgeries or illnesses, or other physical limitations. Cave tour participants, of all ages, must be able to navigate the tour route unassisted.

6. Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

7. Food, drinks, candy, gum, tobacco products, monopods, tripods, weapons, pets, large purses, handbags, large flashlights and camera bags, hiking/walking sticks/poles, strollers, diaper bags, and all backpacks - including child backpack carriers are not permitted on any cave tour.

8. Touching of the cave surfaces, features, and formations is prohibited.

9. Flash photography is allowed on the Scenic and Discovery Tours. Cameras and flashlights are not permitted on other tours.

10. There are no restroom facilities or drinking fountains in the cave.

11. Large items, such as walkers, canes, crutches, and oxygen tanks, are only allowed on the Discovery Talk, which is also wheelchair accessible.

12. No pets are allowed in the cave, with the exception of certified service dogs only on the Discovery Talk.

13. It is recommended that children ages five and under participate on Discovery Talks.

14. All cave tours and facilities require shirts and shoes for admittance.

15. To protect air quality, smoking is not permitted in the buildings, in the cave, at cave entrances, or at the ticket kiosk.

16. Cell phone reception is poor in the Black Hills and almost non-existent at Jewel Cave National Monument.

17. Pets cannot be left unattended around the visitor center parking lot, visitor facilities, or in a vehicle without proper ventilation. Pets should also not be left unattended within any vehicle during the summer season.

Last updated: May 22, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

11149 U.S. Hwy. 16
Building B12

Custer, SD 57730


(605) 673-8300

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